My Brother Molested Me: How Do I Move on?

28 June, 2020
Q My brother molested me multiple times.

The first time he did was when my parents were out of the country. We were two sisters and two brothers at home; at that time, I was 13, and he is 5 years older than me.

My siblings and I used to sleep in the same room on the carpet. We would have some space between our brothers and us. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

One day in the middle of the night, I woke up with my elder brother’s hand in my pants. I was shocked, horrified, and traumatized. I just laid there in horror, not knowing what to do, but, slowly I took his hand out, pretending I’m still sleeping; I couldn't sleep after that.

In the morning, he acted as nothing happened, and I didn’t say anything, either. Next time, I woke up with my hand in his pants while his hand was in mine. I wish I could erase these memories.

After that, no matter how many pillows and cushions I put between us, he would find a way to reach my pants or touch my foot or hold my hand.

It lasted for years; in the morning, he continued to act as nothing happened.

There was a time I gave him the benefit of the doubt, thinking maybe he doesn’t do it intentionally but, when a male member of the family would sleep next to him, he wouldn’t move an inch.

I stopped talking to him, and if he tried to speak to me, I would be as rude and mean as I possibly can. I had no courage to tell my family or friends.

I hate him so much, but I still have to live in the same house as him. Now, he sleeps in a different room, Alhamdulillah.

Yet, those traumatizing experiences of my past haunt me to this day, I still cry at night.

I’m 22 now, and it’s the first time I put that experience into words. I’m afraid of telling my family, not knowing how they would react, what If they don’t trust me, or what if my parents' health gets affected.

I have nephews and nieces from other siblings, and I’m afraid for their safety. I don’t know how and whom to tell or if should I even tell this?

Should I tell my future husband about this? Please help me with what I should do under Islamic guidelines.

Answer


In this counseling answer:

Victims of sexual abuse such as yourself and many others, often suffer from depression, guilt, trauma, and so forth. It is very important that you seek counseling so that you are able to begin to heal. 

It may be that you will need to confront your brother about his transgressions when you both were teenagers. That may be the start of your actual healing process.

I kindly suggest that you also do some self-care sister such as taking a walk in nature, practice breathing exercises to find peace and relaxation, eat healthy foods, go out with friends, read Qur’an, do dzhkir, and go to the Masjid.

Try to block thoughts that are disturbing for now and replace them with a comforting ayat-or pray. These are a few things that will help you find peace and balance amidst the turmoil.

Look on the internet for reputable support groups.


As salamu alaykum,

Thank you for trusting us with your most sensitive issue. I am so sorry that you were molested sister. My heart goes out to you. 

I can imagine you have experienced years of hurt, pain, confusion, and anger. As you discussed in your question, your brother was the one who molested you. May Allah comfort and grant you ease my dear sister.

A Haunting Pain and Trauma

You are now 22 years old and the molestation which occurred when you were 13 is still causing you much trauma and pain. This is understandable. Abuse is not something that is easy to get over.

My Brother Molested Me: How Do I Move on? - About Islam

You stated that you and your siblings used to sleep in the same room. You would have some space between yourselves but your brother started putting his hand in your pants at night. This happened repeatedly and went on for years. Fearful, you did not know who to tell, or if you should even tell someone. 

Inappropriate Sleeping Quarters

Sister, I want to say that this is not your fault. You did not cause this to happen, nor did you deserve this abuse. 

Sometimes siblings must sleep together due to lack of space in a home but it is still not a good idea to put male and female together to sleep. Especially when they are teens due to the risk of things like this happening. 

Finding a Voice

Sadly, abuse like this is common. Your brother’s actions were abhorrent, sinful and disgusting. I  imagine that while this was going on you did not know what to do or say, and this is understandable.

Oftentimes the victim of abuse feels like nobody will believe them, they may get in trouble, or it may harm the family. Insha’Allah women and young women in particular, girls will realize that their voice is important and they will start telling and speaking up loudly when they are being abused. It takes a lot of courage.

Sometimes as you feared, families do not want to believe this could happen and could respond in negligent ways adding more devastation to the already injured victim.

Seeking Counseling

Sister I kindly suggest as it has been 9 years of non-stop trauma, hurt, and pain for you, that you do seek out a counselor in your area who you can see on a regular basis.

Victims of sexual abuse such as yourself and many others, often suffer from depression, guilt, trauma, and so forth. It is important that you seek counseling so that you are able to begin to heal. 

Healing

What healing looks like for you at this point I am not sure. It is something you will have to find in your heart and discuss with a counselor who can fully assess your situation and with your input, help you build your path to Healing.

It may be that you will need to confront your brother about his transgressions when you both were teenagers. That may be the start of your actual healing process. It may be that you will also tell your parents. This may be especially important if your brother is around nieces and nephews and you fear for their safety. 


Check out this counseling video:


Safety for the Children

If there are children in the home or children who are around him, their parents who are your siblings most certainly need to know if he does pose a threat. Children must be protected at all costs.

I may be wrong may Allah forgive me, but if you fear that telling your parents would injure their health, perhaps it is a discussion you may want to have privately with your siblings so that they can protect their children. 

Sharing Pain

Sister I am glad that you did write to us and tell us about your situation. You are not alone. Sometimes when we talk about our hurt and pain, and things that have been done that are vile against us, it often relieves some of the pressure that we feel.

That is another reason why I encourage you to engage in counseling for a while, so you’re able to talk about this, express your feelings, make decisions regarding confronting your brother and protecting your nieces and nephews, as well as beginning to heal. 

Self-Care

I kindly suggest that you also do some self-care sister such as taking a walk in nature, practice breathing exercises to find peace and relaxation, eat healthy foods, go out with friends, read Qur’an, do dzhkir, and go to the Masjid.

Try to block thoughts that are disturbing for now and replace them with a comforting ayat-or pray. These are a few things that will help you find peace and balance amidst the turmoil.

Counseling and Support Groups

Sister please do keep in pray to Allah for guidance, comfort, and resolution to this horrific situation. Healing from abuse is possible. You just have to take the first step, which is what you have done by reaching out to us.

I encourage you to keep going and connect with a counselor in your area. I would also recommend insha’Allah that you either ask the counselor that you see or look on the internet for reputable support groups. There are many support groups for young people who are victims of sexual abuse, especially abuse from family members.

The support groups will help you insha’Allah to gain coping skills, insight, strength, courage, and resolve. Support groups are a safe space to listen to others experiences which are similar to yours. You will hear how others have felt emotionally and mentally and how they overcame fear, hurt, anger, and traumatic feelings and healed.

You will also be able to share if you so choose. There is something very therapeutic and healing about sharing in a safe space with others who have been through similar things that you have been through. Insha’Allah, you will seek out a support group to help you through the healing process.

Sister please do link up with a counselor in your area as soon as possible. Discuss with her what has happened and your concerns for your nieces and nephews.

She will be able to guide you on how to approach your brother and the rest of your family. Your counselor will be able to offer you a lot of support in this area as well as other areas of the situation. 

Not an Easy Journey

This is not going to be an easy journey sister because there is the trauma you need to heal from, family reactions if you disclose, and children involved. It may be confrontational. It will mean examining wounds that never healed.

You may experience more emotional pain while speaking out in defense of yourself and the possible danger to your nieces and nephews. It may mean that your brother must move out. However, this may be part of closure and safety.

However, insha’Allah, after this hard part of your journey is over, you will be in a position to focus on yourself and fully heal and be happy insha’Allah. It may take time sister but I believe in you and your ability. Looking towards your future, insha’Allah you will have a wonderful husband! 

However, there is no reason to tell him what has happened. It is in the past; it is in Allah’s “hands” now. Let Allah handle this. Lastly, it is really none of his business. You are seeking to heal sister, not keep opening a wound with a new husband. 

Conclusion

May Allah bless you and guide you on this journey you are about to take. It will be another test and trial, but in the end you’ll be protecting your nieces and nephews as well as setting yourself free from 9 years of pain, agony, trauma, and grief.

Insha’Allah when you have come through to the other side of healing, you will feel like a big burden has been lifted and you can truly begin to live your life in freedom and joy.

Know Allah loves you sister, and please know that you are a wonderful, pious, beautiful sister who deserves to live free from the chains of an abusive past. We wish you the best.

Salam,

***

Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees are liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

Read more:

https://aboutislam.net/reading-islam/living-islam/4-ways-to-heal-a-wounded-heart

https://aboutislam.net/counseling/ask-the-counselor/domestic-violence/said-sexual-abuse-fault/

https://aboutislam.net/family-life/gender-society/can-muslim-men-counter-sexual-harassment/

About Aisha Mohammad
Aisha received her PhD in psychology in 2000 and an MS in public health in 2009. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York. Aisha specializes in trauma, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach.
Aisha works at a Family Resource Center, and has a part-time practice in which she integrates healing and spirituality using a holistic approach. Aisha plans to open a holistic care counseling center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah. Aisha is also a part of several organizations that advocate for social & food justice. In her spare time she enjoys her family, martial arts classes, Islamic studies as well as working on her book and spoken word projects.