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Parental Discretion Advised
If you are a parent of children who read posts on MM, then this is one that you should read yourself first, before allowing them to read it, so that you can judge the benefit/harm. One benefit is that if there is any child, who has gone through such a situation, it may open a channel for him/her to discuss it with you.
Some links, when available, will open up separate posts, unless indicated otherwise:
- A. Approaching Their Families
- B. Emotional & Psychological Damages
- C. Personality Damage
- D. Intimacy & Marital Relationship
III. Prevention & Advice for the Victims' Families
IV. Healing is Possible: Advice for the Victims
- Part-A (This Post)
V. Advice for the Molesters
Healing is Possible- Advice to the Victims:
This section is not only for the victims, but also for the parents of the victims and anyone who may want to help.
The life of this world is full of tests and trials. The believers are tested in many different areas.
ولنبلونكم بشئ من الخوف والجوع ونقص من الاموال والانفس والثمرات …
“Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil)…” (2:155)
But even in our tests, Allāh's Mercy takes over and He rewards us for being tested:
“No Muslim is afflicted with any harm, even if it was (as minor as) the prick of a thorn, except that Allāh will grant him (a higher) rank and wipe out a sin due to this.” (Bukhāri)
We are tested in this world with different trials. Some children are born disabled, and their test is not because of any of their own fault, but because Allāh decides to test them with that disability. Some children are too young when their parents die. They grow up in far more difficult and harsh circumstances compared to other children, however their parents' death is not a result of any of their mistakes. Some children are born out of wedlock and they suffer because of the mistake their parents made, and not because of any of their own faults.
Every soul is tested with a difficult trial but not impossible to pass through successfully. This is the fundamental belief of every Muslim:
…لا ىكلف الله نفس الا وسعها
“On no soul doth Allāh place a burden greater than it can bear…” (2:286)
Tests and trial are an opportunity for us to strengthen our faith. A trial can become a blessing if, through that trial, a person tries to come closer to Allāh. Similarly, a blessing can become a curse if it leads a person towards arrogance, away from his Creator.
Let us proceed then, with the hope that the fitnah of sexual molestation becomes a source of forgiveness and increase in rank for all of my sisters who suffered through this tragedy.
Were You Sexually Molested?
Many victims remain unsure whether their experience fits in the definition of molestation.
Think back when you were young, if any of the following or something similar happened to you, then you were likely sexually molested:
· Fondled, hugged or kissed in an unusual way that felt bad and uneasy
· Touched unnecessarily on your private parts
· Forced to touch someone else's private parts
· Forced to take off all or some of your clothes, while someone watched
· Forced to perform oral sex, or have it performed on you
· Raped or anything forced into your genitals
· Forced to watch, or talk about sex
· Fondled or hurt genitally while being bathed
· Forced to watch seductive pictures/movies or forced to pose sexually for pictures
You are not Alone:
Dear victim of abuse and the one neglected by your parents, know and realize that recovery is possible. You have the ability to stand in the face of your trial, fight within yourself, heal and thrive.
Know that you are not the only one who was molested; rather, there are many. You are not the only one who was rejected by your family; rather, there are many. But if you are reading this, then consider it as a blessing from Allāh that He made available to you perhaps a chance to learn about your abuse and recover from it. Not everyone has the same chance. You could have been someone uneducated growing up in a village with no facilities or abilities to read, no internet or access to any books on this subject, and you might have never become aware that what happened to you was wrong and was NOT your fault, and you could have suffered and faced many problems for the rest of your lives.
Make yourself among those few who come out of this trial successfully.
Although it may not be easy to acknowledge that you were sexually molested, you have to know that acknowledgment is the first step towards healing. Even if your abuse was smaller compared to others, all sexual molestation is damaging. Sadly, the trauma caused by abuse does not end with the molestation and your personality may have been shaped based on what happened in your childhood, or you may be suffering the long term effects of it now.
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint the exact effect abuse may have had on you, because the effects can enter within you, your dealings with others, your sexuality and intimacy, your parenting and even your level of sanity.
Most importantly, how your tragedy was handled makes a difference on its impact in your life. If your confession to your family was handled properly and effectively, then your healing began immediately and you may have recovered soon after that. But if you were not believed, doubted, blamed, then your damage could be settled within you. And the way you coped so far, without proper help, may have caused further damage within you.
Don't Rely on Coping But Prepare Yourself for Healing:
Everyone learns to cope with their pain, effectively or ineffectively. But what can be expected of little children who build their own coping strategies without any proper assistance, how effective can be their coping method be?
Some of you might have coped through excelling in certain areas of your lives like education or work, but adapting unhealthy patterns in other areas, like blocking out emotions or withdrawing, yet some of you might have totally given into your abuse, and succumbed into downfall. You may partially or totally
· Deny that it ever happened
· Or pretend that it was not that bad
· Or believe that it happens to every child
· Or reason out molester's behavior
· Or forget and block out memories of molest
· Or develop a dual personality; an outer shell of normal life and a bruised inner self
· Or develop Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or Multiple Personalities
· Or avoid people, intimacy or close friendships to protect yourself
· Or become too overpowering and manipulative
· Or find satisfaction in self-destructive patterns like anorexia, or bulimia, or compulsive eating, or sexual addiction, or workaholism or even self-mutilation
If you have any or some of these behavior pattern or similar behavior, then you are coping through your pain. Your goal is not to cope like putting a bandage over a wound, rather to heal and thrive.
- Don't run away from your pain, face it.
- Remember and recall what happened.
- If you are still being molested, get out of that situation. Tell a family member, if they don't take any action, then reach out to someone else to get help. Know that to protect yourself is your responsibility and you are allowed to leave your house and stay somewhere else, where you are safe, IF your parents are not helping you.[http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/84426/molested]
- Get help.
It was not Your Fault:
You must acknowledge that it was not your fault. You must repeat this to yourself several times a day: Sexual abuse can never be the child's fault.
- If you wanted to get attention and affection and you felt like your molester was giving you that and you didn't fight back, even then it was not your fault. Remember, as a child you couldn't have differentiated between attention and molestation or being taken advantage of.
- If you had sexual pleasure when you were molested, there was nothing wrong with that, it didn't make you an evil person. Your body naturally responded to sexual stimulation. If you had an orgasm or felt good you should not feel ashamed because it was your body's natural reaction and not your fault.
Then why did it happen to you?
Remember that Allāh tests us through different avenues, and what happened to you was nothing more than a test also.
Sa'd ibn Abi Waqqaas said: I said: “O Messenger of Allāh, which of the people are most sorely tested?”
He said: “The Prophets, then the next best and the next best. A man will be tested in accordance with his level of religious commitment. If his religious commitment is strong, he will be tested more severely, and if his religious commitment is weak, he will be tested in accordance with his religious commitment. Calamity will keep befalling a person until he walks on the earth with no sin on him.” (Tirmidhi)
“The greatness of the reward goes with the greatness of the trial. Verily, if Allāh loves a people, He tries them. Whoever is pleased, shall have (Allāh's) pleasure. And whoever is angered shall have (Allāh's) anger.” (Tirmidhi)
Confide into Someone:
Break your silence. Once you have acknowledged that it was not your fault, then you don't need to feel ashamed or hide within yourself anymore. Talking to a trustworthy friend or a person of knowledge is always helpful. Many victims DO want to speak up, but because of the taboos around the issue, they feel uncomfortable and confused.
You may have been silenced by the molester or your own family, but you don't have to stay in your cage anymore. Find a good Muslim friend to confide in, someone who cares about you, someone you can trust and someone with whom you have shared your personal issues before.
It is a human nature to communicate and express feelings. Confining negative feelings within oneself out of fear is damaging to one's personality.
- Speak to a person of knowledge. Try to find one in your local area, and speak to him/her. People of knowledge always give valuable advice and offer words of comfort.
- Try to work with a group of abused children. It will remind you of how powerless children are, and it will help you realize that just like the children you work with didn't incur molestation upon themselves, neither did you, and it was not your fault.
- Unfortunately, since not many Muslim survivors step forward and talk about their mishap, it is difficult to formulate a “Muslim Child-Molestation Survivors”. But if you find one, then communication with such people will help you.
Cry it Out:
It is natural to grieve over tragedies, especially the tragedy of being helplessly molested as a child.
However, a believer is never “overpowered” by his/her grief. You will have your moments, ups and downs but don't forget that what happened to you was a test from Allāh, and Allāh never overburdens any soul. So whatever happened, you have the power and strength to overcome it otherwise Allāh azzawajal would never have tested you with it:
“On no soul does Allāh place a burden greater than it can bear…”
Remember, if you want your test to become a blessing for you, then you must use this test to bring yourself closer to Allāh. You will cry, as it is natural, and you should cry but try to cry in your prayers, so not only you cry out your pain, but cry it out in front of the One Who can help you overcome your pain.
- Make du‘ā’' for yourself, make your condition as an intercession in your du‘ā’
- Pray Qiyyam, you will feel an irreplaceable peace and sakeenah inside you
- Hang around good practicing Muslim friends
It is natural and okay to feel anger towards the molester. However, don't let anger overpower you either.
Remember, your goal is to turn this test into a blessing. Your molester hurt you, but you are not going to let him damage you anymore, you are not going to let him ruin the rest of your life. You have the power to take control of the situation now. Bring yourself above the lowly ground of the molester. Anyone can get angry at a wrongdoer, but you are not going to waste your time or energy in anger, rather you are going to do something beneficial and constructive for yourself, something your molester was too weak to do.
- Divert your anger by reading isti'aadha, or adhkaar. While the molester tried to ruin your life, you will overpower his evil plan by your spiritual strength.
- Every time you feel angry, drink water and start reading:
سبحان الله و بحمده سبحان الله عظىم
The Messenger of Allāh (salllahu alihi wasalam) said, “There are two statements that are light for the tongue to remember, heavy in the Scales and are dear to the Merciful: `Subhan-Allahi wa bihamdihi, Subhan-Allahil-Azim.” [Bukhāri]
- Buy some good Islamic CDs, and listen to them every time you feel angry.
- Call or visit your friend with whom you entrusted your “secret”.
- Attend a halaqah, go to the masjid or occupy yourself with something constructive.
- Make a diary and start writing the positive things that happened to you in your childhood every time you feel angry. Also, try to write about the blessings that you have now in your life. So you develop the habit of counting your blessings and not your mishaps.
- If you can, take an action against your molester. Not only it is the right thing to do but also you will feel satisfied that you protected other innocent children from his evil. Be careful though, because shaytaan might tempt you to exaggerate what the molester did to you to get him in deeper trouble and satisfy your anger.
Lastly, remember that the ultimate enemy, even worse than the molester himself, shaytaan ar-rajeem, does not want to see you overcome your anger. So he will continue to remind you of your tragedy, making you angrier, unless you battle him with adhkaar or prayer. Make it a point that every time you get angry, you make wuḍūʼ and pray two nafl until he ar-rajeem stops approaching you, bi idhnihi ta'ala.
Look at less unfortunate people:
The best way to cope with our tragedies is by adapting the beautiful advise of our beloved Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam, to look at less unfortunate people when it comes to matters of this life, and when it is about akhira then we should observe people who are more pious.
It is only for our own benefit and quick remedy to recover from our misfortunes, that we turn ourselves to the invaluable words of Prophet, sallallahu alihi wasalam.
- Visit sick people at the hospital
- Visit elderly in nursing homes
- Volunteer with disabled or terminally ill children
- Help Muslim refugees in your area and listen to their tragic stories
- Start a blog where you invite other Muslims victims to join in
- Join a scoial group or start one at the local masjid
Keeping around good company:
“The example of a good companion and a bad one is the bearer of musk and the worker on the bellows. A bearer of musk would give you some, you might buy some from him, or you might enjoy the fragrance of his musk. The worker on the bellows, on the other hand, might spoil your clothes with sparks from his bellows, or you get a bad smell from him.” (Muslim)
A good practicing Muslim friend will:
- Offer you good tips and valuable advice.
- Help you increase your patience and tawakkul
- Emotionally help you by being on your side
- Be like a mirror and will not spread rumors about you
- Help you become busy with good constructive activities
- Make you come closer to Allāh, and that's what you need in time of your adversity
Glad Tidings for the patient ones:
The concluding part of the verse that I quoted in the beginning on Allāh testing us with different aspects of our lives is:
و بشرالصابرىن الدىن ادا أصابتهم مصىبة قالو إنا لله وإنا إلىه راجعون. أولاءك علىهم صلوات من ربهم ورحمة و أولاءك هم المهتدون
“and give glad tidings to the patients”
- Meaning that when Allāh test His slaves, the good news of passing the test is for the patient ones.
- However, patience is at the heat of the moment, and not after complaining and loudly wailing over it, as the Prophet sallallahu alihi wasalam explained to a woman in Bukhāri and Muslim.
- One Sheikh on Islam-qa, beautifully describes patience:
“Allāh has made patience like a horse that never gets tired, an army that can never be defeated and a strong fortress that can never be breached…” http://islam-qa.com/en/ref/35869/patience
- Messenger of Allāh, sallallahu alaihi wasalam, said: “There is no Muslim who is stricken with a calamity and says what Allāh has enjoined –
إنا لله وإنا إلىه راجعون اللهم أجرنى فى مصيبتى وخلفلى خيرمنها
'Verily to Allāh we belong and unto Him is our return. O Allāh, reward me for my affliction and compensate me with something better' but Allāh will compensate him with something better.”
- Read stories of Prophets, companions and pious predecessors and how they withstood trials with patience. It always helps us build patience and tawakkul.
- What more could be the incentive for a victim to be patient with her calamity than to know that Allāh is with those who are patient:
“O you who believe! Seek help in patience and ṣalāh. Truly, Allāh is with the patient.” (2:153)
Qaadhi Shuraih beautifully describes his status during trials:
To be continued next Thursday (Part IV-B) and following Thursday (Part V)
If I am afflicted with any affliction, I praise Allāh four times: I praise Allāh that the affliction was not greater than it is; I praise Him when He gives me the patience to withstand the affliction; I praise Him for guiding me to the statement, 'We belong to Allāh and to Him we are returning'; and I praise Him for not making that affliction affect my religion. (The ascription to Qaadhi Shuraih is found in Muḥammad al-Dhahabi, Siyar Alaam al-Nubala, vol. 4, p. 105)
- The Safe Child Book by Sherryll Kraizer, Ph.D., pub. Simon & Schuster
- No Ordinary Life by Sandy Knauer L.C.S.W., pub. Charles Thomas
- The Courage to Heal by Ellen Bass & Laura Davis, pub. HarperCollins