Psychological Tsunami | Haleh Banani

The Effects of Domestic Violence

By:  Haleh Banani, MA Clinical Psychology

As Huda slowly gained consciousness on the floor, she became aware of her surroundings. She felt the cold tile beneath her and the taste of blood in her mouth.  The thundering sound of her husband, yelling and cursing at her, became disturbingly clear and his menacing image slowly came into focus.  Fear filled her heart that he may strike again. Her trembling body felt so weak, helpless and vulnerable.  He ruthlessly kicked her in her gut one last, fatal blow.  Huda was pronounced dead later that evening along with her baby girl who had survived 6 months of brutality in the womb.

There are millions of desperate women like Huda who live their life in constant terror, feeling trapped and unworthy of love.   Many of them suffer silently, too immobilized by fear and too consumed with shame to expose their husbands.

Domestic violence transcends socioeconomic status, affecting all levels of income, education, ethnicity, religion and occupation. This tragedy poisons our societies worldwide. The first simple and necessary step is awareness.

Shocking Statistics:

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  • 2,000 to 4,000 women are beaten to DEATH annually in the U.S.
  • According to the Center for Disease over 300,000 PREGNANT WOMEN report suffering abuse during pregnancy.1
  • Every day, at least three  women are killed in the U.S. by their partners.2
  • Nearly 6 million women will be battered in any single year.
  • Battery is the SINGLE MAJOR CAUSE of injury to women exceeding street rape, muggings or auto accidents.
  • In the U.S., a woman’s chance of being assaulted at home by her partner is greater than those of a police officer being assaulted on the job.

Domestic violence affects the psychological and emotional well being of a woman the way a tsunami brings colossal destruction and unparalleled devastation to a metropolitan city. The unpredictability and dangerous nature of men who abuse their wives creates terror, anxiety and depression in women, the way a storm indiscriminately destroys  without warning; leaving  inhabitants in a state of shock and constant fear.  The deep, emotional scars last much longer than the superficial bruises and broken bones that usually demand our attention and provoke our sympathy. The emotional debris will take years to completely be cleared causing emotional bankruptcy and  vulnerability which can lead to suicide.  The ferocious waves of violence cause a series of long lasting, psychological damages:

Domestic violence floods women with feelings of sadness, hopelessness and despair which generally lead to depression. 60% of battered women reported having depression which is the most common symptom of domestic violence.3  Depression is a mood disorder in which feelings of sadness, loss, anger, or frustration interfere with everyday life for weeks or longer.  Sadness affects every aspect of life: thoughts, feelings, sleeping, eating, physical health, relationships and the ability to function at work.  When victims experience interpersonal violence from a spouse or family member, they are at high risk for mental and emotional illnesses. There is a strong feeling of abandonment, betrayal and instability when they are abused by someone who should be protecting and nurturing them.

Although it is natural to feel sad when faced with difficult tests, as a believer it is critical to understand that there is wisdom in everything that happens.  Understanding and accepting divine destiny does not mean tolerating abuse by any means.  It simply means that life is filled with tests and that trust needs to be placed in Allah while searching for the right solutions.

It was narrated by Suhayb that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “How amazing is the condition of the believer, for all his affairs are good. If something good happens to him, he gives thanks for it and he is rewarded; if something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience, and he is also awarded.”  Narrated by Muslim (2999).

Do not despair of solace from Allah.  No one despairs of solace from Allah except for people who do not believe.  (Surah Yusuf 87)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
After the devastation of domestic violence, most women experience the aftershock of abuse: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder which can occur after you’ve seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death. It is very common for victims of domestic violence to continue to fear their spouse even if they have separated.  PTSD is characterized by symptoms such as flashbacks, intrusive imagery, nightmares, anxiety, emotional numbing, insomnia, hyper-vigilance and avoidance of traumatic triggers.  There are many factors that affect the intensity of PTSD:  severity of the violence, the duration of exposure, early-age onset and the victim’s cognitive assessment of the violence (perceived degree of threat, predictability and control-ability).

The way to cope with any form of anxiety is turning to Allah and trusting His plan while striving hard to overcome the fear.

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “No exhaustion, pain, anxiety, grief, harm or distress befalls a Muslim, not even a thorn that pricks him, but Allah will expiate some of his sins with them.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari (5318) and Muslim (2573).

Fear and anxiety consume a victim of domestic violence the way a tidal wave engulfs a city.  The fear lingers in a woman’s psyche long after the abuse has taken place.  This anxiety can prevent her from concentrating, falling asleep and performing at home or work.  Paranoia and inability to trust others are the most frequent traits of the victims of domestic violence.  25 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders which are the most common of emotional disorders. Some of the symptoms may include:

  • Overwhelming feelings of panic and fear
  • Uncontrollable obsessive thoughts
  • Painful, intrusive memories
  • Recurring nightmares
  • Physical symptoms such as feeling sick to your stomach, “butterflies” in your stomach, heart pounding, startling easily and muscle tension

The most beloved people, the prophets, were tested the most.  It is essential to keep the stories of the prophets in mind and recall that instead of feeling anxious when faced with threat, oppression and harm, they put their trust in Allah.

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ

We will test you with a certain amount of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and life and fruits.  But give good news to the steadfast (Surat al-Baqara, 155)

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ

“Those who believe, and whose hearts find satisfaction in the remembrance of Allah: Without a doubt in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find satisfaction. (Al-Raad 28)

Low Self-Esteem
Verbal and emotional abuse are like earthquakes that brutally shake the foundation of a woman’s self-esteem.  They shatter her self- confidence, tear down her sense of security and destroy her self-respect .  Each degrading remark, criticism and profanity is like a bulldozer that vehemently annihilates her sense of self-worth.  The deep, emotional and psychological scars that are burned into her heart from the cursing, name-calling and humiliation will disable her from achieving her potentials, nurturing her children and attaining peace. She becomes so crippled emotionally that it is next to impossible to leave.

Like the victims of natural disasters that discover they have nothing left to live for, victims of domestic violence feel so overwhelmed with grief and hopelessness that many attempt suicide.  The feeling of helplessness and hopelessness that many victims fall prey to has a profoundly undermining effect on their mental and emotional well being.4 Many times these women simply give up on life and they experience learned helplessness where they lose the will to live.  Here are some of the signs of suicide contemplation:

  • Talking about killing or harming one’s self
  • Expressing strong feelings of hopelessness or being trapped
  • An unusual preoccupation with death or dying
  • Acting recklessly, as if they have a death wish (e.g. speeding through red lights)
  • Calling or visiting people to say goodbye
  • Getting affairs in order (giving away prized possessions, tying up loose ends)
  • Saying things like “Everyone would be better off without me” or “I want out.”

If you think a friend or family member is considering suicide, express your concern and seek professional help immediately. Talking openly about suicidal thoughts and feelings can save a life.6

See Suicide Prevention: Signs of Suicide and How to Help a Suicidal Person.

The problems and difficulties that people endure are known and for a temporary period of time.  Compare that to being faced with the unknown punishment in the hereafter for committing suicide for all eternity.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لَا تَأْكُلُوا أَمْوَالَكُم بَيْنَكُم بِالْبَاطِلِ إِلَّا أَن تَكُونَ تِجَارَةً عَن تَرَاضٍ مِّنكُمْ ۚ وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ بِكُمْ رَحِيمًا

O you who have believed, do not consume one another’s wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves [or one another]. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful. 4:29

After a psychological tsunami that ruthlessly destroys feelings of self-worth and security, there needs to be massive action taken to recover from the lasting damages.  The first step is to clean up the emotional debris and the shattered feelings. Time and money needs to be invested to reestablish self-worth.  If the amount of damage is overwhelming, seek the support  and guidance of professionals to overcome the devastation.   Next, focused effort needs to be put in rebuilding self-esteem.  By not internalizing the negative, destructive comments of others and reconfirming all positive traits, self-respect and dignity will be rebuilt.  Trust in the self and in others will be essential in creating a strong foundation for developing lasting relationships.  Perhaps the most important aspect of recovery is to gain hope in the future.  Once the fire of hope is ignited it will shine so brightly and provide the necessary motivation to overcome all obstacles and to help others facing the same challenges.

If you or someone you know is a VICTIM of abuse know:

  1. You are NOT ALONE
  2. There are avenues for HELP
  3. Ensure the SAFETY of you and your children
  4. You are a VALUABLE person who is worthy of love
  5. It is NEVER ACCEPTABLE to be physically, verbally or emotionally abused

Narrated Abu Ma’bad, that the Prophet said, “… and be afraid of the supplication of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah.” Sahih Bukhari: Volume 2, Book 24, Number 573.

If you or someone you know is the ABUSER:

  1. Seek professional help to MANAGE YOUR ANGER
  2. It is not too late to CHANGE YOURSELF and CHANGE YOUR LIFE
  3. Find an OUTLET (sport or other activity) to release stress and frustration
  4. Seek the SUPPORT of family and friends

“Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is oppressed.” The Prophet was asked: “It is right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” He replied: “By preventing him from oppressing others.” Sahih Bukhari, Volume 3, Hadith 624

In Islam,  Prophet Mohammad (peace and prayer upon him) taught us to live with impeccable character and to treat our spouse with kindness, compassion and understanding. He said  that the best man is he who is best to his wife. We should all aspire to live by his exceptional  example.


  2. Types of Trauma: Domestic Violence – San Francisco depression |
  4. Types of Trauma: Domestic Violence – San Francisco depression |
  6. Suicide Prevention: Signs of Suicide and How to Help a Suicidal Person.


39 / View Comments

39 responses to “Psychological Tsunami | Haleh Banani”

  1. Bismillah,

    The strike of a male..can’t really call them a man, towards his wife and children is an act of desperation and weakness. Its similar to a dictator trying desperately to cling to power. The moment his family understand this the end of his tyranny is near.

    I say openly in the Jumah prayers, if you beat your wife and children to the extent that it is reasonably assessed to be abuse, I will call the police myself to lock you up. I say clearly, “No excuse for Abuse.” If she is no good, leave her…don’t beat her.”

    Allah protectnus all from oppression and anger.
    Yahy ibrahim

    • Read says:

      “to the extent that it is reasonably assessed to be abuse”?

      ANY beating is abuse, and should be dealt with immediately.

      • Dealt with need not always be an Imam notifying the Police.

        By law I am governed by mandatory reporting laws of Abuse. Abuse means different things to different people.

        In Australia, for example, disciplining a child with a short corrective smack to the bum is not seen as abuse.

        In canada that is not the case.

        Reasonable is a court imposed diffrentiator.

        yahya Ibrahim

    • Haleh says:

      JazakAllah khair Sheikh for the correction – it’s Sura Yusuf 87

      It is very cowardly to take out frustrations on someone who is physically weaker and who is emotionally & financially dependent. Your absolutely right – there is NO EXCUSE FOR ABUSE! Excellent slogan.


    • Umm Sulaim says:

      I used to say openly “If you are not pleased with your wife, DIVORCE HER. Do not torment her,” as far back as 11 years ago prior to my previous marriage. I would be met with stares or comments such as, “I do not believe in divorcing women”.

      I have to say I have heard the same responses from women, especially those who are MISERABLE in their marriage.

      Umm Sulaim

      • Umaymah says:

        I would give you the same look quite frankly! If you are not pleased with your wife, be patient, Allah swt has put other things in her that will please you for one.  Seek guidance besides that, don’t be ashamed to ask for help (and look within, what are you doing wrong too?). 

        I’m sorry but divorce SHOULD be rare, especially the longer the couple has stayed together (whether or not there are children involved there are two extended families involved anyway). Studies have shown that plenty of married people who have claimed themselves to be MISERABLE in their marriages have five years later stated that they are in a much better place. Marriage can be a roller coaster, it’s a terrible notion that the only real cure for misery in a marriage is to mistreat the wife (or other spouse) OR divorce…what about actually working on the marriage and yourself? What about learning patience? Especially if there is still much love between the spouses, just not being pleased with the other for a year or two isn’t reason to torment them (and yourself, because if you love them that IS what you will be doing). 

        It’s actually haram if I am not mistaken to suggest divorce for people! You aren’t allowed to try to break up marriages or even to promote it. 

        Iblis has his throne in the sea, and he sends out his dispatchments of shaytan to aggravate people. The dearest of them to him is the one who causes the most fitna (tribulation).One of his workers comes and tells him “I did not leave (my victim) until I brought about separation between him and his wife.” Iblis draws him near and says to him, “Yes, You (are the best).”Muslim

  2. ummabdulRahman says:


    I am so thankful to ALLAH TaAlaa that this issue is being addressed! It is long over due. May ALLAH TaAlaa aid and assist all the shuyook who are joing this movement against abuse. Islam is the religion of peace — abuse and oppression have no place within it! May ALLAH TaAlaa grant releif to every sister in this plight by sending her support from places she could never imagine. Education and sincere adherence to the way of our beloved Messenger Prophet Muhammad (sallalhu alayhi wa sallam) is a step towards prevention and cure, and a solution to all of lifes affairs.

  3. […] the rest here: Domestic Violence Series: Psychological Tsunami- the effects of abuse – MuslimMatters Categories : […]

  4. Haleh says:

    Domestic violence plagues all societies – insha’Allah through the effort of MM and the khutbah’s given by our shiyookh there will be more awareness and less abuse.

    It is through ignorance that much of the abuse takes place. It is also due to a lack of coping skills when dealing with stress and anger. Many people just lash out when they are enraged without thinking and without self-restraint. It is so critical to learn self-control. As the Prophet Mohammad said (peace and salat upon him) that a strong person is not one who brings his opponent to the ground- the strong person is the one who controls his anger!

    • ummYusra says:


      I was abused throughout my marriage. A few years ago I tried to seek psychological treatment for my ex husband. Instead I was blamed and the worst of allegations were leveled against me. I sought and obtained Khula but still the allegations have not stopped. Now my ex husband and his family want to have visitation with my child.

      Given what I have suffered I dont want my child to have any access to them – because of their falsehood. Would I be wrong in the eyes of Allah in preventing this? Is there any law Islamically which can help me?

      May Allah reward you

      • Haleh says:

        Wa alaikomos Salam sister,
        I’m sorry for the abuse you endured. It must have been very heart breaking.

        The question you raise needs to be addressed by a sheikh who knows the fiqh of these
        issues. I will forward your question to a sheikh on MM inshaAllah.

        May Allah protect you and your child.


      • Juju says:

        ASA ummYusra,

        as I am in a VERY similar situation, I asked myself if it is possible to get in touch with each other isA? Via email or so? As there is nobody out there who can really get my situation.

        JAK wa salam

  5. Rasha says:

    Masha’Allah sis Haleh a beautiful and beneficial article as usual.
    Jazaky Allah khir.

  6. Haleh says:

    Wa iyyaki…inshaAllah that it helps raise awareness.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Reading this article, wow. I can’t believe people actually hit their wives. I’d never do that, ever.

    On a personal note, I definitely have had signs of depression and PTSD for a year now – just about every symptom applies to me. This is the result of a broken engagement, where she walked all over me, broke it off in a less than fun way (said I was “too religious”), got engaged and married fairly quickly afterwards.

    At first I was resilient and pushed through the pain. This meant more Qur’an, more dhikr, etc. But after months, and months and months I wore down. I sought help from trusted friends who were amazing. Sadly, my masjid kicked me while I was down and indirectly called me unstable, which caused me to quit a position I held there. I’ve tried very very hard to get out of this state (burying myself in other things, increasing my masjid attendance, long sincere du’a night after night, using the time to explore the world, have new life experiences, etc) and prayed to Allah for help all this time. But that help never came. Never. And I waited a lonnggg time. I still wake up having had a bad dream, or randomly have “flash backs”, DEEP regrets, or a feeling of being left behind and forgotten about.

    I don’t think I was ever seriously suicidal, but I did toy around with the idea. I’m not breaking down into tears when alone or take “bathroom breaks” at work to cry in the limited privacy of a stall. So that’s good. But long-term, I would say I’m somewhere between Muslim and agnostic at this point (studied too much logic and ‘aqidah to go atheist). I recently gave up praying all together and have no intentions to return to it until Allah removes all pain in my heart and compensates me – I made a million first moves and he did nothing, so now he has to make the first move and only then I’ll being prayer again. From time to time I have the urge to pray, but then think if Islam is true, then God put me through this, and I am not going to pray to him until he fixes what he did.

    The best analogy I can use to explain how I feel is of a person walking down a path when suddenly he is attacked and beaten. He tries to defend himself, but to no avail. Then a strike hits him in the eyes blinding him. He tries to run in the direction he knows best, but the strikes keep coming. He calls out to his guide for help, but the guide doesn’t respond. Confused and lost, he wants to escape the pain, but does not know where to turn. The path is Islam. The strikes are the pains we go through in life. And calling out to the guide who never responds is calling out to God who never talks back to us.

    Because I’m a male, this will never be discussed. Its only bad when it happens to women.

    • Umm Sulaim says:

      From being a Muslim is developing a RELATIONSHIP with Allah. This begins with UNDERSTANDING Who Allah is, the core of which is the ACKNOWLEDGEMENT that Allah is not ones enemy.

      COMMUNICATION between Allah and His slave depends on whether the slave pays attention, for Allah hears and responds to ones prayers.

      Personally, I have never restricted my INTERACTION with Allah to the obvious Qiyam, Saum, etc; I CHAT with Allah at all times, standing, prone, walking, etc.

      I convey my wishes and plans – though He is already aware of them – to Him for approval and work towards each goal. If I encounter a disappointment, – my life is full of such – I simply tell Him, “You remain my Rabb and I Your Slave”.

      I know nothing happens to a Believer except GOOD. I simply search for ways to turn that misfortune into positive, another hallmark of my life.

      Indeed, though Allah remains Sovereign, to us, He is precisely as we PERCEIVE Him.

      Umm Sulaim

    • bint Abbas says:

      Please do not despair. Do not let Shaitan misguide you. Please continue praying – don’t impose your wordly expectations and time limitations on Allah SWT’s response. You do not know when and how your prayer will be answered. Also, ask for forgiveness and mercy.

      Someone asked Ali ibn Abi Talib (RA), “How do we know that the problem that has come on us is a punishment or trial?”
      Ali (RA) replied, “A punishment will take you away from Allah, whilst a trial will take you towards Allah.”

    • Haleh says:

      It sound like you are very hurt and frustrated. You felt abandoned by your fiance and now you feel abandoned by Allah. This feeling of abandonment can really shake your feeling of inner security – I won’t pretend that I know what you are going through because only a person who has experienced the pain can really understand.

      When things don’t go the way we plan then it’s easy to want to throw in the towel, especially when we feel we have done our best and we have prayed and prayed. The most important thing to remember when faced with these life shattering experiences is to realize that there is a master plan. Our plan may not have worked out for a number of reasons. For instance, your fiance left you because you were ‘too religious’ – what if you were to spend every single day of your life arguing about religion if you got married or worse what if your children would get misguided by her – I have seen so many cases like this where there is a chasm between the husband and wife regarding religion and the children are either confused or they convert. Can you imagine living with that? If it didn’t work out with her then it was for the best and You have to believe that. Many times we want something so bad not realizing that it’s not in our best interest.

      I understand that you put forth a lot of effort to pray and get closer to Allah but since your dua was not answered you feel upset and now you somehow feel resentment. Brother, you need to know that even if your dua is not answered in exactly the way you wanted it – it is not wasted. When we pray or make supplication 1 of 3 things may occur: it is either answered, some harm is removed from our qadr or it is reserved for a time when we will need it most and thats in the hereafter when our eternal fate will be established. So your prayers have not been wasted.

      Having anger, resentment and not being able to forgive only harms you and makes you a bitter person. You need to learn to let go and move on. I encourage you to watch my show on forgiveness – you can search for it on Youtube under Haleh Banani. It’s a 2 part episode and it will really address many aspects of forgiveness.

      Just know that the only time we will get our duas answered and feel closeness to Allah is when we are humble and sincerely accepting our destiny without questioning it. By knowing the names and attributes of Allah our hearts will be filled with love and humility. We only oppress our own selves by not praying – that is why your soul is craving it. You are starving your own soul.

      It is never to late to repent for your shortcomings and start a new chapter in your life brother. I know that deep inside you long to have the same conviction – you simply have stopped some behaviors (prayer) and once you start again with a clean heart you will regain that same connection insha’Allah.

      May Allah help you in this path


    • Hala says:

      Inna ma’al ‘usri yusra. Indeed, with hardship comes ease.

      I hope you take a long look at what you’ve written though. You wouldn’t hit a woman, no matter what, but you are okay with not praying until Allah gives you what you want. Some abusive men tell their wives that they would stop mistreating their wives when their wives no longer give them a reason to mistreat them…Something to think about.

    • Manna says:

      May Allah subhana wata’ala guide you to the truth. Think about some of the reasons why your dua was not accepted.

      More importantly, do NOT be impatient, for Allah answers duas as long as someone does not become impatient and gives up making dua.

      Your arrogance and the whisperings of shaytaan are leading you to this so think this through many times. If you think you are facing difficulty and are not having your prayers answered (within a time period you self imposed) then know that there are others that faced much more difficulty than you – for much longer. The best example being Rasoolullah swalallahu a’alahi wa sallam.

      InshaAllah I will make dua for you. Turn back and beginning by examining your salah.

    • anon says:

      I am sorry for what you have been through. Unfortunately I almost thought that it is my emotional abusive husband that wrote it. He said he’ll never beat a woman but his criticism, belittling and undermining emotional abuse has left more lasting effect. He also said that everything is other people fault including God. I hope everyone can see how an abusive man has completely different mindset and belief that make it impossible for them to change.

  8. Omar says:

    How can a sister know before marriage whether this brother who has come forward to marry her is the type of person who would physically abuse her after they are married? Is there a way for her to know at all? Is there a specific profile or are there certain characteristics which these type of men display? (I know some people would say anger, but I don’t think that this is a good indicator that the man who gets angry will automatically get physically violent. Besides, anger (as well as some other characteristics) is something which can be, and actually is, hidden early on and throughout the engagement period and it usually isn’t displayed until later on during the marriage, so I wouldn’t advise sisters to rely on such an indicator).

    • fez says:

      They way they treat their younger siblings / juniors at work / those over whom they have authority may be a small indicator I guess….

    • Haleh says:

      It is really hard to tell because many of the men that abuse have a very polished exterior, they are friendly and no one would ever guess that they are abusive.

      There are some things that can be done to try to assess but it’s never 100%
      (The things I suggest need to be done either in a group or with supervision – I’m not suggesting to be in khalwa)
      *It’s important to see your prospect in marriage in many different environments to assess his reaction to delays, set backs and disappointment. Everyone can be their best in a non-stimulating, pleasant env.
      *Seeing his driving – does he have road rage?
      *Is he excessively jealous, obsessive and controlling? Most men who abuse are power hungry.
      *Does he prevent you from seeing your friends or family? Abusive men try to cut off the support line
      *Talk about articles or incidents in the news about abuse and see his reaction

      In reality, one can never be completely sure so it’s best to pray istekhareh, pray tahajud and ask Allah to protect you or your loved ones from abusive partners.


    • Nuraini says:

      very hard, especially if you come from a background that discourages you to get to know your prospective husband before marriage. i hear that some abusers are good to others he meets socially, but not to his wife. maybe it’s good to really understand what role is a wife in his view. my warning flags would be a tendency to isolate you or limit you from your former friends and your family, a tendency to dominate and control your movements and choices, a more dictatorial preference to approaching potential future household issues rather than collaborative or consultative. i mean, i guess some men like that may not be physical abusers, but i figure if i avoid them generally, i’ll also be avoiding the abusers.

      my experience was easier, as my husband is well-known to family and close friends to be kind to animals, and usually this reflects an overall gentle soul. i mean, if he even catches insects alive and set them free outside and rescues ants from puddles, he’s not going to beat his wife. we also corresponded for years before getting married, so i knew him very well ahead of time. someone who is gentle to animals, feels strongly about injustice, views a wife as a fully equal life partner and seeks to choose for the position one he admires and loves, highly unlikely to beat his wife. it also helps if his family are reasonable people and likes you. it means he is likely to have been raised well, and that his own family expects good behaviour from him and will not excuse abusive behaviour. i’m lucky enough that both our mothers tend to side with their child-in-law rather than their child, because they figure their own children should be the one to give in as a good spouse.

      i really don’t understand how anyone could marry without finding out at least this much. it’s just like salespeople and scam artists – if people are rushing you to something, be suspicious. even if it’s your own parents. it might mean they don’t want you to have enough time to think it through. it’s your life on the line after all, not theirs.

      • Omar says:

        They way they treat their younger siblings / juniors at work / those over whom they have authority may be a small indicator I guess….

        True, but all these relationships are very different than that of marriage. Also it is not that easy to know how they are treating these people.

        *Seeing his driving – does he have road rage?
        *Is he excessively jealous, obsessive and controlling? Most men who abuse are power hungry.

        I personally don’t think that these two above are good indicators.

        *Does he prevent you from seeing your friends or family? Abusive men try to cut off the support line

        This usually isn’t apparent until after marriage.

        *It’s important to see your prospect in marriage in many different environments to assess his reaction to delays, set backs and disappointment. Everyone can be their best in a non-stimulating, pleasant env.

        I think that is a good suggestion, but even then many people still act differently when around others, especially a potential spouse. How do you know if he is acting? Also, what type of reactions would be good indicators to watch out for?

        very hard, especially if you come from a background that discourages you to get to know your prospective husband before marriage.

        I don’t think that “knowing” or not knowing your prospective husband is an issue here. The fact of the matter is that things are never apparent no matter how long or short they get to know each other, and you hear many incidents in which the couple “fall in love” or they might have known each other for a long time, but then after marriage the man suddenly “changes.”

        i hear that some abusers are good to others he meets socially, but not to his wife.

        I think that is true in many of the cases. So trying to observe how he treats others might be a bit misleading some times.

        . i mean, i guess some men like that may not be physical abusers, but i figure if i avoid them generally, i’ll also be avoiding the abusers.

        True, but then again if you avoid them all generally based on this indicator which isn’t that specific, you might also be missing out on some good brothers, perhaps even the right person for you who will be the best husband for you. One might say, if I avoid marriage altogether, I will also be avoiding the abusers. I know that is a stretch from what you were saying, but it seems to me like they are both in the same direction, and where would one draw the line with such a generalization?

  9. Red says:

    I believe the article should also point out that men can also be on the receiving end of abuse. Even in the Muslim community, its just not talked about.

    • Haleh says:

      Your so right brother – men do get physically abused by their wives unfortunately and it is hardly ever reported. I have seen cases where women have very strong personalities and are physically stronger than their husbands who are quiet and unlikely to defend themselves. This can be very damaging to the man’s self-esteem.

      This article was already lenghty so I tried to limit it to only DV for women since they are in the majority.

      The only way to stop the abuse is to address it and possibly have family members intervene – it may be embarressing, but the abuse has got to stop!


    • Sunshine says:

      True, but it isn’t haram for a man to disobey his wife, so he has more options. Also, it isn’t haram for him to divorce her withoput her permission, whereas it is much more difficult for a woman to obtain a divorce.

      So yes, abuse does happen to men, but their reasons for remaining with an abusive wife are not religious reasons. I think that is why Muslims don’t talk about it – because it is a cultural issue rather than a religious one.

  10. Nada W. says:

    Haleh, love your posts, i came across this site by coincidence and from now im gonna follow it. I was abused by my Dad for most of my life and it affected me seriously, to the point that now i suffer from Pure O. It’s a constant struggle and I hope you can give me some advice on how to deal with it. I take my meds and see my dr every week but sometimes the depression and thoughts become overwhelming that i can’t cope with my life.. especially college. I’m 20, studying dentistry in egypt, and its a very stressful college. The OCD had been creeping up on me for a long time and i never noticed until i suffered a severe nervous breakdown, it’s been over a year since ive been receiving treatment but let me tell you something, in the midst of all this pain, i found something great, i found God. i never knew him, but now i do. and sometimes i dont care if im in pain, because how could i complain when Allah is my lord? 
    I hope you can give me some simple advice on dealing with the depressive/ocd episodes. Thank you habibty 

  11. Umaymah says:

    Salam o aleikum, 

    While this is an important subject that needs to be brought up I must say that PERSONALLY I am so tired of hearing about it yet I know it needs to be said but UGH. I want to hear more about not being shy to ask for help in a marriage, their is no modesty when it comes to deen but people (especially men it seems) are so afraid of feeling ashamed that they let their marriages fall apart and then what do we tell the sisters? Oh don’t worry,it’s not such a big deal, plenty of people divorce and move on.  Ok, I get it. We shouldn’t be made to feel that divorce is the worst thing in the world but let’s be frank, we are letting the ummah down. It doesn’t matter if the couple has children or not, these divorces should not be happening the way they are PERIOD. How many men really follow all the steps before deciding on divorce?  How many men really follow the ruling about not divorcing during the wife’s menstruation or during a period before menstruation when he has already slept with her? I know of women of practicing brothers who have been divorced a few hours after having sex with their wives. This is cruel and unusual. How many really use the iddah time to reflect? I have heard of far too many brothers that leave the home during the iddah never to sleep their again just to avoid being tempted to come back to their wives. This breaks my heart and it should break all of yours too. Marriages don’t last 7 years only to fail because of “incompatibility”. These are excuses that are given after the fact to justify something that has no right to be justified in such a way. Sihr is real, I am not saying all of these divorces are broken up because of sihr but I will say that for every divorce there is a jinn being praised by Iblees. 

    Iblis has his throne in the sea, and he sends out his dispatchments of shaytan to aggravate people. The dearest of them to him is the one who causes the most fitna (tribulation).One of his workers comes and tells him “I did not leave (my victim) until I brought about separation between him and his wife.” Iblis draws him near and says to him, “Yes, You (are the best).”MuslimThis is the reality brothers and sisters, to deny it is an injustice. To not fight against it is a further injustice. If you hear a bro or sis is getting divorced you should tell your Imam and he should approach those involved to see if anything can be done…This, I don’t believe is backbiting – it’s wanting what’s best for your fellow sibling in Islam and it’s fighting against the shayateen.

  12. ibbu says:

    ‘m suffering from pure o which is a very resistant and hard to treat more of ocd if you want to understand my intrusive thoughts and how difficult it is dealing with them type in “scrupulosity” in and read the intrusive thoughts of people suffering from pure o described on the page and whoever can think of any ideas or techniques to deal

  13. SANA says:

    An very clearly written, impactful article!! It will make sense to Muslims all over the world, especially women, because they can relate to it. Written in the light of faith and the context of Islamic guidance on obligations, ethics, and rights, as well as moral responsibilities towards each other, as two genders, and in our roles as spouses, and people living in a community or a nation; the issues addressed in this article speak to each one of those roles and motivate them to speak up and take concrete actions to PREVENT domestic violence. And that piece is much more needed, so that another instance of domestic abuse can be curtailed.

  14. […] Suicide Prevention: Signs of Suicide and How to Help a Suicidal Person. Read More » via [MuslimMatters.Org] […]

  15. Anna says:

    I need a good psychologist/ therapist living in Cairo- Egypt. If you could suggest someone dr Haleh, it would be a great help. I’m a convert living in Cairo and after years of emotional abuse I cannot handle things by myself- imams here do not speak English.
    Thank you

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