Unspoken for: The Unheard Victims of Domestic Violence Part 1

Domestic Violence Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

This article was written anonymously and submitted through Salma Elkadi Abugideiri, a Licensed Professional Counselor.

In light of recent events highlighting domestic violence in our ummah, there is an unspoken casualty in the war of domestic violence. Abusive spouses may also be abusive parents. Furthermore, an abused spouse may in turn lash out and abuse the children from all the built up frustration and anger within the marriage. This is is how it was in my home.

The bad beginning

Although pictures speak a thousand words, our family photos never spoke the truth of what went on behind closed doors. Our house had been built with sturdy walls, but our home lacked a true and strong foundation of love. Both of my parents immigrated to the United States and, like most immigrants, brought along their cultural baggage and mindset. Although I will never know objectively how their marriage was in the beginning, according to my mother my father was verbally and physically abusive towards her. Growing up, I watched my parents fight with such passion and intensity that I am surprised, but thankful, that neither of them killed the other (although my mother did threaten my father with various sharp objects during some of their disputes). Nasty words were tossed back and forth like a tennis match, each one trying to beat the other at the vicious game. Sometimes my siblings and I would stand up for our mother, resulting in our father telling us to shut up and stay out of it, even retaliating against us.

My parents’ disputes could and would start over anything and everything, although money and invalidating of feelings were two strong sparks. My mother believed divorce was not an option because she could not work and support all of us herself. My father did divorce my mother once in a fit of anger, but then asked for her back. He told me he loved my mother and would never want to divorce her as this would break our family apart. Despite the illusion that our family is together, it is broken.

Like this?
Get more of our great articles.

This was the marriage upon which our family was built. Children were brought into this environment because, like many people, my parents never questioned their ability to be good role models nor pondered the responsibility that came with having kids. In fact, it’s a rite of passage – school, marriage and then children  – and there is no question or deviation from this. As you might imagine, it was not a nurturing nor loving atmosphere to grow up in. Before we were old enough to understand or defend ourselves, we were thrown into the battlefield and became targets of violence and psychological warfare

Faces behind the masks

 

People are often shocked when they learn about a domestic violence case, when they discover a person’s true nature and their hidden actions within the confines of their house. The truth is, looks can be deceiving and there is no way to distinguish someone who is abusive from one who is not by their outward appearance. Usually, the only ones who know the real faces behind the masks are those being abused and anyone the victims choose to tell.

 

There are no tell-tale signs of abusive parents, dysfunctional families or “victims” of abuse. My parents are practicing Muslims who frequent Islamic events and outwardly show their devotion to Islam. My father prays Jumuah and both Fajr and Isha in the masjid. My mother watches religious programs, wears hijab, goes to Umrah whenever she can and is well known and well loved in our community. Our family spends Eid together, goes out to dinner together and even laughs together. We visit other families and other families visit us. None of us children are anti-social deviants; we all have friends and are active participants in society. We are all highly educated, having all graduated from college and some of us graduate school.

While outwardly we all seemed “normal”, as is typical of dysfunctional families, each on of us children had our “adapted roles”.  Mine was that of the lost child, the one who stayed out of trouble and was mostly overlooked and ignored.  Unlike my siblings who rebelled in their own ways and at different times of their lives, I remained a “straight-edge” Muslim.  I never drank, smoked, did drugs, had friends of the opposite gender or premarital relationships.  I earned good grades, never hung out with “the wrong crowd and, even if I argued it, I never stayed out past my curfew. As hard as I tried to be good, I was never good enough.

My parents treated me differently based on their moods. My father’s emotions vacillated between extreme highs (happiness, giddiness, etc) and extreme lows (seclusion, aggression, verbal abuse). He was never big on words of love or kindness, and the primary way he supported us was financially. He never really talked to us except to blame us for something or to insult us. When he was in a jovial mood, he would smile, sing and encouraged me to smile and be happy. To show how fluctuating his mood was, one time he hit me so hard and so many times with a slipper, it broke. Almost immediately after this, he joked that I would now have to buy him a new one. There were at least three times that his violence left marks on my face, leaving me to face the public with signs of his rage. If I was asked about what happened, I fabricated something about hurting myself. My mother scared me that from ever telling the truth, saying that the police would come arrest my father and take us away, creating a scandal in our family. I was also too ashamed to admit to anyone, even my closest friends, that my father physically abused me; I wanted to be a normal child with normal parents, not a victim to be pitied.

 

While my father was a raging bull, my mother was a wolf in sheep’s clothing, hiding her abuse amidst kindness and affection. She was the “savior” against my father and had a very generous, sweet and giving demeanor when she was in a proper mood. I will not deny that she did many wonderful things for me and in fact, when she was nice, it was great to be with her. But, in a Jekyll/Hyde or Bruce Banner/Hulk fashion, when she unleashed her anger, it was explosive rage. Although she never hit me, I was a figurative punching bag on which she used insults, humiliation and expressions of anger instead of kicks and punches.

Despite “keeping my nose clean”, my mother still found reasons to unleash her anger at me.  One day, after spending time with a known and trusted friend, I came home to hear my mother telling my father how I was trying to be rebellious like my siblings. It was between 10:30 and 11:00 pm, a time which I had come home before without any repercussions and for someone in their late 20’s, was not an “unGodly time” to come home at.  When she heard me coming, she burst out of the front door without her hijab on, screaming at me that I was no longer her child, disowning me until the Day of Judgment and that she would put this in writing and send it to several shuyukh.  She also locked the door and told my father not to let me in. Even if I was out doing evil things, I didn’t deserve that. No one does. Because this was my mother and because this behavior was common and accepted in our family and my parents’ culture, I didn’t see just how abnormal this was.  Actions like these were always excused with “She was mad because…” or “Well you shouldn’t/should have done…”.  I felt too hurt, hated and even partly responsible for her actions to be able to see how abusive she was.  I felt that if if somehow, if I had been a better child, she wouldn’t have done or said that.  I now see I could not control her behavior, only she could.

It was traumatic to see her behave in such a way and hurt to be the target of such horrible comments, and this is only one example of her pain-inducing words and actions. She teetered between kind and caring woman to a cruel and vicious woman. She would praise my siblings and I to her friends one minute and then say how she wished she would die so she wouldn’t see our faces again, that death was better for her than life with us. I couldn’t tell if she loved or hated me, if I was good or bad. I cannot explain to you the confusion or the pain that I went through, only that I am glad I finally see the truth for what it is.

Like other abusers, my parents wanted to exert their control over us. They yelled at me for being sad and for having individuality. Having autonomy was not allowed and success was simultaneously encouraged and deflated (sometimes by the same parent). My mother wanted us do to everything her way –  from how we looked, how we dressed, what majors we chose, who we married, even what we named our children – and criticized us incessantly when we didn’t follow.    My father tried to “straighten us out” through physical and verbal assaults when we spoke up for ourselves or didn’t do things exactly as he wanted.

Imams and shuyukh of Sunday school, Islamic lectures and Friday khutbahs told me constantly that parents deserved our utmost respect and unyielding obedience. And because they had heard the same lectures, my parents demanded this as well. It is a fact of life that children, more or less, emulate their parents’ behavior.  Thus, through their actions, my parents taught me how to be defiant, angry, hateful, spiteful, resentful, disrespectful and aggressive, and simultaneously punished me for expressing these emotions and behaviors.  This created a tug of war in my head, between wishing that someone would say I had the right to be treated kindly and believing that I was being rightfully punished for being a bad child. No one ever spoke of children’s rights or obligations of parents, so it was the latter that always won.

The ill effects of abuse

Growing up with abusive parents took a heavy and serious toll on me. From my childhood and even until now, the abuse has affected me in several facets of my life, mentally, physically and spiritually. I suffered from low self-esteem and had problems in my health and relationships, even with Allah. The abuse has affected my family as well –  emotional problems, jealousy and spitefulness between siblings and emotionally incestuous relationships between parent and child developed – although they still choose to deny it.

Effects on…

…self-esteem and self-perception

 

In my ignorance and in response to the turmoil, I experienced extreme self-loathing and hated my life growing up. Parents are said to be a mirror of their children, and since my parents had plenty of negative things to say, I could only see myself as a terrible person. How could I love myself when my own parents, the people who brought me into this world and who were supposed to love me unconditionally, did not? Even if they told me they loved me (which they did not), they didn’t know how to show me they loved me. I felt hated as my father chased me in order to physically punish me and pointed out all my faults. My mother told me often how I was just like my father, whom I knew she carried a great disdain for. She grouped us both along with one of my siblings in the “bad guys” category. I felt there was something truly wrong with me, that I was just an awful person who didn’t deserve to be loved. I wanted to disappear from the world thinking that maybe, just maybe, if I was gone, someone would miss me and want me back…then I would finally feel loved and wanted. I felt like a burden on my family who would be better off without me. I hated being me which anyone reading this might understand how that could be. Only Allah heard me as I apologized for being such a bad child.

 

…relationship with the family

 

I wanted Allah to love me, I wanted to obey Him by being kind to and obeying my parents. Despite the fact that my father physically and verbally abused me, I still tried to be good to him. But, thanks in part to my mother’s comments about him, at some point in my life, my innocent childish love for my father changed to hate. I despised every single thing about him – how he ate, how he walked, how he talked. I hated that he still asked for and expected hugs and kisses from me even after the mean things he said and did to me. My mother perpetuated this idea in the way she fought with him; it always looked like he was the aggressor and she the victim.

 

The well-known hadith that one’s mother is more deserving of love and respect than one’s father encouraged me to put all my energy into loving and obeying her as best I could. Because she was the one who comforted me after my father attacked me and defended me against him, standing up for me, she was the only source of comfort for me. Thus, I attached myself in an unhealthy manner to her and we became enmeshed; when she was happy I was happy and when she was mad or sad, I couldn’t have a good time. I tried with all my power to make her happy and to make her pleased with me. It was because of this intense codependency that I have such a challenge in healing from her infliction; I gave her my all and she rejected, depreciated and destroyed it.

 

The dysfunction permeated beyond our parents’ relationships with each other or with me. My siblings and I have an uneasy relationship with each other that is affected, one way or another, by one or both parents. For example, one sibling cut ties with the other because of issues the other had with our mother. Another still believes our father to be a good father and pushes me to do things such as wish him a happy birthday or take him out for Father’s Day. One sibling and I butted heads because they labeled me the abuser, claiming my mother’s harshness and nonacceptance of my good deeds was in response to my antagonism.

 

…relationship with Allah

 

Because our relationship was borne out of blood and mentioned several times in the Quran, one of the favorite weapons that my mother used to validate her stance was religion. Similar to how abusive men misuse verses from the Quran, my mother misused the verses regarding treatment of parents, telling me how Allah would punish me and that if she were to die displeased with me I would be damned to Hell for all eternity. I was told several times that I had no iman in my heart, that I only do things out of fear of Allah’s punishment and that if I were a true mu’min, I would not be so rude with my parents. When bad things would happen to me, she told me that Allah was angry with me and punished me for what I had done. I believed it.

While we all doubt whether we are good enough in the sight of Allah, whether our deeds will be accepted or whether we are sincere, my mother spiritually abused me so intensely that I doubted if Allah even loved me. I thought “How could Allah love someone like me, someone who was so insolent and hated by their parents?” I asked Allah to forgive me for being such an insolent person and for being so bad to my parents. Today, I acknowledge that this was projection of her own feelings of herself, but the pain of hearing that come from my mother was extreme.

 

…relationship with the community

 

The shame and guilt I felt affected not only my relationship with myself and my Lord, but how I was with the community. For one, I felt as if I was wearing a scarlet letter “V” for being a victim of domestic violence. Although no one knew, I felt I was different and that no one would understand what I was going through. Other people had seemingly good relationships with their parents and had parents who were apparently loving and kind. I did not know for sure if this was true, but no one talked about it and neither did I. I felt isolated in my community. I didn’t have anyone to talk to and didn’t know if anyone cared or would even believe me about what was going on in my house if I told them. With my parents being such upstanding members of the community, it would be hard to convince someone that they were actually unkind and unfit parents.

 

Another issue was the hypocrisy I felt. I was an outwardly practicing Muslim who went to MSA meetings, and treated people with as much kindness as I could. People enjoyed my company and liked me. But as I looked into the mirror that was my parents’ eyes, I believed this was only because no one, except my parents, knew the real me. In fact, my mother told me that I was so nice to the people outside my house while being so ill-mannered to those in my home. At the time, I didn’t believe she would say something that wasn’t true, especially something so hurtful. Like most children, I thought the best of her and the worst of myself and with the community loving her as well, I took her guilty verdict to heart.

 

…on marriage

 

As abused children grow older, they too may choose to marry and have children of their own. No one will deny that when you marry someone, you marry their family. When you marry their family, you also marry their problems and toxicity. When these issues are not addressed or acknowledged, they cannot be resolved. They seep into the core of the marriage, into the hearts of the individuals. It affects how they deal with each other and ultimately how they deal with their children. People joke about the “evil in-laws” and make the same comments about treating them with kindness, respect and humility. When the in-laws are abusive and have a skewed view of reality, it is no joke.

 

To avoid disclosing any identifiable details, I will not speak of my own or my siblings’ marriages, but will instead refer to a couple that I know who live in an abusive home. The mother/mother-in-law behaves in a similar fashion to my mother, leading me to believe that she also has a mental illness. The husband (her son) believes that to be a good son, he must do anything and everything in his power to please his mother, even though nothing he ever does is good enough in her eyes. She, too, uses Islam’s emphasis on serving parents as a means to get her way. She speaks nastily to both her son and daughter-in-law, both of whom feel the detrimental effects of living with an unstable and abusive person. Both are victims of abuse and do their utmost to please their perpetrator. For example, after a day of cleaning the house in hopes of pleasing her, she made a comment about how dirty the TV was, saying how she would never have kept her house in this shape.  Even though the wife recognizes the abusive behavior of her mother-in-law, she does not know what to do or how to act. Her husband believes his mother needs to be obeyed and feels powerless to say or do anything to stand up for himself or his family. There are young children in this marriage who will, unless something changes, grow up seeing their parents treated harshly and possibly be treated in a similar manner themselves.

 

43 / View Comments

43 responses to “Unspoken for: The Unheard Victims of Domestic Violence Part 1”

  1. Umm Sulaim says:

    Allah Akbar.

    I was wondering whether MM would not publish an article on the psychological effects of domestic abuse on children.

    These are the same children women claim they remain in such an abusive relationship for.

    Children do suffer the consequence of decisions made by their parents.

    And if the child becomes confident enough, he/ she will ask the parent-victim the same question I asked on another post that some people wanted my head for:

    “Why did you remain in that marriage when you knew things were going wrong?”

    Umm Sulaim

    • Hira says:

      “Why did you remain in that marriage when you knew things were going wrong?”

      Because then my children would be taken away from me, and I don’t have enough money to get lawyers who would get me custody.

      • Umm Sulaim says:

        Your decision, valid or not, has an enormous impact on your children who alone are in the best position to determine the accuracy of your choice. That is precisely my point.

        If – or when – they are adults, bring up the discussion with them and hear what they have to say about that decision of yours.

        Of course, I’m sure you do not expect them to disagree with you, if they are in any way blackmailed emotionally or threatened with ‘hell-fire for displeasing their mother’. So, no blackmail and no threats.

        Umm Sulaim

      • BintMahmoud says:

        Is there no other solution? At the domestic violence event I attended, they emphasized calling the domestic violence hotline (800-799-7233) to report ANY violations that the spouse does. Then, when you need to go to court for whatever reason, there is evidence. You can also ask if there are lawyers in your area willing to work pro bono to get you custody. May Allah help you.

        The important thing is to do what you can to protect your children and yourself. As one person told me, she didn’t want to live in a marriage that she didn’t want for her daughters. And if her daughters grew up seeing her in that situation, they would think it was ok to marry someone like that.

        • Hira says:

          Alhamdulillah, my situation isn’t that bad. My husband doesn’t allow me to work or to exit the house without him, leading to my being very frustrated inside the house. I asked our Imam, and he said that my husband has the right to ask me to remain at home, although my husband should allow me to go out more often (which he allowed a few times while watching me like a hawk). If I were to ask westerners, they would say nothing is stopping me from going out since my husband isn’t physically preventing me, it is my own religious beliefs.

          I am not abused. But I hate my marriage, and I very much dislike my husband. But I know if I leave, my children will end up with their emotionally unavailable father, and then left in the hands of babysitters (he already told me the circumstances the children would live in if I were to leave him. I don’t know if he’s trying to guilt me into staying or if he genuinely doesn’t see any harm in neglecting them.)

          Still, I’ve spent a few years trying to talk to him, and I think I myself am becoming an emotionally drained mother, so maybe the kids would not suffer from my absence. And if they do, then maybe it is best for me to leave them in the care of Allah and look after myself.

          Then perhaps come back in ten years and ask them if I made the right decision. So far, no one, not even my parents, think it is right for me to leave. Everyone tells me to just “be patient”. But I’m at the end of my rope.

          • Umm Sulaim says:

            I apologise as you have misunderstood me. I did not mean leave your children behind. I, in no way, intended you were a bad mother. I meant why are your options limited to staying.

            If you have to leave, then that should be with your children in tow.

            I have deliberately not presented any viable options for, for instance, gaining custody of your children, as you alone have to take responsibility for DECIDING TO LEAVE. Women are notorious for blaming others for ‘badly advising them’.

            Although I am proud to be controversial, being accused of rendering bad advice is definitely out.

            Take care of yourself and your children,
            Umm Sulaim

  2. BintKhalil says:

    Assalamu alaikum

    It is unbelievable how some cultures abuse the rights that have been given to parents in Islam. Shuyukh need to start prioritizing the rights of children as a topic for khutbahs. Also, whenever a khutbah about the rights of parents is given, it needs to include the duties that came with those rights and how they will be held responsible for not upholding those rights.

    As for the last paragraph – that, to me, was the most painful paragraph to read – you would think that once an abused child becomes an adult he might have a chance at a normal life but, again, it is the right of the parents – to be looked after in their old age – that comes back to tie a noose around the child’s neck.

    If the anon who wrote this piece reads this, please note that my du’as are with you.

  3. umm abdullah says:

    Assalamualaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh

    SubhanAllah! This is unbelievable! Allahul Musta’an!

    SubhanAllah, may Allah protect us from using religion to serve our whims and desires! seriously how bad it is to use Allah’s deen to oppress and hurt others!!

    I have come across cases where the son obeys the abusive mother/father no matter what the demand is and asks his wife also to obey them even if what they are demanding to do is too much. The wife feels lonely and sad if the husband does not stand up to defend her when she is abused by his family members (because he feels he has no right).

    Can shuyukh please talk about this crisis?! Thus a very important question is how do we draw a line between obedience and circling in an abusive cycle?

    I hope and pray the one who wrote this and went through this abuse will have her heart healed by the One Who is Most Kind and grant her happiness in this world and the next. Ameen Ya Rabb!

  4. A hair-raising article, speaking as a parent. :(
    I ask Allah to guide all parents to fear Allah and fulfill the due rights of their children, and to wipe out the ill-effects of abuse from the lives and psyches of those who have been abused, either as spouses or children. Ameen.

  5. umm abdullah says:

    I appreciate these hadith alot more now

    Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “I was sent to perfect good character.”

    This one is a very important hadith:

    Muslim narrated from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) said:
    “Do you know who is the one who is bankrupt?” They said, ‘The bankrupt is the one who has no money and no possessions.’ He said, ‘Among my Ummah, the one who is bankrupt is the one who will come on the Day of Resurrection with prayer and fasting and Zakah (to his credit), but he will come having insulted this one, slandered that one, consumed the wealth of this one and shed the blood of that one, and beaten that one. So they will all be given some of his hasanaat, and when his hasanaat run out, before judgment is passed, some of their sins will be taken and cast onto him, then he will be cast into the Fire.'” (Muslim: 4/1998, Hadith no. 2581)

    • ivoryTower says:

      Quoting ahadith left and right is not a solution to these problems. To understand and appreciate ahadith one needs to be mentally normal. You cannot expect mentally ill people to change their behavior by reading ahadith or listening to lectures. That is why our ‘imams’ fail to address these problems in our communities because they are not trained on how to do so – relying instead only on sermonizing .

    • Sajeena says:

      Alhamdulillah, very soothing to read the hadeeth

  6. Zamzam says:

    O Allah! Guide us to what pleases You. O Allah! Show us the faults of ourselves, and help us to amend them.
    Undoubtedly, abusiveness has negative effects on its victims. Expressing the negative feelings is the first step in treating the wounds of abusiveness. How many steps are needed to treat them varies according to the condition of the abused person, but the main step that mustn’t be underestimated is building firm relationship with Allah.
    Dear anonym,
    Seek Islamic knowledge. Learn aqeedah. Understand the meanings of the names and attributes of Allah. Knock the door of the generous, Allah. Pray night prayer, and ask Allah to heal your wounds, and guide you. He never turns down the prayers of those who seek His help.
    The more you get close to Allah, the more you will understand that what Allah chooses for you is the best thing. Worldly life is a journey, and will come to an end.

  7. Hala says:

    Is there anything a grown child of abusive parents can do in these situations? Is there any way that they can be emancipated from their parents for example, particularly when the abuse is verbal or emotional, but never physical?

    • SabrunJameel says:

      It’s blood tight, and unfortunetly this solution can be worse than the problem. Making plenty of dua and having Sabr are important. These are tests and the struggle is controlling what we have control over; ourselves.Wallahu ma’a Sabireen

  8. Ahmed says:

    Jazakallahukhair for the this article, very deep indeed.

    Something to keep in mind, it is easy to defer these issues with a “o this is so important, our imams should do something about this” but in reality that is almost an impossible task.

    Point being, community members need to work WITH the imams to handle different facets of community needs; relationship counselling, drug abuse, education etc. Of course they are not qualified to address ALL these issues because they’ve never trained in it, so other community leaders cover these areas.

    • ivoryTower says:

      In many communities, the imams themselves are abusive towards families and students.
      When are we going to understand that these issues do not have their origin/solution in religion, or how practicing/ devout a person is. Christians, Jews, Muslims, & Hindus all have their fair share of abusers as well as loving & caring parents. Like any other psychological condition, the solution requires diagnosis, therapy, and treatment over a long period.

      I really don’t undertand why we have to bring Islam and ‘Imams’ into everything. You don’t go to your imam when you have a cold, why do you go to your imam when you suffer from a mental/psychological condition? I just don’t get it.

  9. abu takfir says:

    Is this a joke? The anonymous person did not talk about the flaws in her/his own character, only parents’. Also, it is biased as we have not gotten parents’ perspective.

  10. abu takfir says:

    * The perspective of the raging bull and the wolf in sheep’s clothing who gave rise to a bull-wolf hybrid progeny.

    • Saqib says:

      Abu Takfir – do not be one of those people who deny all that is unpalatable and turn the victim into the villain. Co-dependency is a very real issue and until recently, I didn’t even know the name for it. Hypocritical parents who damage their children while professing to be people of god are ten a penny. We need to highlight this behaviour and make people recognise that alongside the necessary dose of discipline, there needs to be heavier doses of emotional security and love to raise a child in Islam.

      Park you cynicism for a while and come to this with an open mind, not a mocking one.

      • abu takfir says:

        I am all for ethical and Islamic parenting. But do not you think calling one’s parents a raging bull and a wolf in sheep’s clothing say a lot about the child? The child apparently did not think about the fact that if the dad is a raging bull and mother a wolf, the child is probably worse: a bull-wolf.

        • melaika says:

          Although there is so much I can say about this article because it felt like I was reading my own life, subhanAllah.. anonymous I pray that you stay strong and thank you for having such courage to talk about such a sensitive issue..

          but to Abu Takfir’s comments, all I have to say is this:

          this is exactly WHY this person called his/her parents such…because of the fear of saying elsewhere either written or verbalized. That fear permeated their psyche so much so that finally they had a means to say what they feel and all you can point out is that very thing, Goes to show the deep nature of this problem.. May Allah az-zawajjal open your eyes, heart, and mind to this very real and ongoing problem, and May Allah az-zajjal bless us with a loving spouse and household so that our children will be raised in an environment full of love, care and the rahma of Our Creator

          Ameen!

        • Saqib says:

          Abu Takfir – The child is a product of parenting that was highly dysfunctional, so why do you still maintain focus on the symptoms over the cause.

          Agree with Serena below that parents ought to make sure they are emotionally mature enough to have children and by raising this all too common topic, more education needs to be given to potential parents to ensure they are not maligned by co-dependency before setting out to have children of their own and passing on the damage from it.

          Come at this from a perspective of rahma that the author is not currently fully able to, I’m sure the parents did not want to be like this, nor that the author wanedt to feel this way about her parents. Pray for them and try and understand, you don’t have to condone, but then neither do you have to condemn or seek to.

        • Sebkha says:

          Ah, less than 20 comments in and there’s already some degenerate dishing out some good old-fashioned victim blaming. What a completely revolting response to the horrors that have been inflicted on the writer of this article. Not only has their trust been violated by their parents, but then they get dumped on here too, a place they thought would be safe, compassionate, and caring about their plight. I can’t even begin to comprehend how soul crushing it would be to have to cope with parents who violated one of the most sacred trusts and gifts Allah (swt) bestows on His creation, that of parenthood. And then to be told on top of that, that they’re then worse than their abusers for even writing about their plight in the first place? I just don’t get this at all.

          • Saqib says:

            Sebkha – lets try and give abu takfir the benefit of doubt that he did not give the author, the more we attack others, the more we get defensiveness in return. If instead we respond with reason and understanding in measured tones, perhaps others might be more open to an alternate view.

            I know it’s disappointing but most parents (much like mine) are not even aware they are doing this, far from rebelling, the most powerful thing we can do is bring this to their attention and be ambivalent to the responding attacks. We truly gain power when the abusers see that we can no longer be so wounded by their venom.

          • abu takfir says:

            Oh right, reasoning is now called “victim blaming.” How do we define who is a victim? The moment you attribute the term “victim” to someone, any legit and reasonable criticism of the actions of that victim is taking as “victim blaming,” so why not let me ask you what objective criteria you have to define who a victim is? Did Allah swt reveal any objective criteria to you to define who a victim is? Or do you follow Human Rights Charter?

            If I play the victim game then I consider myself a victim too, a victim of life, being able to exist and breathe is itself suffering. I did not ask to be born. Yet I do not whine, and continue on with the daily struggle that is life.

            Why does it matter if the parents of this “victim” were abusive? It would have been great that if they were loving parents but they are not, so why does the author dwell on it rather than moving on with his/her life? Why does the author demand, as if it was their God-given right, to enjoy loving parents? It was not. The author cannot control the thinking process and behaviors of his/her parents. It is unfortunate that the author was born to parents who did not possess a “loving” behavior, at terms with what the author desires, but that does not mean parents are to be blamed. Parents are free individuals who must be respect, regardless of their loving or non-loving behaviors, just like how the author would like to be respected.

            That being said, I am against physical abuse. Psychological abuse (excepting bullying or swearing) does not exist in my dictionary.

            I have nothing more to say.

            There is no rahma in nature, we are products of an evil and hellish process called evolution. Nature never showed us rehma, why are we expected to show it?

        • Sajeena says:

          :) Agree

          • bint Abbas says:

            The author has presumably suffered in this situation for many years and unfortunately the bitterness/ resentfulness has permeated into the language used to describe his/her parents. May Allah SWT forgive the author this transgression in light of the past.

            However, one cannot deny that the author’s circumstances are tragic nor should we make light of his/her suffering. The incidents described by the author clearly qualify as physical abuse (beaten until the shoe was broken), verbal abuse (you have no iman in your heart, you are not a true momin) and emotional abandonment (preference given to other siblings and making them jealous of each other).

            Abusive parenting signals to a child and abuse is acceptable. This same child may inflict this abuse on another and think nothing of it. One the due rights of a child is have practicing Muslims as his/her parents. How can one instill the moral standards of Islam in their children if one is committing acts that are against the very spirit of Islam? Prophet SAW was sent to our world to perfect character and this is exactly what parents must do for their children. In addition to being a practicing Muslim in an outwardly sense, parents must embody Islamic ideals in their character as well.

            Side note: Removing a stone from the road is sadqah but it might not occur to you perform that act if your heart has no mercy. If Islam precluded rahma, then Allah SWT would not have forbidden the burying of female children. If the Prophet SAW was devoid or rahma, we would not hear of his stories of love and playfulness with his grandchildren – Sayyidunah Hasan and Husain RAA, nor would he encourage Rahma. Nor would this hadith exist:
            Abu Salmah narrated that Abu Hurayrah said, “The Prophet of Allah (peace be upon him) kissed Hasan ibn ‘Ali (his grandson) while Aqra’ ibn Habis was sitting nearby. Aqra’ said, ‘I have ten children and have never kissed one of them.’ The Prophet (peace be upon him) looked at him and said, ‘Those who show no mercy will be shown no mercy.’” (Bukhari, Volume No. 91, and Muslim)

            May Allah SWT forgive us all our sins and transgressions against each other and me we all forgive our offenders to that Allah SWT may forgive us. May Allah SWT help the author find peace inshaAllah.

          • fatima says:

            Why does it matter if the parents of this “victim” were abusive? It would have been great that if they were loving parents but they are not, so why does the author dwell on it rather than moving on with his/her life? Why does the author demand, as if it was their God-given right, to enjoy loving parents? It was not. The author cannot control the thinking process and behaviors of his/her parents. It is unfortunate that the author was born to parents who did not possess a “loving” behavior, at terms with what the author desires, but that does not mean parents are to be blamed. Parents are free individuals who must be respect, regardless of their loving or non-loving behaviors, just like how the author would like to be respected.

            the MOST STUPID,UNFEELING AND RIDICULOUSLY UNREAL para I have read in a really,really long time.Yes,parents are indeed to be respected NO MATTER WHAT but their behaviour IS NOT TO BE CONDONED no matter what.Parents are human beings and unfortunately they can BE wrong.And I think its unislamic children who do not respectfully point out the faults of parents and therefore aid in the development of tyrants in their homes.

            If my mother were to be abusive towards say my sister in law,and I look on,I am sure I would be questioned on the Day as to why didn’t I step forward and stop the abuse.
            Serioulsy,I am still reeling from the effect of your unfeeling statements.

          • Saeed says:

            parents are indeed to be respected NO MATTER WHAT but their behaviour IS NOT TO BE CONDONED no matter what

            This is a very true statement which some parents unfortunately dont understand. For them respect is the same as agreeing to all of their actions so even if they do something wrong, the child mentioning it is wrong is the same as disrespect.
            On a similar vein, even if one disagress with parents, they cannot express their displeasure the same way as they would with a sibling or a friend, parents deserve our respect no matter what they do..

    • A. Stranger says:

      The beautiful thing is, regardless of how the child is, the parents’ innate nature is to love and cherish them. So even if the child was rebellious, evil, disobedient, whatever. It doesn’t call for such reaction from the parents.

      Even in Islam emphasis is made on the child obeying the parent, the child respecting the parent and so on. Scholars have commented, that this reminders are only because we, as children, need to be reminded to show righteousness to our parents. Parents have not had such strong emphasis (except in several contexts) why? because it is in their nature to be merciful to their children.

      And the parents that abuse, do so because they have deviated from their natural disposition. Whether it is through some mental illness or otherwise.

      In most cases, you find the parent loving the child regardless of how much hurt and pain the child causes the parent.

      And what our dear author mentioned is the sad reality of how people who have a severe detachment from reality react. They abuse their own children and partners.

      People need to realise that it is high time, that they spend hours and days and months (whatever it takes!) to prepare for being a spouse and parent – through Islamic teachings and through the conventional counselling methods. So much money is spent for having luxurious weddings, but barely anything is invested in learning how to be a good spouse or a parent.

      I pray that my brother/sister you find peace and happiness and contentment.

  11. Serena says:

    that’s really sad, but I think the take home msg should be in this article is for the Parents, don’t have kids if you’re not ready to have them because having them is a blessing,and siblings should really stick together because no one can understand the situation at home better than the siblings.(even though unfortunately, your siblings were not supportive) and i personally think there is no solution for these type of situations except that to be patient and ask Allah(swt) to grant you strength and give you guidance.

    May Allah(swt) grant you strength. Ameen

  12. AnonyMouse says:

    An absolutely heart-breaking article, and one which I wish could be shared more widely.

    What many of us do not remember is that in Islam, the extent to which one has a right over someone else is up until the point that we begin to oppress them.

    Just as a man who claims that he has the right of “qawwaam” over his sister/wife/daughter as an excuse to abuse them is wrong in doing so, so too must parents recognize that they not only have rights over their children, but rights towards their children – and that power and control that they exercise will be monitored, judged, and punished by Allah if they misuse it.

    Being very close with someone who grew up in a dysfunctional home, I can see first-hand how emotionally scarred and torn these children feel and how their distress increases as they grow older, get married, and have their own family.
    It is incredibly painful to feel natural love for your parents, and to want to please them, but at the same time made to feel that if you don’t do x, y, and z (which are completely unreasonable/ wrong/ harmful to yourself and your family), that you will end up being punished by Allah – when the truth is that He knows your pure intentions to please Him and your parents, and that He will hold those abusive parents accountable.

    Islam grants everyone, man and woman, husband and wife, parent and child, their rights over others, and towards others.
    It is our duty and responsibility to be aware of that, and to be aware of the incredible dangers of oppressing anyone around us – especially those over whom we hold some kind of power.

  13. Anne says:

    http://www.lfcc.on.ca/little_eyes_little_ears.html

    Above is a link to an article called “Little eyes, little ears” about the effect of parental abuse on children. The reality of abuse is often the abuser was abused themselves, but ultimately chooses to continue the cycle. Many of us think these people have no control over their behavior but did the parents in the article above go out into the community and act in that caustic manner? No. They did it at home in front of and towards their children. The author will now have to be so aware in entering a relationship that she doesnt marry someone like her father – who will treat her harshly, render her depressed, and then she may well lash out at her little ones and on and on it goes.

    I beseech all people living with anger and violence to seek support, even if you have to do it little by little. To extracate yourselves from an abusive situation will likely take time, unless your life is at immediate risk then please just go. It is ok to get help from the outside (people you run across in your day to day like your child’s doctor,your doctor, the WIC office, whatever) if you are unable to seek help from the Mosque or community members. Each little piece in place will give you more and more strength to eventually leave- which is ultimately better for your children too. Even if you live on less and struggle, violence free is the way to go.

    And while I appreciate those who quote religious text with the intent of comforting, I can assure you our Muslim sisters need more than that. For every sister trying to seek help from the community who was told to be patient, to make dua, to read Qu’ran – it never resolved their abusive partner(in my experience). A Muslim woman (or man) should never feel “alone” in a community of co-religionists because that community should BE THERE for them – not conditionally, it should be there. Example, a woman comes and says I want a divorce – my husband is mean – maybe you could let her have that divorce, offer financial support to get on her feet and not go about talking about her with everyone at the Mosque. You dont have to be on one side or the other, merely recognize her right to leave and give her the leg up. The courts can deal with custodial issues and what not. Our women and men shouldn’t have to be left out in the cold to rely solely on outside help in these situations.

    Thanks MM for pushing this subject.

    • Umm Sulaim says:

      I agree with you; just one more point needed.

      Sometimes people tell a woman that the marriage can work out. That doesn’t mean she has to believe it, after all she knows where and how much the actions of her spouse hurts her.

      I was told a lot of things, all of which I rejected. But the brothers never turned down my pleas for financial assistance, otherwise I really can’t imagine how I would have survived in the last month of my marriage and during my iddah. Ironically, the same brothers still send me funds on request 9 YEARS later.

      So, instead of playing Ms Congeniality, a woman needs to be selective in her interactions and contacts to reduce the possibility of being ditched by the ‘zillions of friends’ she surrounds herself with at the moment of crisis.

      Umm Sulaim

  14. […] Violence Series: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 Tagged as: domestic abuse, domestic violence, Haleh Banani, Islam, Islamic […]

  15. Abdulmujeeb says:

    @ Anne, U hit the nail on the head. ‘Muslim sisters need more than that. For every sister trying to seek help from the community who was told to be patient, to make dua, to read Qu’ran – it never resolved their abusive partner(in my experience). ‘. It is time for us to balnce the equation. let’s all remember our OBLIGATIONS more than our RIGHTS because in doing our OBLIGATIONS we’re fulfilling someone’s RIGHT.

    • Sam says:

      And let us never forget that we have obligations towards ourselves as well, and sometimes,putting ourselves first is not a matter of being selfish, it is a matter of obligation.

  16. Abu Youssef says:

    Assalam aleikum, abuse is an insidious thing to say the least. I was raised by parents who did a lot of yelling and fighting and often times ridiculing. I have very specific memories of things my parents have done to me in the past and when I talk to them about it, they deny it, don’t remember it, you name it.
    I have essentially cut myself off from my family and for years and years I didn’t understand why. All I knew is they made me feel horrible about myself constantly. When I became muslim, I tried very hard to be obedient and loving but I just couldn’t bring myself to be near them. The fact they’re kuffar makes it worse. I didn’t really understand what was wrong with me until I got married. My wife heard how my parents spoke to me and about me, listened to the stories I told and was beyond shocked. She told me flat out that I was abused.
    My parents did do a lot of good things for me, but for whatever reason, it was the bas that stuck with me and affected me the most. For example, I was 13 or so when I took an all first aid course. The course was an activity for my scout group and so I mostly didn;t pay attention and kidded around. Well, I failed, pretty badly as you might expect. What you may not expect is the response my mother, who is a nurse, gave me. She said “I have never been so embarassed in my life” and said it loudly, in front a great deal of other parents. My parents came to visit my wife and I when our first child was born. We had a get together at my in laws and my mother dominated the conversation of course, at one point leaning over to my mother in law and saying ‘Gee, I hope my grandson doesn’t have the same skin condition my son does”(I have excema)
    Abuse is so insidious that you don; even realize it’s being done a lot of times. What’s worse is, it affects you without you even knowing it is. I have caught myself doing the same stuff my parents did to my wife and my kids and I hate it. Abuse affects so many and is truly evil.

    • Abu Takfir says:

      With no offense, you seem to be a “sensitive man.” Maybe overly sensitive. Joking around in a first aid course is indeed childish and bad. And your mother, being a nurse herself, probably had huge expectations from you. So maybe in fit of being heart broken, after you failed her, she told you that “she is truly embarrassed from your joking around and failing the first aid course.” She could have said it in isolation but I guess the shock was so huge that she could not tolerate it.

      If she is to be blamed, you are to be blamed as much for failing the first aid course.

  17. […] Unspoken for: The Unheard Victims of Domestic Violence  Part 1 […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *