“..My husband started drinking then, and became an alcoholic and abuser. During that hard time, I then got pregnant with my son, and that was a tough time. We all have hard times. Financially, no money, no food, and I was pregnant. It was also a tough time. I was 19 or 20, with two kids, with no speaking English, I knew no one, no job, and an abusive husband.
In the daytime was two bottles of beer, and after that he would use heavy drink until midnight. He would come, beat me “why are you sleeping.”
Sometimes he kicked me out on a rainy day, with a baby in my lap. Spending the night in the stairs…” – narrated by interview
I have had an amazing opportunity to interview different Muslim women from various backgrounds, searching for the experience, wisdom, and knowledge they have from their rich and vibrant lives. As with many people, we all have hardships, trials, and tests that has been sent our way.
One such sister, who’s story you just read at the top, moved me greatly. Her story is a tragic one, no doubt. At the same time, she has also become a success story, learning about herself, growing in her faith, and now being willing to share her story with others, specifically a group of teenage girls where she was interviewed, of her advice on living a better life. She remarried, has a wonderful husband, and now is a mother of 4 children masha’Allah.
When looking to write a post about this subject, I found within her story an answer I wanted so much to convey, so without edit, here is her reply when she was asked what is one thing in life she regrets:
“When my ex-husband was abusing me, I asked myself. “why I didn’t get help, call the police, why I kept letting him abusing me?” I never called the police, I never told anybody. When he beat me up, my face got scratchy. No one could see me, I put on a lot of make-up, And the neighbors couldn’t see me. And I asked “why did I do that? Why didn’t I call the police, and put him in jail?”
That is my culture. Muslim culture is (should be) totally different. Listen to me. One day, you will be married. If your husband abuses you one time, don’t be quiet. First call the family, and tell them, your son is abusing me. If he doesn’t listen, call the police on them. That’s why I am always thinking “why is he abusing me a lot and I didn’t call the police?”
Culture is good, but don’t let it lead to abuse. In my culture, we were told “whatever your inlaws, your husband say, you don’t say nothing. Don’t talk back to them, you must respect them no matter what they do.” This is always what our parents told us….
No, this is wrong. I don’t want this for my daughter. This is not ok, you must stand up… ”
SubhanAllah. Many women will stay in an abusive marriage for years suffering because of culture. Their children watch and hear them get abused, if not getting abused themselves. The woman is a prisoner in her own home and she keeps handling this over and over again – and the question for everyone is why?
In the survey I did, the “why” gets answered.
No matter the why, though, this woman I interviewed desires so much to not let anyone else go through years of abuse for a false notion of honor in the eyes of people. There are many factors that contribute to the difficulty of leaving an abusive marriage, and cultural expectations is one of them in the Muslim community.
(We will discuss others in future post insha’Allah)
1) If you or someone you know is being abused, speak to someone you can trust. Find a close friend, an imam, a therapist, or someone in your family.
2) Remember: you can call the police – but they cannot help you if you don’t help yourself. No matter who someone is, if they are physically harming you or your children, its a crime, its illegal, and its haram, but you hold the power in your hands and voice as to whether it continues or not.
3) Never look down upon yourself. We all go through tests and tribulations, but you are still important to Allah, special, and belong to Him. Allah is always there for you, turn to Him, seek His support, and remember the famous hadith “Tie your camel and trust in Allah.” There is always an action to be taken on your side too.
4) Allow Islam to guide your decisions, and not culture alone.
(coming up insha’Allah – how children, finances, beliefs, and emotions hold women back from leaving an abusive relationship)