We see sisters anonymously writing posts on Facebook on marital issues, not just limited to the husband but extended to in-laws and children who mistreat our sisters, by our sisters, I mean you sis.
From sisters just simply requesting duas for husbands battling addiction to porn and drugs, to financial abuse or coercive control, we have heard it all in our communities.
These are just a few of the issues I have read in our Muslim Mamas Facebook group. I too, was once a sister posting in desperation because I couldn’t find the right doors to help me in my abusive marriage. I turned to this space anonymously once upon a moon ago, just like you.
I guess I turned to an online forum because I just needed clarity. Often in abusive situations thoughts of “I am not being patient enough” to “Marriage is hard” can take precedent over the very plain facts that actually abuse; whether financial, emotional, physical or spiritual is actually taking place. Sometimes you just need a few others to look at your situation and tell you as it is.
My ex husband and the father of my children had broken me down mentally, emotionally and physically. I often looked in the mirror unable to recognise parts of myself.
Nine years on and two kids later I am divorced, healing and protecting not just myself but my dear children. I am a single mother but not an abused one, not a neglected one and not one that is aiding oppression or accepting it.
I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
I also look in the mirror and I love many parts of myself whilst still battling a range of effects that the marriage left on me. The longer a woman stays in abuse, the longer the healing journey and the deeper the imprints are left upon your soul. If your soul is broken-leave sis and leave it to Allah.
Our children are observing everything we accept, tolerate and do. We model to them what to do if they were in this situation, especially for our daughters. How much would we want them to tolerate if they were in our shoes?
Children often don’t do what we say but do what we do and will subconsciously act things out. Behaviours will arise triggered by what they witnessed. Our daughters will potentially accept abusive partners because we showed and accepted this as love. Our sons may abuse their family in the same way because behaviours are learnt. They could grow to be the complete opposite, but one thing is for sure, they will witness your actions. Your are the adult in their life too who they look to to protect them. Are you keeping them safe mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically? I ask not to shame you but for you to consider those affected by your own tolerance of what is happening.
My ex was abusive, financially unstable and didn’t want to change that. I worked and spent my life’s savings on ‘us’. I worked through pregnancies and received little help in the home. I remember coming home with swollen feet and terrible morning sickness having to try and put meals together as he sat and watched tv. Sometimes if a man is not directly abusive he is neglectful and unkind.
I walked away eventually as I knew it would affect my children, it had started to feel like I was committing a sin for allowing his oppression upon me, upon us. He was bad tempered, threatening when angry, physically aggressive, lazy, deceitful and not to mention that he would spend money on drugs, would drink and was generally absent.
As I begin to share some things I have learned I want to caveat this with the most important part- Make dua. Make dua always, every day and believe that Allah will change your situation.
Here are a few things I learned when leaving an abusive marriage:
- We often say marriage is hard, it is and it needs to be worked on from both sides. Abuse however, doesn’t make a marriage hard, it makes it wrong. There is NOTHING in our deen that asks us to have sabr in this situation, it asks to have tawakkul and bravery to walk away from oppression. Abuse isn’t a test of sabr it’s a test of bravery, trust in Allah.
- We often associate a difficult or bad marriage because of our own selves, especially if you have been broken down in a marriage, this is where acceptance that your marriage has failed not because of you, but because of a man that trespassed himself and failed to follow the commandments of Allah and the example of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.
“Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.” The Last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad PBUH
- You may think you are staying together for the kids- what child wants their mother to be broken? Abused or neglected? Long term you are doing more damage than good to your children. I have spoken to children of abused homes, eventually they blame their mothers for not protecting them or they develop other challenges. (I also want to acknowledge and say that sis, I know you’re doing the best you can in this hardship for your children.)
- Self sacrifice doesn’t result in what you think it does, it results in losing yourself, your confidence, self esteem and respect. Self sacrifice leads to bitterness and resentment which are two things that begin to seep out of you and taint your very being. I know we often talk about sacrifice for the sake of Allah but this is different.
- Your husband is not your Allah.
Please read that again. Sometimes I read the posts and see that sisters are actively worshiping their husbands accidentally. He has become what you think about always, he is your thought at night and day, you fear him not Allah. You obey him over Allah. You are worshiping a man not God at this point.
- I know that my words sound direct, they aren’t meant to shame my love, they are meant to wake you up because enough is enough. Stop accepting abuse in any form. Abuse is wrong, it is not from the Quran or Sunnah.
- Study your deen. Too many of us learn our deen from men, please please learn the deen for yourselves. We are accountable to Allah for what we seek to learn. There is so much online to read and research now.
- Shame and what people say will not save you or your children. If you are still in your marriage because of this, you need to think if you pleasing Allah or people? Where are these people when you are being abused? When again for the tenth day in a row you are being called names and spoken to badly?
- Make a list of people you know that can help and if you have no one it’s time to network. Volunteer or get a part time job, speak to family who you trust or a friend. Begin somewhere sis.
- Prepare to leave: Have an exit plan. Start gathering information on entitlements, legal info, housing, work, training and rights. I’m not suggesting you leave tomorrow but if you need to, then it’s time to plan your exit carefully. It’s easy for others to say leave now but you need to be smart, prepare and start researching. Google has everything!
- If you are the friend/family member of someone in an abusive marriage, for the sake of Allah you need to speak up and explicitly say what they are accepting is wrong. They do not need to be told to be more patient. I have often told sisters categorically their husband is being financially abusive or emotionally abusive. You also have a responsibility.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Help your brother, whether he is an oppressor or he is an oppressed one. People asked, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! It is all right to help him if he is oppressed, but how should we help him if he is an oppressor?” The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “By preventing him from oppressing others.”
- The decision is yours and yours to make. No one is behind the closed doors with you. Sometimes we can seek all the advice but guidance will come from Allah through you. Trust yourself and believe in yourself. Believing your own story is so important.
Alhamdulilah I am ok financially, I work and provide for my children. They are growing older and used to ask why we weren’t married anymore, but now they are beginning to see his character. In time, I know they will understand why I chose to be a single mother. All I know, is when it got tough I made sure my intention to leave or stay was for the sake of Allah and Allah will always guide you to better. Everything you do, even calling someone like Women’s Aid is an act of Ibadah.
My ultimate advice would be to make dua. Allah can change the roads that you take next and absolutely change your fate, believe it. Allah wants you to ask. Allah is here for you every step of the way, he always was. Dua, Dua, Dua.
May Allah forgive me for any mistakes and any good is from Allah. I ask for your duas for me and my children.
Much love my sister, You deserve more, Allah loves you.