Sa’idah A. As-Sudani, DVS
“O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under a trust from God and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.”
Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) in his last known sermon.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of on-going hurtful, manipulative or controlling activities, including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and verbal abuse.
Domestic violence is abuse by a caregiver, parent, spouse or intimate partner, extended family members and even fiancees; it can also take many different forms.
- Occurs in all socio-economic groups, all religious groups, all races, and all ethnic groups and within heterosexual, lesbian and gay relationships, to people of all ages and physical abilities. Anyone can be affected by it.
- Is perpetrated against women in 95% of cases.
- Is the single greatest cause of injury to women in this country.
- Is rarely a one-off event and usually presents as an ongoing system.
There are also many different forms of abuse, physical attack is only one of them, the ability to recognize the various forms that domestic violence comes in can enable you to help someone who may not even realize that he or she is the target of abuse.
Here are some types of abuse with brief definitions:
- Physical abuse is the use of physical force, what we generally percieve when we hear domestic abuse because this can be seen.
- Sexual abuse means any forced sexual activity. Just because two people are married to each other does not mean that one can force the other into sex.
- Emotional abuse includes threats, constant criticism and put-downs. This is often the most difficult to determine since it is only done openly once the abuse has been going on for so long that it has become normalized. Many people suffering from this form of abuse do not even realize how it is harming them or how deeply the abuse has become.
- Controlling access to money and other objects or activities is also an abusive behavior.
- Religious abuse such as if your spouse or partner will not allow you to participate in religious activities at the Masjid or forces you to practice a religion differently from how you understand it. As Muslims we have to recognize that there is no coercion in matters of faith therefore anything relating to religion cannot be forced or prohibited.
- It is also being afraid of your partner or spouse. Sometimes an abuser will create an atmosphere of fear by posturing, tone, aggressive posturing or projection. If someone is afraid of going home, speaking about certain topics or doing certain activities; this may be a sign of this sort of abuse.
Signs of domestic abuse
- Does your partner accuse you of all manner of “crimes”? These may be anything from being accused of looking at other men/women when you’re out in public or gazing out the car window during a drive. It could be demands to know who you are talking to or texting and questioning you for talking too long on the phone. Jealousy is a trigger point for many attacks, be alert for signs of jealousy and possessiveness.
- Do you feel under threat of violence?
- Have you been on the receiving end of a violent attack?
- Do you have to account for time spent away from home?
- Does emotional or verbal abuse play a part in your relationship? For example, are you often on the receiving end of harsh statements or are you regularly made to feel guilty about something that you did or did not do?
Psychological abuse can at times be even more damaging than physical abuse. It can be something that whittles away at your self-esteem until you may even begin to believe that you are “stupid”, “useless” or that you “deserve it”. Attempts at retaliating may bring further violence: tears of frustration and helplessness are ridiculed and mocked by the abuser. If this is happening to you it may make it even more difficult to break away and do something about your situation. Loss of self-esteem and being made to believe you are “worthless” make it difficult to think about getting help. Does this sound familiar? You may also be on the receiving end of emotional blackmail if your partner threatens to kill him or herself or even harm the children if you leave. There are times your spouse may threaten to hide or take away your driver’s license, car keys, passport, and green card or report you to immigration officials in order to gain control.
Sometimes there is a warning that violence is imminent, and this may be triggered by alcohol or drug abuse. Other times an attack can occur without any warning whatsoever especially if the abuser is prone to imagined threats and crimes.
Women are not the only targets
Violence against women is only part of the problem as it is sometimes the woman who is violent towards her man. This is known as the hidden side of domestic violence because society has made it a comical situation for a man to be on the receiving end of abuse. Sadly this makes men far less likely to come forward and speak about it to try and get help. This humiliation, which accompanies the abuse, makes it just as hard for men to break free and seek help.One survey in the US discovered that where women have been accused of violence towards men it was not, as one might suppose, from self-defense but as an overreaction to men not paying attention or listening to them.
Facing the facts and dealing with reality
The Department of Justice reports that every 37.8 seconds somewhere in the USA a man is battered while every 15 seconds a woman is battered. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. These are frightening figures and should be a call toaction for anyone of conscience. The U.S. Department of Justice reported in the survey that women are more likely to be badly injured and to suffer repeated attacks than men; but domestic violence is a two-way street and not to be tolerated whichever way it goes. No one should live his or her day-to-day life in fear of another.
Often people wonder why people stay in an abusive relationship. The most common reason is because of financial restraints or fear of losing the children. It is easy for those outside of the relationship to say “get out” but often there is hope that “things will get better” or shame to admit to someone else that abuse is happening. Often there is a mistaken belief that love will conquer all, this usually covers up a reluctance to truly deal with the abuse and face all the changes that a challenge might bring about.
If there are children in a relationship this brings with it added worries. Research shows that when children witness their parents’ marital discord and fighting, this will affect them deeply and their emotional well-being will be harmed as they will become scarred by what they see and hear. Don’t be deceived into thinking that they do not notice, or will not be affected by it. Research has found that children who witness violence are significantly more likely to have problems in one or more of the areas of behavioral, physical, emotional, social and cognitive development than children who do not witness violence.
There is help available so don’t be afraid to look for it. There are people who will listen and help you to decide upon the best course of action. They will also provide some guidelines to assist you with your own safety, and that of your children. Be on guard even if you have already left your abusive partner as there may be aspects you still need help with from an outside source such as an abuse intervention service.
If any of this sounds familiar to your own experiences, or you suspect that you know someone who is being abused then don’t hesitate to seek help and protection now. Delaying to report the abuse or to seek help can lead to permenant injury or death of the abused individual as the abuse becomes more and more bold.
Violence in the home is a crime we are all becoming more aware of each year. In the US, the estimate of the number ranges from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former partner to four million each year. Domestic violence is also a worldwide problem, so please share this information with friends and family members around the world and seek out sources of help locally in those nations.
For help in breaking free of domestic abuse in the greater Charlotte, NC area you may call Baitul Hemayah, Inc., 704-562-4002 or 908-875-5558 and speak with Sa’idah A. As-Sudani. Men should speak with Bro. Abdellah As-Sudani at 908-414-2368.
ALL CALLS WILL BE KEPT CONFIDENTIAL.
Help and a way out is only a phone call away.
For More information and links to abuse help centers and services, see this article on our website at www.carolinamuslims.com
For more information on how you can get help for yourself or someone you love, please contact Baitul Hemayah [Embed Link to http://www.baitulhemayah.org/].
“Baitul Hemayah is an anti-domestic violence agency for domestic violence and abused women. We believe that Islam should never be used for abusive behavior or as an excuse to beat and/or coerce women; conversely, we believe that Islam should be used as a resource to prevent abuse and violence against women.”
Kiran, Inc is another organization which helps those in crisis with domestic violence and they are specialized in helping people of South Asian descent. Kiran is based in Raleigh, NC and can be reached via their Website
or via telephone at .
Please contact Carolina Muslims if you have information of other domestic violence organizations or individuals who are specialized in helping the Muslim community or are based in NC.