Am I a Victim?
It isn’t always easy to acknowledge that one is involved in abusive relationship.
There are many reasons a victim may not be able to see how serious their situation
has become. We list some of these on our section about why victims stay.
Everyone in the household is affected by intimate partner violence. Survivors of
relationship violence, male or female, young or old, will live as survivors for
the rest of their lives. The psychological wounds they carry will be present in
all of their future relationships, and influence their ability to trust and connect
with those that care about them. Abuse and sexual assault are experiences that cannot
be erased from life. They affect victims, abusers and family
members directly; and the whole community indirectly.
On this page, we discuss
Signs that you are a victim of abuse.
Abuse is unacceptable no matter what behavior provoked it, and so often occurs in
ways that are not as obvious as a physical blow. We have listed some signs of a
victim below to help you better assess your situation, as well as understand the
subtleties that can be abuse.
- Constantly cancel plans with friends or other family for reasons that don’t
- Always worry about making your spouse angry?
- Give up things that were previously important to you?
- Show signs of physical abuse, like bruises or cuts?
- Get pressured into having sex, or feel like a sex object?
- Feel you must be available all the time for your spouse?
- Become isolated from friends or family?
These are some of the signs of a victim. When they are present, a cycle of abuse
that characterizes an Unhealthy Relationship is often also present.
If you recognize these symptoms for yourself or for your partner, for the sake of
Allah and that of your family and your own well being, seek refuge in Allah and
now. If none of these signs sound familiar, Alhamdulillah! Insh’Allah the
traits of a Healthy Relationship will resonate with you.
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Effects on Victim
When addressing the long-term effects on the victim both emotional and physical
suffering come quickly to mind. Other long-term consequences may include:
- decrease in trust and faith in Allah
- confusion about Islamic rights and liberties
- depression and suicidal thoughts
- eating disorders
- drug and alcohol abuse
- medical problems
- emotional and psychological trauma
- inability to succeed in school or at work
- post-traumatic stress disorder
A victim of intimate partner violence may not be living with the same person ten
years from now, but the same ideas they have learned about acceptable behavior,
respect, and what feels right or wrong will tend stick with them. As a result many
victims run the risk of losing things like:
- behavioral patterns of a good relationship
- future relationships
- healthy thought patterns
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Abuse affects the entire family
Those who live in a violent household are also affected forever. Children suffer
greatly in a family in which one parent abuses the other. See, for example, this
report from UNICEF on the effects of Domestic Violence on Children.
Depending upon their relationship with abuser and victim, they may also suffer from
all of the effects afore listed, as well as the following:
- desensitization to violence and acceptance of violence as a norm
- inability to trust
- hardship in making new friends or keeping old ones
- ignorance of what a healthy relationship is like
- hardship in building future relationships
- unhealthy thought patterns
- low self-esteem
Indeed, by allowing oneself to stay in an abusive relationship,
ones children are then, not by their own choice, remaining in an abusive situation,
which will affect them for the rest of their lives.
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The Whole Community is affected by Abuse
When intimate partner violence is occurring in our community, we are all affected.
Sahih Bukhari includes this narration of Abu Musa:The Prophet said, "A believer
to another believer is like a building whose different parts enforce each other."
The Prophet then clasped his hands with the fingers interlaced.
Living in a violent environment distorts clear thinking, clouds the heart, and makes
it more difficult to develop healthy relationships. In this way, the harm done by
intimate partner violence spreads beyond those immediately affected.
Perpetrators of violence bring their stilted view of relationships and themselves
to everything they do. How often do our community projects fail because of interpersonal
problems among community members – and how many of those are the result of
living in, or having been raised, in a unhealthy family? How many of our community
members never make much of a contribution to our communities, because they have
been so oppressed they cannot even recognize the gifts they have to offer to others?
When there is violence in the family, the very foundation of our community is under
assault. It is everyone's issue: Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, co-workers
-- and all of our fellow Muslims. If we struggle to change ourselves, if both
genders speak out together against violence, then with the grace of
Allah, change will happen. Men can serve as role models for each other, and talk
about this issue together. Women can do the same.
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