Help a family
The Prophet of Islam (peace and blessings be upon him) declared, "Help your brother,
be he the oppressor or the oppressed." The Companions responded, "As for the oppressed,
we understand, but how should we help the oppressor?" "Stop him from oppression,"
replied the Prophet (peace be upon him). What else do we need to be told to get
involved? Let’s do it the right way.
Here we are talking about helping a family whose loved one is being victimized or
is being abusive, and they don’t know what to do. We provide tips for speaking
with adults whose family members are in an unhealthy relationship. The situation
becomes more complicated when a child who has not reached the age of legal responsibility
approaches you for help. In these cases, we advise you to seek professional advice,
as you may be legally obligated in some jurisdictions to report abuse to the authorities.
Listen to them.
This is one of the most important things you can do. Remember that there is a difference
between expressing concern and telling someone what to do. Your job is to encourage
them to express their feelings and make their own decisions.
Believe and respect them.
Do not deny the abuse is happening. Do not pass judgment. Do not ridicule their
Offer your unconditional friendship and support.
If it's uncomfortable to discuss the relationship itself, start by helping them
feel good about themselves. Show your support no matter what. Talk to them about
their family’s strengths.
Do not preach.
Tell them that the safety of their loved ones is your priority. Do not give them
confusing lectures about Islamic values.
Encourage them to build a support system.
A broad support system includes relatives, teachers, counselors, and other
Make sure they have a safety plan
that they have discussed with the victim. Maybe you keep their important documents
and things at your place.
Encourage seeking help.
Provide support in facing the problem and dealing with it for the sake of each member
of the family. Provide support and transportation to places like shelters, legal
aid, etc. If you have an Imam you can trust to deal with this situation appropriately,
encourage seeking his help first. It is possible that the family will feel more
comfortable with an Imam and an Islamic center than in mainstream social services.
Check other resources, too.
Do not spread gossip.
Gossip can put a victim in danger if it gets back to the abuser, so think before
you speak. The family has taken a big step in speaking to you—it is critical
that they can trust you with confidential information.
Do not directly confront the abuser.
Avoid all contact whatsoever. Direct confrontation may make the situation worse.
Abusive behavior only changes when the abuser accepts responsibility for his action.
Do not rush.
Changing an abusive situation usually takes time and isn't something to rush. Be
there and be patient, so the victim can emerge from the problem on his/her own timetable.
Do not make them do something.
Don't force the family to do something it may feel uncomfortable doing. The victim
needs to make his/her own decisions. It's okay to be persuasive, but never to get
angry. Don't try to end the relationship for them.
Make sure they know their risks.
Check out the list of