Domestic Violence Has Many Faces

I am a Syrian American mother of two toddlers who walked out of an abusive marriage over a year ago. I got married right after getting my bachelor's and was married for exactly four years. I am so grateful to Allah that He has awakened me to see the reality of the man that had charmed me into this marriage. Little did I know, I had married a narcissist from a male dominated society. He was mainly an emotional abuser, which is why I was being manipulated and didn't notice what was happening. I slowly started to lose my identity, lose focus, energy drained, panic attacks, anxiety, and losing my ability to carryout my everyday responsibilities. I didn’t realize that my status had gone from a wife (“his queen”) to a slave over time. Despite doing everything I was “culturally” expected to, I was still being criticized and put down by him. It was so gradual that I did not even realize it till the last few months in my marriage. In time, nothing I did was good enough. I always looked for solutions and thought that with a little more effort things would get better. I was wrong and in denial. I couldn’t imagine myself divorced. Slowly but surely, I had become enslaved without being aware. At one point, home alone, I broke down and in that moment I sincerely asked Allah to guide me because I did not understand what was going on, where I was going, or how I got here.

Soon after, his behavior started to get worse to a point that allowed me to wake up, take a step back, and make an instant decision. The minute I put my trust in Allah and said “I want to get divorced” with certainty, it was as if a huge boulder was lifted off my shoulders. And I have since then for a year and a half have been divorced. It was the best decision I ever made. Divorce (especially with two toddlers) is not a walk in the park but I’ve experienced and learned the meaning of “Verily, with every hardship, there is ease.” (94:6) I found so much blessings during this time, grown into a stronger person (mentally and emotionally), and continuously finding success in every step of my journey, Alhamdulillah.

There are cultures that teach patience in toxic relationships like this and even worse. People are confusing Islam with culture. Allah SWT did not create the woman to be a servant of a man but it has become a cultural epidemic. The woman is supposed to build this heavenly home all on her own while being disrespected and unappreciated by the closest person to her. There are those cultures that make it so hard for a woman to get divorced because of the social pressures. Alhamdulillah, I got over that thinking. Yes, my divorce was a shock to my father and it was hard for him to accept the idea. In time, certain events and situations regarding my ex proved to my father that I was indeed right about my decision. My divorce has caused me no social outcast because it was not my fault.

Everyone needs to be educated about toxic relationships that women (mainly) become victims of. Regardless of your relationship status, I urge you to read and educate yourself on the following topics: the narcissist (Narcissistic Personality disorder) and gas-lighting as a manipulation technique. Learn about the red flags for these personality issues so you are better able to identify narcissists in a short period of time. Check out the information available on the toxic relationship of a narcissist and Empath. Look up the power and control wheel. It’s critical to learn about these personality disorders because had I not come across an article about narcissists, I would have never known that there was no hope for my marriage. I hope that every struggling Muslim sister out there realizes that she is the servant of no one other than Allah because, SubhanaAllah, only our worship, love and obedience to Allah will fills us with so much energy, hope, contentment and happiness.

Your sister in Islam