Don’t be a victim of domestic violence

Instead of being a victim recognize the signs and take appropriate measures

By Khalid Iqbal – Founder Rahmaa Institute

Being a new bride who just came from Pakistan I was naïve and did not see it coming, although the signs were right in front of me. The home phone had long distance blocked so I was unable to call my parents in Pakistan or even my family and friends who were here in the US. We had a very limited social network, mostly his single unmarried friends. He would not help me get my driver’s license. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. Whenever I asked him to let me go out and work he would always ask why, and refuse to allow me. He would not give me any money for expenses. Whenever I asked for money he would make excuses. I always could sense a very unusual smell on his breath especially when he would come home late from work. I was too naïve to recognize the smell of alcohol on him. Then the unfortunate day came about 5 months after I got married. I complained to him that I am going crazy because of the life I am living. He responded not only with anger but also abused me physically. From that day I have been his punching bag whenever he wants. Almost every time he comes home after a drinking party he starts to beat, punch and kick me. I have cigarette burns on my arms and body that I hide from the world. I am so afraid of him that I am scared to tell anyone. I don’t know what to do or where to go for help.

At Rahmaa Institute, we are seeing a rise in domestic violence cases coming to us at a very alarming rate. Being an internet based counseling service, we do not handle domestic violence cases regularly recognizing that we cannot help the victims completely. They need assistance from a local domestic violence assistance agency. We spend time to find someone local and guide them to get assistance close to where they live.
This article is written to assist victims, their family and friends to recognize signs of domestic violence so that they may be able to take preventive measures. We must warn that although many signs are proven to be accurate our intention is not to accuse anyone of being perpetrator of domestic violence just because they may fit some parts of the profile mentioned in this article.

Recognize the signs:

1. Constant accusation: Does your spouse use “You” sentences when talking about an issue and regularly find fault with you?
2. Use derogatory language when angry like “you are worthless” or “you are always…..”, “Why is it that you …….”?
3. Use foul language when angry.
4. Get more aggressive when you ask him not to hit you or your children: Research tells that it is only cowards who hit someone weaker than them.
5. Isolate you from family and friends. Does your spouse refuse to allow you to talk to your family or make friends? Watch out this is a common action used by the perpetrator.
6. Monitor your phone, emails and other social network communications without your permission: This is a sign of lack of trust between the spouses that often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication. Many times leading to arguments that may lead to violence.
7. Are you confined to the house for no valid reason? Your husband puts undue restrictions on you from leaving the house even when you ask him. We recognize the right of husband to be aware of where his wife and children are. But the intention must be out of the welfare of the family and not isolation.
8. Do you feel intimidated and afraid in his presence? This would be because his/her past violent behavior and actions.
9. Forced into undesirable social or sexual behavior: If your spouse ever coerced or try to force you into an undesirable social or sexual behavior or activity, threatening you if you don’t cooperate.
10. Threaten to withdraw support for Green Card: Your spouse has threatened you to withdraw his/her support to get you your legal status (green card) unless you follow his/her desires unconditionally.
11. Use your common sense: There may be other signs that are special for your case. Just use your common sense.

Take appropriate measures before it is too late:

1. Start gaining knowledge about domestic violence and victim’s options. Make yourself familiar with the terminology, laws, and process. Cover yourself and your children from all angles.
2. Those who are not familiar with the system should search the internet and seek guidance from local social services or domestic violence prevention organizations. The more knowledge and prepared you are, the better you will be able to deal with a negative situation.
3. Tell someone trust worthy that may be willing to help you and your children in case the need arises.
4. Find a safe place such as family, friends, shelter, or masjid that have the space and facility to accommodate you and your children in case of an emergency.
5. Keep in mind that your spouse will try to find you and may force, coerce or beg you to come back home. Make sure that it is your decision to agree to go back or not. Many victims find themselves and their children in worst situation after going back with the abuser.
6. Keep important documents and items like passport, green card, immigration papers, birth certificates, immigration papers, health cards, list of important telephone numbers (During an emergency exit you may not be able to bring your cell phone with you) check book, bank documents, extra set of car keys, jewelry, cash money, bank card, credit card extra set of clothes in a safe place away from your home where you can easily access them.
7. Many victims start to blame themselves for the situation they are in. Often that leads to severe depression and desire to harm yourself, even think of committing suicide. Please know that you are not to blame. It is definitely not your fault. As a matter of fact you should feel proud to face a challenging situation that many would fail.
8. If you are hurt seek medical treatment as soon as possible. Explain to the doctor what happened.
9. Keep notes (who, what, why, when, where etc) and a diary of the incidents, especially your injuries. Take pictures and keep them in your cell phone, or email them to yourself. These may come in handy later as evidence.
10. Witnessing domestic violence has a negative effect on your children. It may put fear in their hearts. When they see violent behavior of adults who are supposed to be their role model and protectors. It may affect their behavior, education, health, attitude or in some other way.
11. Often the abuser may make threats to withdraw the victim’s immigration and green card application. That is not true. U.S. and Canadian immigration look at domestic violence victims cases with due consideration. In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which provides immigration relief to victims of domestic violence at the hands of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Information is available on the internet e.g. URL
12. Form an escape plan in case the situation warrants you to leave right away. Do not stop to gather your stuff. Sometimes sisters have had to leave their home without hijab or even shoes just to protect them and children.
13. Please refer to National Muslim organizations like ISSA or FAITH US or other social service organizations in your area.

Rahmaa Institute only provides education and counseling services and does not deal with domestic violence cases directly. However we continue to get calls and emails asking for assistance and help. We thought the best way to assist the victims is to empower them with some knowledge. We do provide anger management program based on the Quran and Sunnah of Rasool Allah SWS that has helped many to understand and control their anger. We also strongly recommend discussing anger and domestic violence during the premarital counseling session before marriage. May Allah protect us all.
——Some relevant resources:
Gender Equity in Islam
By Dr. Jamal Badawi

This book presents an effective overview of the status and rights of Muslim women as defined by the Quran and Sunnah.

The Muslim Marriage Guide
By Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood

The best book for a key to a happy Marriage, explains what a Muslim should do to make his or her marriage successful!
DVD: The Ideal Muslim Husband
An eye opening DVD documentary for all who are married or planning to get married.
Sound vision website:

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