By: Isatou Daffeh | NY
By the time you get to the end of this reflection, over 120 people would have physically abused--beaten, hit, punched, smacked, kicked, choked-- in some form by their intimate partner.
People of all ages, both men and women, experience domestic violence. The person who sat next to you in class or on the bus or train today could have been a victim or survivor. You may even be a survivor. Signs of abuse may not always be the scars and black & blue marks. Nonetheless Islam condemns all forms of violence whether physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, or psychological as they very well may be as equally painful. So long as violence against women persists, men and women will not have the same opportunities and it will continue to be normalized over generations, the silence remaining over decades.
End the silence. Domestic Violence awareness is not something we focus on for a month and then move on. Continue to advocate against it with your actions, deeds, speech, and tongue, as our beloved Prophet (May Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) did. It is an epidemic that is not exclusive to the Muslim community; domestic abuse crosses all religious, racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines. Domestic violence is never a “mistake.” Victims and survivors don’t heal with a “sorry.” The pain and repercussions go beyond the victims and usually go over generations.
The next step to realizing and understanding that it is present in the Muslim community is to believe the women and men who share their survival stories and understand that it's never their fault. It is not always easy to determine if one will become an abuser, part of the reason being that domestic violence intensifies over time as perpetrators desire an increase in controlling their partner. Yet, more often than not, wrongful criticism and blame is placed on the victim. Stopping abuse is not as simple leaving the abuser therefore we should never undermine or degrade anyone’s traumatizing experiences. It is not a matter of poor choices, weakness, a “lack of patience” as we often hear, or irrational fear. Human beings can only handle so much. Often times, survivors choose to remain silent for different reasons, so when they speak up, be supportive and listen.
Now more than ever should we be steadfast in speaking out against domestic abuse. Our president elect is horrifying in so many ways, specifically in the scope of abuse. We have an obligation to advocate against, not just a few times a year, normalized violations like domestic abuse and remind people that it has no place in Islam. “The best among you is the one who treats his family the best, and I am the one who treats his family the best.” Prophet Muhammed, Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam