A family ignoring the fact the Uncle is a sexual predator, forcing one of his victims to remain friendly with him and a woman desperate to escape this toxic environment. Original counseling answer posted on AboutIslam
It took a lot of courage to write in and express such a painful topic. Thank you for trusting us with the opportunity to provide guidance.
It is my understanding you experienced molestation by your uncle from your toddler years and into adolescence. Your family is dismissive of what happened to the extent that they accuse you of somehow being accountable for what he did to you. I hope you realize they are 100% wrong and they will be held accountable for their role in your trauma.
Their actions (or lack thereof) cause you to experience those same feelings of helplessness, depression and that the people who were supposed to protect you are the ones you need protection from.
Dear Sister, I understand and empathize with your situation on a deeper level than you know. Please know you are never alone, and you are so strong, Inshallah you will rise above all of this.
“Fear not. Indeed, I am with you both; I hear and I see.” [Quran 20:46]
Under no circumstances is it acceptable to force you into being around this man. He sexually abuses children, he is a monster and you are most likely not the only one he has hurt nor will you be the last. You might be the only one who was strong enough to say something.
I know this won’t be easy, but I advise refusing to be around him and making it clear if he is allowed to be present then you will not. Your mother is apparently a witness as she knew about him doing it when you were only 2 years old. Try to ask your mother to support you in this act, she tried to advocate for you before, she might again.
You asked about getting married to move out and escape this situation. You are at a great age for marriage, but the decision to marry should not be made out of desperation and despair. It should be a choice you want to make, not a choice you have to make.
That being said, if you have a genuine interest in someone for marriage for more than just an escape plan then it is a great option to consider. This home environment is toxic and contributing to your depression, and a change of scenery with a supportive household could really help inshallah.
I need to highlight something, you have experienced a lot of trauma. It is advisable to make sure you are ready emotionally for marriage before taking that step and select someone you can feel safe with and confide in.
To be clear, if you only want marriage to escape your home then you may end up in a bad marriage that only increases your pain.
Coping Skills and Self-Talk
You mentioned keeping yourself busy and concentrating on other things. It is good to identify at least 3 positive coping skills you can employ when triggered. Such as creating artwork, journaling, trying new recipes or going for a walk in a favorite location. Think about what activities help you reign in your emotions and feel better.
Your emotions, thoughts and actions are all linked. This means we can work on altering those negative emotions by changing your thoughts and actions. I would like you to get a pen and paper, let yourself feel those painful emotions and take notice of your thoughts. Write those hurtful thoughts down on paper. For example, someone in your situation may think “no one cares, I’m weak”.
Once you have identified some of your negative thoughts it is time to debate them. Using the same example, we would write down a rational thought to debate the painful one. Such as, “they love me, but they are oppressed by culture and afraid to do the right thing, I am stronger than them in this and will not tolerate any more abuse”.
Let’s extend this idea of debating your painful thoughts on paper and try to practice this in real time. If something triggers those painful memories or feelings, you can use the same concept except do it in your mind. Talk to yourself internally during difficult moments while seeking refuge in Allah (Swt).
This one is easier said than done but bear in mind it is for you and Allah (SWT) not for him. When we hold onto our past traumas and let the scars reopen, we are giving power to the pain allowing it to continuously hurt us. Learning to forgive does not mean you forget; does not mean you condone and does not mean you have to be friendly with him. It simply means you let go of it and trust in Allah (SWT) to handle it. Remember Sister, Allah (SWT) will hold to account those that spread evil and corruption.
“and seek help through patience and prayer, and indeed, it is difficult except for the humbly submissive [to Allah]” [Quran 2:45]
This also means forgiving the rest of your family. Try to sit down with your mother and ask her if the family would consider counseling. Having a mediator increases accountability for what is said and helps keep the situation calm. Forgiveness is a struggle, but perhaps that is part of the reason forgiveness and mercy is so highlighted in Islam.
You asked about specific duaas (supplications) for your situation. Sister, speak from the heart. You can say duaa in whatever language you like, whenever you like and for whatever you like provided it is appropriate.
The Prophet (ﷺ) used to say, “O Allah! I seek refuge with You from worry and grief, from incapacity and laziness, from cowardice and miserliness, from being heavily in debt and from being overpowered by (other) men.” [Bukhari]
You took a brave step writing into us, keep on this path of healing Sister and inshallah it will get easier.
Continue to make duaa
Be aware of your negative thoughts and debate them
Initiate getting your parents into counseling with you or at least sitting down talking honestly. Consider someone to advocate for you as a mediator if without a counselor
Forgive for yourself and Allah (SWT)
Self-advocate for your right not to be exposed to this man
Please only seek out a marriage if you truly want to be married and are ready for this commitment; your marriage should be a celebration, not a rescue operation. It is through Allah (SWT) that we can find healing in the warmth and light of our connection to the Quran, read it with an open heart and let it console you.
May Allah (SWT) heal your heart, guide your family and protect you.