I was sexually abused as a child by my eldest brother. Years later he tried again and it bought it all back for me. It keeps on coming back to me randomly and I have to still live with him. We mostly don’t talk and he has a mental illness now. I told my brothers when he tried it again some years ago and they spoke with him. I told my mum recently but she didn’t say much and I can’t tell my dad because he’d disown and kill him. It’s so hard. I don’t know what to do anymore please help.

Quran

Hadith

Islamic Text

فَقَالَ أَبُو سَعِيدٍ: أَمَّا هَذَا فَقَدْ قَضَى مَا عَلَيْهِ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ يَقُولُ: «مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ، فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ، وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ» .

Abu Sa’id  said I heard the Messenger of Allah  saying: Whoever amongst you sees something abominable should change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart, and that is the least of faith. (Sahih Muslim, 49 – 78).

May Allah (Most High) bless you and grant you strength in this difficult situation. The most important advice I can give is to turn to Allah (Most High), to be constant in the Dhikr of Allah (Most High) and to focus on your relationship with Allah (Most High). This will be of great benefit and give you an abundance of strength to overcome the difficulties you are facing.

I want to start by highlighting the fact that you have told your mother and other siblings about what’s happened is absolutely the right thing to do. In these kinds of situations, one of our primary concerns is to make sure the victim is not harmed again, and nor are other people harmed by this individual. A part of that is to tell people, especially those who are close to the victim, and also those who are close to the perpetrator so they can be on their guard and they can safeguard other potential victims.

I also agree with your decision, at least currently, not to inform your father, since you believe that his response could be so strong to this, that he might end up committing a serious crime and potentially end up in prison, which will only make things worse. Had that not been the case, then I would advise that he should be aware of the situation because making people aware of these kinds of things can safeguard not only the current victim, but other potential victims.

Since you have spoken to your family and have their support, it is important to discuss what other means and measures need to be taken to make sure nothing like this ever happens again. It is also important for everybody to understand that the focus here must be on the victim, safeguarding and protecting the victim as well as protecting other people. Unfortunately too often the focus is on the criminal or perpetrator of the crime, protecting him and hiding his crimes, this is unacceptable. I know this is an obvious point, but sadly it has to be made because, too often in our communities, the focus is incorrect. As mentioned in the Hadith above, we must work to remove sin and evil when we encounter it. In these situations protecting the perpetrator does the opposite.

The family must assist the victim in getting over this traumatic experience. It seems a major barrier to this and to moving on is the victim seeing the offender every day. This must be discussed with the family and a suitable solution must be agreed upon, where the victim does not have to constantly see the perpetrator.

I would advise the victim to focus on the relationship with Allah (Most High), as there is no greater solace and no greater source of strength and power than one’s relationship with Allah (Most High). When a person is in a dark place, there is no greater source of light than turning to Allah (Most High), no means of illumination greater than being close to Allah (Most High). Try to busy yourself in good works, deeds of piety, and other positive things. Try to avoid dwelling on what has happened, this may be difficult at first but with persistence it can be achieved.

The victim might also need very personal and expert help and advice regarding the situation and therefore may decide to see a counsellor or some other expert who can help the victim. This is fine if the victim feels it is going to help. However, I would strongly advise trying to find an expert or counsellor who also has expertise in the Islamic sciences with thorough understanding of the teachings of Quran and Hadith. These are exceedingly difficult and sensitive issues to deal with, if a person gives the wrong advice, it can be incredibly detrimental. However,  if a person gives the correct advice, in the light of Quran and Sunnah, then it can be incredibly beneficial.

May Allah (Most High) bless you and your family, and grant you all ease and comfort.

And Allah (Most High) Knows Best.

– Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen (12.03.2021)