Story 15: 16 Days, 16 Stories
TW Warning: These stories contain detailed descriptions of abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, physical violence and other forms of harassment and discrimination which may be triggering.
I remember vividly hearing her say they met on a Tuesday night at a club many moons ago. They didn’t officially become a ‘thing’ until after months of him trying to take her out. At that time, she was a teen single mother with a 2-year-old, living in the bottom flat of her aunt’s house, with no parental support and very little support from my sister’s father. She basically got a wage from braiding hair and sometimes cleaning other people’s homes.
A year after meeting, she finally gave in and decided to give the Mr. - who was a Muslim - a chance even though she knew he had numerous children with a lot of other women.
At around age 24, she became pregnant with me and soon after I was born, she became a Muslim and started practicing Deen. This decision came with a lot of negative comments and my mother was completely cut off by most of her family. The new married life was fruitful and sweet but little did she know what she truly got herself into.
A few years into the marriage, still with little to no family support, my mother became a victim of domestic abuse. Using her need for a home for her children and financial support, my father became demanding and would constantly hit her if she wasn’t able to satisfy his needs.
Using religion to justify his abuse, he would tell her that “Allah curses the wives who disobey their husbands” and of course with little knowledge she’d try to please him.
After some time, she started wearing the burqa to hide her scars from everyone. She would take great effort to make sure that before we went to the masjid or a friend's house, she had wudhu, so that when the time for Salah came, she could just go and pray and no one would see the bruises.
I, on the other hand, had no idea my mother was being abused, until one day when I came home early from school. I remember opening the door quietly, so that they wouldn’t see me. When I saw what was taking place inside, my eyes couldn’t believe what they saw. It was the first time I saw my mother cry. I tried to understand what and why this was happening.
The weekend came and my family decided to spend time together at our second home, just outside of town. This was a nightmare. The morning we got there, my sister was inside with us while my parents went out for a walk- at least, that’s what I thought. However, soon after, my parents returned and my mother was crying.
I went to her, hugging her, asking her if she was ok? Like every mother, she reassured me, and started asking me questions about school. During our conversation, she said to me “hand me that bottle next to you”. When she opened the bottle, a pungent odor came out and she said “go inside with your sisters”. As I got up she took a few sips and then fell off the chair. I screamed, immediately, I felt guilty knowing that I was the one who gave her the bottle.
We called the ambulance and Alhumdulillah the doctors were able to stabilize her but she had to stay at the hospital. We spent the rest of the weekend at home with my older cousins while mommy was getting treated. Eventually, my mother's family heard about what was happening and my parents got divorced. Though I was young at the time I was very happy that my mother was no longer experiencing that.
If you or someone you know is being abused and needs help, please contact BAML’s Hotline at 284-2613 or 257-5582. WhatsApp Messages are also accepted. This is a free, highly confidential service.