Author’s note: This tale is not meant to act as a how-to for dealing with sexual assault. It is simply an acknowledgement of my suffering and how I turned to faith and professional health to overcome my trauma. To my sisters who have been the victims of sexual assault and are still floundering and struggling to deal, I see you. I feel your pain. Always remember that while it may not be easy, seeking professional help to work through your trauma is the greatest gift you can give yourself. I wish you healing.
Several years ago, long before #MeToo, I was sexually assaulted.
The explicit details are unnecessary to share here. But I do want you to know it was traumatizing for me. So traumatizing that this time of year, the daylight, the weather, re-traumatizes me subconsciously. Although I found solace in my faith, some pains are irrevocable. Trauma never truly leaves the body.
If the guy who sexually assaulted me ever reads this, I hope he can never cause another person this much pain again. Communicate your intent. Obtain consent. #YesMeansYes.
I Was Stripped of My Choice
I still believe in abstinence before marriage. And yet, I was naive. The guy claimed to have the same faith as me, so I assumed that meant no sex before marriage. But that’s not something he chose to value within our faith. He must have assumed that I didn’t either.
But I did.
It hurt to have that value of mine almost taken away from me without my permission. Without it being MY choice.
I share my pain because that’s one way I’ve found to cope. I share my pain because no other person should have to go through this.
It created dissonance within myself. The dissonance, could have led me one of two ways. Luckily this discord led me closer to me faith instead of further away. I’m truly grateful for that as it led to healing and enlightenment. Some pains will lead you to the most beautiful of growths.
But it still hurts. It’s still hurts unconsciously, subconsciously. It struck a deep chord. I share my pain because that’s one way I’ve found to cope. I share my pain because no other person should have to go through this. I share my pain because we need to talk about sexual safety, consent, women’s rights, human rights.
How I Survived
In the aftermath, I was alone with the shock, the trauma. Confusion, guilt and loneliness consumed me. I didn’t know what to do, or who to turn to.
When I had no where to go, I realized I could turn to Allah (God). I turned to Him wholeheartedly.
I realized He was right all along. My parents were right. Islam was right. The Quran was right. The strength I found in my faith offered me protection, guidance, growth.
My mom planted the love for God in me. She planted the seed of Islam. The seed needed rain to growth. Allah was the Sun. The combination was where my healing began.
I share my pain because it’s something that acted as a catalyst for growth. I share my pain because it’s lessons were deeper than my wounds. I share my pain because for me, it was a blessing in disguise.
I turned to my Creator, my Sustainer, sincerely looking for help and healing. I asked and He answered. Not long after, my husband came into the picture. He was clear about his intent. He wanted to marry me. He was honest about his intentions, so I was honest with him about my pain.
Faith brings some healing but with trauma and mental health issues you need professional help too.
As though he was my perfect puzzle piece, my husband used to be a dorm resident assistant. This meant that he knew where to guide me for the help I so needed. Faith brings some healing but with trauma and mental health issues you need professional help too.
My first therapist, Mary, specialized in sexual assault. She was a sweet elderly Christian lady and her demeanor and approach made her the perfect therapist for me. I was able to talk to her about my trauma and about my faith which led to more healing.
I married my husband and learned what sexual safety looks like. I married my husband and learned what women’s rights look like. I married my husband and learned more about myself and God.
“Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bare.”
“The affairs of a believer are strange…if good happens to him he is grateful if bad happens to him he is patient, all his affairs are good for him.”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
And that’s why we are the people of Alhamdulillah. Each pain has its reasons. Each pain has its growth. Each pain has its healing. But we MUST reach out for help to work through our trauma. May God guide me to mine and you to yours.