Content warning: Sexual assault, rape.
Disclaimer: This article is in no way meant to substitute for medical or mental health advice from a trained and educated mental health professional. Muslim Girl encourages those who need help to seek it, and encourages the use of resources such as therapists, social workers, psychologists, psychiatrists, and trained mental health professionals. You should never try to manage your mental health alone. You are not alone, and there is no shame in seeking professional help. Muslim Girl also does not recommend self-diagnosis; again, please seek the help of a professional. The following are the views and experiences of the author only.
Several years ago, it happened to me. #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, as if my body remembers. It does. Trauma is stored in the body. Although I found solace in my faith, some pains are irrevocable, and I’ll be forever changed.
If the guy who sexually assaulted me ever reads this, I hope you never cause another person this much pain again. Communicate your intent. Obtain consent. Yes, we live in a hyper-sexual world, but some of us still believe in abstinence before marriage. And even if we were willing to engage in pre-marital sex, no still means NO.
As for myself, 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 almost taken away from me without my permission. Without it being MY choice.
It created dissonance within myself. The dissonance, could have led me one of two ways — one of them not so helpful or conducive to healing. Luckily this discord led me closer to me faith instead of farther away. I’m truly grateful for that, as it led to some 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 within the depths of my soul.
Communicate your intent. Obtain consent. Yes, we live in a hyper-sexual world, but some of us still believe in abstinence before marriage. And even if we were willing to engage in pre-marital sex, no still means NO.
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. Believe survivors.
When it happened, I was alone with the shock; the trauma. Confusion, guilt, and loneliness consumed me. I didn’t know what to do. Who to go to. When I had nowhere 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. Their teachings were for my own 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 caused me growth. I share my pain because its lessons were deeper than my wounds. I share my pain because I realized it was a blessing in disguise.
I turned to my Creator, my Sustainer, sincerely looking for help, looking for 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. Alhamdulilah, he used to be a dorm resident assistant. 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 assaults. She was a sweet elderly Christian lady, and the perfect therapist for me then. I was able to talk to her about my trauma and about my faith, leading 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. As is so beautifully stated in the Quran, “Allah does not burden a soul more than it can bare.” I kept this as my mantra.
I reflected on other Islamic teachings, such as the idea that “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.” I realized this is exactly why we are the people of “Alhamdulillah.” We can learn from our pains. Each pain has its growth. Each pain has its healing. May God guide me to mine, and you to yours.
For all my sisters, brothers, and siblings struggling with your own growing pains, know that you are not alone. I’m with you. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is with you. Allah is with you. You are never alone.