What should a parent do if he or she suspects abuse?
If you are worried that your child has been sexually abused, it is important to put your trust in Allah and stay calm. Children are very intuitive and can easily sense there is something “up”. Allah Says (what means): “…Indeed, Allah is with the patient.” [Quran 2: 153]
It is imperative that you stay completely casual when you ask your child the following question:
“I’m wondering if someone has been touching you in a way you don’t like or don’t understand.” (this question was taken from ‘Protect Your Child from Sexual Abuse’).
Did anyone ask you to keep a secret?
Stay away from questions like: “Did anyone touch you in a place that you didn’t like?” (A common question).
Generally speaking, a child who has never been abused may just complain about somebody tickling him or her. But for the child who has been sexually abused, more than likely they will either act uncomfortable about the questions or avoid it completely. It is important to understand that they are still in the cycle of violence. They may have been possibly threatened or made promises that they “feel” they should keep. The abuser has probably spent hours and hours gaining the child’s trust and being their “personal friend”. This makes it very difficult for the child to say anything about the abuser.
It is important that you remain both relaxed and open. Try to pray Salaat –ul-Istikhaarah (the prayer of seeking Allah’s Guidance) for help before you start opening the communication. Allah Says (what means): “And seek help through patience and prayer…” [Quran 2: 45]
It is natural for the parent to feel rage, anger, pain etc. But it is essential that you remain calm. Mujaahid, may Allah be pleased with him, said: “Beautiful patience is patience without any panic.” ‘Amr Ibn Qays said: “Beautiful patience means to be content with adversity and to surrender to the will of Allah.” The child will probably think that you are angry with him or her and not with the abuser. They may not even know that by talking to you they had incriminated their “friend”. Your reaction is very important to keep the lines of communication open. It is important to be reassuring and to let the child know that he had done nothing wrong.
Once opening the “can of worms”, the child might start feeling scared and insecure. He or she may need lots of hugs and reassuring words. From the moment that the child opens up, everything after that will affect him or her for the rest of the life. Your being stable and a “rock” for him or her is impetrative.
Depending on what country you live in, you need to then follow procedure in order to insure proper legal steps are taken. You can’t just leave the situation thinking “ok, I won’t let him or her with again.” This is not enough. Reread Characteristics of the Sexual Abuser and see how many children they abuse in their life. Is this fair to allow a criminal to go free, knowing very well that he will strike again. I know it is very hard to do this, especially if it is a family member. But these people are very sick. Think about Prophet Loote, may Allah exalt his mention, when he, may Allah exalt his mention, dealt with the homosexual issue. Left undone, the sickness spread throughout the entire city. The same happens with innocent children, many may have multitude of sexual issues when they grow up. The effect of even just one incident can permanently damage them for the rest of their lives. It is important to note that young boys who are sexually abused can either withdraw into theirselves or actually become sexual abusers themselves as they grow up.
They are so mixed up and feeling shame and powerlessness that they may end of repeating the same cycle. Like the man who is yelled at by his boss, then comes home and yells at his wife, then the wife yells at the kids and the kids kick and yell at the neighbor kids or guard dog. It is a vicious cycle that will not go away.
One thing in Islamic communities is that they worry more about protecting their girls than their boys. This is a big mistake! We need to wake up and care about both our girls and boys the same. Just because they are boys doesn’t mean that they cannot be sexually abused.
Please note that your child may feel very guilty for “causing” all the problems in the family. It is of course worse if the offender is one of the family members. Your child may have to repeat over and over to different authorities what happened. You do not want the child to close down. It is important that you offer your unconditional love and support for the child. Help the child understand that the move he or she made, Allah willing, will protect him or her and other children from the offender. Read to children stories of those who stood up to injustice no matter how hard it was. Let them know that it is their right as Muslim children that they are protected and cared for.
It is important not to let too many people know about what had happened. Your child’s privacy is very important. Also take care of yourself and get the support you need. Remember! Allah wrote everything that was to happen, and you shouldn’t beat yourself up for this. We must believe that Allah has Wisdom behind every incident. Allah Knows and Sees everything. With His infinite Wisdom call on Allah by His most beautiful Names and Attributes.
Allah Says (what means): “…But give good tidings to the patient, who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.” [Quran 2: 155-7]
By: Lynn Jefferies