Abuse in relationships includes more than just bruises, black eyes, and broken bones. With the exception of catastrophic brain injury, it is often the abuse that is concealed from view — such as financial, verbal, and spiritual abuse – that causes the most long-term damage to victims.
Spiritual abuse on the other hand, can cause us to doubt ourselves, our aspirations, and even our belief systems, causing us to change for the worse and leaving unseen wounds over time.
What is spiritual abuse?
The abuser uses so-called religious concepts to exert power and control over their victim in a spiritually abusive relationship.
Abusers frequently misrepresent religion in order to excuse and enable the abuse of both women and children.
Understand the warning signs
Spiritual abuse is when someone exerts power and control over a victim by using religion as an excuse or justification for the abuse. It can be displayed in a variety of ways:
Isolation is a common emotional abuse method used on Muslim and other domestic abuse victims. It works well because it inhibits victims from seeking aid and support from others in order to quit or leave abusive situations.
Denial or minimisation of abuse:
Abusers will do everything they can to make it appear as though the abuse isn’t taking place. They often try to persuade the victims that they are exaggerating the situation.
This trivialising, denying, and minimising of abusive conduct can also include enlisting the help of children to lie about the abuse, or rejecting the abuse by referring to it as “discipline” although it is still abuse of adults and children in the household.
The abuser may blame the victim in a spiritually abusive relationship. He may allege that the victim “caused” or “invited” the abuse by her actions. This may cause the victim to question her own behaviours and intentions in the relationship.
A victim may come to believe that the abuse is all her fault over time. She may desperately strive to adapt herself to fit what their abuser wants her to say, do, think, or feel, and in the process, she may lose herself.
Misinterpretation of Islamic teachings:
In a spiritually abusive relationship, the victim may be informed that speaking up about the abuse is a violation of her Islamic obligation to protect her husband’s privacy if she does so. Using religion to rationalise persistent domestic abuse is spiritual abuse, and it should be recognised as such.
In Islam, speaking up against injustice and abuse is not only permissible, but encouraged.
This means that having a voice is absolutely permissible under Islamic law, matter how much those in power would wish to keep their atrocities hidden. It is critical to speak up against injustice and abuse in order to keep our communities safe, sane, and on track.
It’s critical for victims of abuse to speak out and discuss what they’re going through, or what they’ve gone through in the past, in order to raise awareness about domestic violence in Muslim communities. Victims can learn and heal from one other by sharing their stories. They can also get the help and support they require.