Islamic marriage advice and family advice

Hidden Effects of Emotional Abuse

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse hurts.

On this website, the majority of our questions showcase some type of unhealthy dynamic in a relationship. Sometimes the dysfunction comes from sinful actions, and we have to help others realize the mess they created for themselves and how to right their wrongs.

But many other times, our posters are victims of mistreatment at the hands of others. It could be a wife being beaten by her husband, or a daughter being forced into marriage by her parents. It could be a young man being threatened by a young woman that she will take her life if he refuses to marry her. It could be a son being emotionally blackmailed by his mother to let go of a perfectly suitable potential Muslim wife.

One thing that these posters usually have in common is a sense of confusion of what to do to change their situation, and that's likely because all of their circumstances contain an element of either verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse.

Unfortunately, the Islamic community at large is woefully unequipped to address these types of abuse. Many shaykhs, imams and muftis are expert at giving fatwas on matters and shariah and fiqh, but have never taken courses or training in infant/child development or psychology to understand the vast and long-reaching tolls these types of abuses can manifest. As a result, many families are given remedies that allow the abuses to continue, with the blame being placed on the victim for "not having enough sabr".

Often, the patterns go unchanged, and the abuse plays out generation after generation. In some cases it even becomes a societal or cultural norm.

Verbal, emotional and psychological abuse is often just as damaging as physical abuse, if not more. Many people who have suffered this kind of abuse live with it for years and decades, feeling the hurt freshly each time they recall being called names or put down and belittled. Even if they are no longer in an abusive situation, the scars and trauma from the treatment they endured can last the rest of their lives, and cause them to relate to others in such a way as to attract other abusive individuals into their lives.

The damages of these unseen abuses often result in lost self-esteem, self doubt and loathing, dismantled confidence, and a pervasive feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, and powerlessness. These abuses can take the very spirit out of someone, and keep it out, in ways that being physically harmed cannot. Unseen abuse is also directly linked to higher incidents of mental illness- including clinical depression, anxiety, adjustment disorders, personality disorders, and more.

What's even more serious is that enduring such abuse can put a victim at risk for being physically or sexually abused as well.  Children who are treated in unloving ways by their caregivers, and called names, and being berated all the time suffer the feeling of being unloved. They become vulnerable to the grooming and manipulation of sexual abusers, and many times end up becoming victims to horrible things. Because their self worth was already destroyed by the emotional abuse of the parents, these children often believe the only way they can be valuable is by living with the abuse, and often take on sexually sinful lifestyles as adults because it's the only way they know how to feel good about themselves.

Likewise, emotional and psychological abuse can lead to physical abuse. In a typical physically abusive relationship, a victim is often emotionally torn down just as much as they are physically. Many times the victims come to believe that what they are going through is deserved, and they blame themselves. They end up staying in the abusive relationship far longer than they should, because they've become convinced it's their responsibility to solve the problem "they are creating".  Many times they will stick up for their abusers and protect them, because the familiarity of the abuse outweighs the benefits of escaping to peace and safety. In essence, the victims have been brainwashed to accept something very unacceptable, which is the core essence of psychological abuse.

Since the hidden dangers of verbal, psychological, and emotional abuse are often so lethal, it's important that the victim try to remove themselves from the unhealthy relationship as soon as they realize it. Many times, this is the only way to become healthy and break the patterns to keep them from being passed on to another generation. If you are in a situation where you are being emotionally, verbally, or psychologically abused, don't be afraid to reach out for help.

Please know that the reality that might be given to you by your abuser is not your true reality. There are people in your life who see you for who you are, and love you for who you are with no strings attached. There are people in your life that don't need you to prove yourself to them to accept you and care for you. There are people in the world who see the good in you, believe in you, and want to see you live the life you deserve. Reach out to these people. Let them help you redefine the reality that you've been given by the abuse. Let them help you rebuild your sense of self worth and confidence.

If you have a hard time finding such people in your life, please, look for a good counselor or therapist. They can help you undo the damage that the abuse has caused you. They can help you see yourself as you truly are, not as the person you've been told you are. There are plenty of resources out there to help you live a fuller life -the life you deserve- so don't let another person's sickness rob you of that. Remember, someone who abuses another does it because THEY are sick, not because you are. It's a form of oppression, and Islam says this about oppression:

Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar: Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . " Sahih Bukahri: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622.

Allah wants the oppressed to know that they are loved and cherished. He is Al-Jabbar, the healer of broken hearts. He can, and I believe He will, help you in your journey back to wholeness. Reach out to Him, no matter what your situation or circumstance, and trust that He will support you and make a way forward for you even if it seems like there is none.

I pray that everyone who reads this finds their peace, their sense of wholeness, and their fitra as Allah intended it; and I pray that every one who is suffering from any kind of abuse finds the courage to seek help to escape it. Amin.

40 Responses »

  1. Jazakallah for this. It brings me a lot of comfort.

  2. Salam,

    This article gave me so much to reflect on but one thing I observe is that sometimes people tend to stay in unhealthy relationship thinking that its the will of God, its their trial to test their sabar (patience). For example in the situation of one of my friends who is suffering from an infidel husband got married without respecting her and even said so many bad words on her but try to say sorry or let her feel loved again and do the same thing. I hope you can also share article which will show the difference of a situation that needs patient and a situation that being patient is not the answer.

  3. being married for 20+yrs recently discovered husband homo as well as hetro finding difficult to live him have two kids pls advice

  4. respected,
    i want to ask that can wife and husband masterbate each other and can husband suck her wife,s brest

    • Asssalaam-hualaikum

      I am married for the last 17 years. My husband initially was wonderful, caring jolly and everything was good. He was under a huge stress in his business for a few years and this mental stress caused him to become paranoid. He developed delusional disorder and in now making my life a living hell as he refuses medication. I still love him but i am trying to be strong and stay for my kids sake. When you are emotionally abused your world becomes dull and alone and sad. Any dua that i can read to make him understand that he needs to take his medication. No family support as it is a stigma in our society to be diagnosed with a mind problem. Please advise

      thank you

      • You should make your staying predicated on his taking medication. So make it clear to him that unless he takes the medication, you will leave. There is no reason to suffer through a problem that is treatable.

        Wael Editor

  5. As most people see on here, parents are like this but unfortunately, you are always told to be good to them and I am not saying that's a bad thing because it's a command from Allah, however you do NOT need to live with your abuser no matter WHO they might be. People forget even though they are parents and Allah commanded us to be good to them, Allah is also YOUR Creator and He sees EVERYTHING and he knows the pain that you go through and EVERYONE is answerable to Allah for their actions. I have went through abuse at the hands of a parent and I left - there is just so much a person can take and Allah is my Witness. I feel so so much better now Alhamduillah, I dont hate myself anymore and I dont feel any hate in my heart anymore for them but I cant forget either, I am just so thankful Allah help me to get out, because if He had not said "Be" is would not have happened.

  6. Assalamu Alaykum,

    • Please register and submit your question as a separate post and we will answer you in turn, Insha'Allah.

      Wael Editor

      • Salam,

        Yes as I posted earlier I experience emotional abuse from my husband, and his family member. We end up because of his family as well as he cannot decide by his own and taking decision by his relatives decision, I inform him that sooner I will be consulting a lawyer to legally end our bond. I got converted into Islam 19/Nov/2015 and hes a Christian till now, I don't have any idea if he will convert just to make his black propaganda work. After what he did I don't have left for him at all, he abuse me and my whole clan. I want to end this up as what was explained to me I need to go to Ministry of Foreign affair and get my marriage cert stamped, after stamped it will then be translated to Arabic which Islamic Center lend a help to me. Do I need to get a lawyer to be sure I will win the case? I consulted 1 hes Filipino and he quoted me 25,000aed min to 38,000aed max (till case is finish).

        Please advise I need to start the action here in Dubai for divorce and do annulment in Philippines later.

  7. Ameen sum ameen

  8. My husband emotionally abuse me a lot,he uses foul words and harsh language on petty issues he scolds me and treats me like a slave, I tolerate it all with patience,but I get so disturbed when he asks me to Lick feets of his big brother and bhabhi who are so full of attitude and consider themselves rich and superior,whenever we go to their house they don't talk and ignore as if I don't exist and get busy in show off,my whole in laws are always picking their feets except me, I consider them nothing and try to keep myself away from them,...but he forces me and fights with me , he is so into them..I'm now so emotionally worn out that thinking of khula...even though my parents are not alive and my brothers are young, I know I will be miserable after khula , I am so depressed. ..

    • "I get so disturbed when he asks me to Lick feets of his big brother and bhabhi..."

      Do you mean this literally? If so, this is disgusting and completely haram. How filthy and un-Islamic.

      You say you will be miserable after khulah. But you are miserable now anyway.

      Wael Editor

      • ASAK,
        I am just asking as to what to do with Muslim alcoholic married son in denial and suicidal damaging both his feets with replacement of heel and toe surgeries. Having house wife and four kids. Having small biz which is now going down. And he and his family is in a big mess. He is not ready to go for treatment and no one can force him in USA unless he vlunteerly go for treatment. Parents are aged and dependent and mentally and physically sick. Also going through abuse of the son behaviour. Lost all families and friends and completely isolated. No resources also available except Allah swt.
        Asking advice with a request of dua.
        Appreciate reply confidentially or anonymously.

        • Momo7, there is very little you can do in this situation. It is up to the son to wake up and make the decision to reform. Perhaps you could try what is called an "intervention", where you gather all his family and friends to confront him together and make him see the consequences of his actions.


  9. My husbands brother slapped me twice and threw glass at me ehich cute my fingers and feet and I bleed. I told my husband to move out and not stay in the same home as his brother as I am afraid of him and do not want to live with him. My husband says it was wrong of his brother to do that but he will never leave his family for me but he can leave me for them. He threatens me that he will leave me if I don't fix my attitude with his brother. And his dad treats me bad too and tells his son to leave me if I won't give his brother respect. I don't respect his brother and I told my husband I just want my own space because even Islam allows me to have my space and he said no he will always stay with his brother and that he hates my family. I don't know what to do. Divorce is not option for me. Please advice on what I can do.

  10. As-Salam wu alaikum

    Ramadaan Kareem to all!

    I am with my husband for 11 years. Over the years there has been a lot of abuse that goes on towards me. More emotional and verbal than physical abuse. This has caused me create a rift between us, where I had started talking to other men. My husband recently found out about it and he hit me. I admitted to my wrong and I have conceded the fact that he will never look at me the same way.

    How can I fix things between us? Currently he is not speaking to me and I understand that this is entirely my fault but how much patience must one have in waiting for her husband to love her and respect her. For all the years that we together I had not done anything like this. This was the first time, but I cannot get him to talk to me. I am not staunch in my religion but I do believe in my Allah and I have faith in His power and His mercy.

    Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to get my husband back? I'm at a point where I will take all the harsh words and punches over his silence.

  11. I'm being emotionally abused and being asked to marry a cousin and I don't want to and I'm sure he doesn't want to either. My dad is a complete stubborn and extremist guy with bipolar and multiple personality issues. What should I do to keep the sadness , anxiety and depression at bay from me while I have to live with this. Also, since I am not getting permission to live alone what can I do to prevent myself from getting into depression due to my family /home situation?


    • You should make it very clear that you will not marry the cousin. Don't allow yourself to be forced into a marriage yo do not want. If you are being subjected to abuse at home, go ahead and move out, with permission or without it.

      Wael Editor

      • I'm in agreement with Wael. Tell them this is a marriage you have to run for the rest of your life even after they are dead and you don't feel you can run it. If they persist, warn them that this is causing mental issues for you and you need it to either stop or you need to get away from it. If they don't stop, you're not left with much choice other than moving out.

  12. What if it is your own parents? Who never appreciated you always put you down at home and outside? Never respected you or treated you as a separate entity? What to do in those cases? Its been happening since I was a kid and the importance of parenys especially mother is undisputed in Islam. It is even said that the dua made by those who are righteous to their oarents are always granted?

  13. I would like to ask a question about the situation of a 31 year old divorced woman with no kids.

    • As-salamu alaykum sister. Please register and submit your question as a separate post, and we will answer you in turn, Insha'Allah. My short answer to you in the meantime is that you should keep your business and stay where you are. When you have parents who are not truly looking out for your best interests, then you must do so yourself. And Allah knows best.

      Wael Editor

  14. Assalam o alikum
    emotionally abused since chidhood :'(
    I am a middle child and 4 days back i fought with my mother just because she does not love me till now she did not talk to me neither i
    what should i do ?
    Allah is also angry with me?
    i am so upset sometimes i want to do suicide nobody believes that my mother is wrong.

    • I guess to please Allah, you have to be nice to your mother... Pls make dua to Allah, and try to make things work out for HIS sake..
      to be bad to parents is a major sin in our religion..

      • Salam,

        I don't think being rude to parents is considered a major sin. What gives you the impression that it is? Also I don't think it's good for a mother to ignore her child it leaves the child with issues. Anyway, if you know why it's a major sin please let me know. Thanks.

    • I appreciate this comment was written a while back but I just wanted to leave my 2 cents worth for any new readers.

      Whilst our parents are our biggest blessings and it is stated in Islam that paradise lies beneath our mothers feet. There are psychological issues in humans that can make people bad parents. This idea that parents cannot harm their children because of this sacred parent-child bond does not always hold true. There are plenty of narcissistic parents out there and as a result some children can suffer under narcissistic abuse which can leave them scared and emotionally abused.

      It is worth reminding parents especially from particular culture that children are also deserving of respect, therefore, we should treat them with respect and dignity when we speak to them

  15. plz give me new password by email I can not log in plz send me password. thanks

  16. Yes, you are absolutely right!

    I ended the emotional abuse by getting divorce. I decided to stop because he took me just like a slave or an animal (not a pet). I tried my best to leave my long nightmare. I moved. I cut off all connections which might connect me to him. I changed my phone number. I didn't give my phone number easily to friends. I didn't pick up unknown numbers. I thought I had been okay after 14 years passed by. Well, I avoid to leave home except for works but it looked fine for me.

    Last week I just realized that I had been living with effects of emotional abuse he gave me. It was an old friend of us (my ex and me) told me (in a chat group which I must join for my work) that he several times met my ex and had coffee with. I even didn't make a comment for this but at that day I couldn't sleep, I cried whole night, got sick without knowing why it happened. The next day, I got a bad dream to wake me up at midnight and run the rest day with tears.

    I didnt seek any help somewhere, I hid the fear just for myself. I can't tell friends or somebody else abt this. I pretend that I'm okay. It looks fine outside. At least, people say that I'm a strong woman with good attitude and a good mommy for my son. They think I'm fine but I now know I'm not.

    Today I'm still the same I was. I'm not sure I can live my life as I want to have, but I let it flow. I just ask Allah to help. But honestly, I have tears as I’m writing this.

  17. If you are getting emotionally abused by your parents and are restricted from going out or even meeting friends. Allah knows what i have been through, and now they are forcing me to be married. Its feel like a non ending cycle of abuse and if you are girl, its very difficult. I cant even get away from them. I feel so helpless, it feels like a curse then a blessing to be a girl. I dont know what to do anymore.

  18. This verbal abuse is going on with me from perfect strangers at work. People in my family say i cause the trouble when i respond to these people in like manner. I feel trapped because someone close to me tells me to go along with it, to tolerate it unless i am the problem. I have suffered this kind of verbal abuse from everyone in my family and outside world almost. They tell me look cannot you see that you are the problem . They say look at all the people you cannot get along with if you were a good person everybody will like you. They say i think i am higher than what i am supposed to be and that i need to make myself lower. I feel sadness when they say these things. This person who is telling me this us Muslim. He says he is saying this because he loves me.

    • Hi Joan,
      Your situation definitely sounds like emotional abuse. I am sorry that you are going through this, and that you are surrounded by unsupportive people who try to blame you for others' mistakes. May Allah help you out of this situation and protect you. You said "people in my family say I cause the problem when I respond to these people in like manner." I am assuming you mean they insult you or cause problems for you, and you respond back to their negative comments and insults in a similar manner. You are defending yourself, and that is a good thing. It does not sound to me that you are causing the problem, so I don't know why your family would say this to you. But then again, you did mention that they also give you verbal abuse, so that may be it.

      This person you are listening to sounds like someone you like and are close with. What he's saying is a big problem itself, so I would say distance yourself from him, because he is not helping you up, he is helping to destroy you with his words. Denying someone's experiences, and then telling them they are the problem is extremely invalidating, hurtful, and causes damage to the person. (Big hug) I am so sorry you are going through this.

      "They say I think I am higher than what I am supposed to be and that I need to make myself lower" - clear example of emotional abuse right there. Their perception of you is warped, and they are projecting that onto you. The thing is Joan, other people do not get to decide or tell you what YOU think of yourself. Only you get to decide that. And if you don't think of yourself as all high and mighty, then you do not, and for them to insist that you do indicates a problem on their side. Other people are giving you problems, and then instead of supporting you, they choose to tear you down, and tell you to "make yourself lower," and blame you for it. This is extremely wrong. Please protect yourself, shelter yourself, protect your self esteem and do internalize any more of these people's words and distance yourself from them, including the man you mentioned who is close to you. The fact that you said "I feel sad when they say these things" is a big sign that those words are toxic and meant to harm you.

      May Allah shield you from the strangers who are causing problems for you, and shield you from their negativity, ameen. May their intent to harm you only come back to hurt themselves. Please stay strong. I wrote a lot on here (sorry) but if you want to discuss this further, you can submit your problem as a question to post to the site, since this comment section wasn't really intended for this.

  19. Salaam. I need advice. I am in an emotionallying abusivemail marriage for almost 10 years with 2 children 5 years apart. my husband is a practising Muslim and good to everyone else except me. he doesn't value me and looks at me like I am worthless. Before we got married we were good friends but he change a week after the Nikah. He has not been intimate with me in all these years except for the 2 times I conceived and he moved to a separate bedroom and listens to khutbah of his phone even night in his room. We never talk and have never gone anywhere together as a couple. I have tried to seek divorce 2 times but he kept saying he'said still interested in the marriage. i kept hoping and praying he will change and maybe this is Allah testing my sabar (patience). plus i don't want my children to grow up in a broken home (although i know it's already broken and dysfunctional). recently he married an older christian divorcee woman who has now converted to Islam with 3 of her own children. they have one child together.I found out through third parties and confronted him. he confirmed it. I don't believe he is treating us fairly. he bought her a nice home and is not sleeping in a separate room there. what do I do?I keep trying to be strong and pray to Allah for guidance but it's clear my husband doesn't care about me and this has affected my self esteem over the years. whenever i try to discuss anything with him he belittles me saying 'i would have been surprised if you had said anything different'. I fear that we are teaching 'my' children the wrong things about islamic marriage and have told him as much. he has said no to counselling. what Ayats and hadiths can I use to show hime so that perhaps he can change. ps: I need your duas and prayers too as I have lost imaan over this period. I am now finding it difficult to perform salah. please help me

    • As-salamu alaykum sister. You've given us everything except the "why". This story doesn't quite make sense. He was kind to you before marriage then he suddenly changed one week later? What does he say about why he treats you this way? Haven't you discussed it?

      Please register and submit your question as a separate post, and give us more details, and we'll answer you in turn Insha'Allah.

      Wael Editor

      • Asalaam Alaikum Wael. .that exactly is the problem. I have asked several times and he says it isn't me it's him. he has refused to tell me why he treats me this way. he provides everything financially and I also have a good job so on the look of it externally all appears OK. I am the one suffering emotionally inside

  20. It has been of great help reading this article thank u so much.. . 🙂

  21. Can someone please look at my post? It has been over a year and still no one is answering my post? I thought waiting time was a few weeks or a month?

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