Many people avoid talking about sexual harassment because it is a sensitive topic. Muslim women face difficulties sharing their stories of abuse and harassment because they are influenced more by their culture and society than by Islam. Islam considers such acts grave sins that Allah does not forgive. Zina (fornication) is an evil act that involves many vices, and when it is done by force (ightisab), it is even worse. Islamic law prescribes a severe punishment for this crime, which is the same as for zina or more. The legal punishment is to stone to death the married person who committed illegal sex.
Ightisab is a very serious crime because it harms the victim not only physically but also mentally. The mental pain is harder to deal with. Sometimes our loved ones do not understand what we are going through, and we feel alone. No one should go through that. But remember: “Allah does not impose on a soul more than it can bear.”
Do not lose hope; Allah’s help is near. Keep reciting “Allaahumma inni a’oodhu bika min al-hamm wa’l-hazn wa’l-‘ajz wa’l-kasal wa’l-bukhl wa’l-jubn wa dala’ al-dayn wa ghalbat al-rijaal.” “O Allah, I seek refuge with You from distress, sadness, weakness, laziness, stinginess, fear, the pressure of debt, and from being defeated by men.” [al-Bukhaari, 6008] and Insha’Allah, it will calm your heart.
The way society and culture treat sexual assault survivors and the support they get from others affect them. Sexual assault can be very traumatic for a person. It can lead to different symptoms, such as initial shock, anger, anxiety, self-blame, and hyper-awareness. Thinking too much, feeling numb, and isolating oneself may be lasting symptoms. It is not rare to have problems with intimacy after a sexual assault.
What to do?
Ask for help from your family, as they are supposed to protect you (al-Bukhaari 2554 and Muslim 1829). It is hard to do, but you have to be brave and tell them. Speak up for yourself because keeping quiet will not make the pain disappear; it only allows the wrongdoer to harm other people.
If your family and friends do not support you even after you have asked for help, then you have to take care of yourself. In that situation, you are accountable for yourself and your religious commitment. It is a big and difficult task, but you have to defend yourself. Be modest and avoid mixed gatherings. When I say “be modest,” I don’t mean it was your fault.
“And no soul will bear the burden of another.” Quran 35:18
It was never your fault in the first place, and Allah knows your situation, and He also knows that you respect modesty, hate indecency, and try hard to avoid fitnah. With Allah’s will, He will grant you a reward that is plentiful and perfect, without any gaps.
Be patient and careful of how you react. In this regard, we can learn from the story of Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him). Zulaikha, the wife of the Egyptian king, had sexually harassed him, but he showed no anger, no wish for revenge, and he did not create panic in society. Even after being unjustly imprisoned, he kept his cool, was truthful in his speech, and had a lot of patience.
Following the principles of Islam
Men and women should be taught about the importance of lowering their gaze and avoiding touching those who are not lawful for them.
It is good to be reminded not to mingle with the opposite gender freely or be alone with people who are not mahrams. We must always remind people that zina includes more than just sexual intercourse.
How to deal with groping in public?
Avoid going to crowded places, especially if they have mixed gatherings. But if you find yourself in any of these situations, try to get help right away. Scream, shout, rebuke, and make a fuss out of it so everyone knows what has happened. Yes, this is very much allowed and is the most realistic advice you can get. Do not keep silent; it just gives your abuser the confidence to continue such things.
How to recover from the trauma?
When something as horrible as a sexual assault happens, the survivor feels alone. As a result, it’s common to feel ashamed about what happened and not want to share it with anyone. It can be hard to think about or talk about the experience.
Creating safety and trust can be a good way to start. It can be talking to a dependable person, doing something that gives one a sense of control, or engaging in fun and safe activities. Try to understand your life; do not succumb to trauma. Read the Quran and the daily adhkar. Don’t ask, ‘Why me?” When facing tragedy and hardship in a world where it seems like you suffer more than others, this question is easy to ask. It comes to mind as quickly as basic arithmetic. Try not to overthink your situation.
Islam is not just a religion; it’s a complete set of ethical rules for each person and the whole human race that fully covers all aspects of healthy physical and mental well-being. Follow Islam, and it will help you feel secure, peaceful, and positive about life while also taking into account all of human reality.
It’s normal to feel powerless, lonely, numb, or unable to remember details of what happened if you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual assault. Know that it wasn’t your fault; there isn’t anything more you should or could have done to make things different. It may be hard to talk about what happened, but try not to cut yourself off from others completely. Connect with those you can trust and seek help. Remember that you are not alone.
Allah Azwajal knows your situation, so turn to him with your pain. You are stronger than you think. Just have patience (sabr) and keep your faith (imaan) strong. You are not alone in this situation. Remember, Allah loves you the most, and Allah would never leave you alone to suffer. Seek his guidance.