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5 Things To Do If Your Partner Discloses He/She Was Sexually Abused As A Child

You may have just been told by your partner that he or she was sexually abused in childhood. You may have been suspecting this for a while. The world, as you know it, is reeling, and worse, you may know, and even like, the perpetrator, if it was a family member.

 Remember that you must see your partner’s disclosure in a positive light: she (for ease of reading, the feminine pronoun will be used from now on although this article applies as much to men as to women) is entrusting you with a very private part of her life. It may make her feel vulnerable, insecure and/or frightened. What should you do to honour that trust and help in the healing journey?
1. Believe in your partner

Let her know that you believe and love her, and that nothing has changed between the two of you. Validate the damage that the abuse has left on your partner. Do not minimise the abuse, and/or take the side of the abuser. Your partner has grown up in an environment of mistrust, particularly if the abuser was a beloved relative or family friend. If you minimise the experience, your partner’s fears will be strengthened. Do not push for details, especially the sexual ones. Even if your partner had responded sexually and/or did not protest, be clear that it is still never the child’s fault. It is the responsibility of the adult not to abuse a child.

 2. Listen well

This sounds simple but in your rush to demonstrate sympathy, you may unwittingly drown out your partner’s voice. Validate her anger, fear and pain. Do not interrupt with your own feelings. If the abuser was a member of her family, she may have mixed feelings about the abuse and may blame herself. Let your partner know that you are there for her, and that you are open to listening to anything that she has to say, no matter how difficult or painful.

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Zakat eligibility of The FYI

The Family & Youth Institute, or The FYI, is a well-known Muslim organization in the United States. It works to promote mental health and wellness by strengthening and empowering individuals, families, and communities through research and education. It has been working for many years to bring Islamic perspectives to understanding and promoting mental health in our communities.

It is dedicated to serving and supporting Muslims – safeguarding our deen, our families, and our future generations. Therefore, the work of The FYI comes in the category of ‘fi sabeelillah’ or the Path of Allah, within the eight categories where Zakat money can be used.

Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah, and for the [stranded] traveler – an obligation [imposed] by Allah, And Allah, is Knowing and Wise.”
(Al-Tawbah 9:60)

According to scholars who widen the meaning of fee sabeelillah to include any activities that promote Islamic growth, The FYI is indeed eligible to receive part of the Zakat funds for its programs and services. I urge Muslims in America to support this organization through their donations, general charity, and through their Zakat. I ask Allah swt to strengthen and guide The FYI to continue its good work in supporting Muslims.

Shaikh Ali Suleiman Ali, PhD

About Shaikh Ali

Sh. Ali Suleiman Ali was born in Ghana where he spent his childhood studying with various Muslim scholars. He then moved to Saudi Arabia and enrolled in the Islamic University of Madina.  He graduated with a degree in both Arabic and Islamic Studies. Dr. Ali went on to complete his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Sh. Ali serves on the Advisory Council of The Family & Youth Institute. He is the Senior Imam and Director of the Muslim Community of Western Suburbs in Canton, Michigan. Additionally, he serves as the Director of Muslim Family Services in Detroit and is a council member of the Fiqh Council of North America (FCNA). He is also a member of the North American Imams Federation (NAIF) and the Association of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA).