A Reflecting Arab Muslim Girl From Around the Corner

Monday, August 23, 2010

Why didn't it stop?

My time-lines and chronology will invariably be a bit off...but, I'm trying to recall events exactly in the order I remember them occurring.

I had a diary with me...a few years into the relationship...and I remember writing about the beginning.  In it, I recounted honestly that for the first three times we met (as a 'couple' that is) - from that first hug, to a hug and a peck, to a more intimate five-minute holding session - I enjoyed the idea of the relationship. I was experiencing what being an 'adult' was all about..and I was with a man that cared for me. Plus, my rationale for it being okay was that my clothes were always on.

But, sooner than later...and in ways I can not recall...the physical part of the relationship escalated.  I battled internally. I knew this wasn't right, but I didn't understand why he didn't think it was wrong. I felt upset that I couldn't tell my friends about it, but felt special at the same time because being with him felt good...I felt mature. I often cried myself to sleep in confusion.

Part of the confusion was that our relationship was not dominated by the physical.  He was also a mentor, a teacher, a friend to hang out with..he would engage in long discussions with me about politics, Islam and the empowerment of women. He also spent money on me and bought me my favorite things. When people were around, he was still his jolly friendly self; everyone knew we got along, just not how much we got along. There was no chance for anyone to suspect that there was a bigger story behind our very obvious good relationship. 

In my prayer I would turn to God and cry about how confused I was. I would weep sometimes.  But, no matter how much I knew something was not right, I didn't know how to stop it...but, I also did not know whether I wanted it to stop. Till one day.

He told me about something he wanted to try someday. At first I was intrigued by the idea. But then, my guilt overwhelmed me and I decided to write him a letter.

"I appreciate that you care," I wrote, "I appreciate all that you have done for me, but this can not go on any longer. It is not right. We are doing something haraam. And we have to stop".  As I wrote those words, weights seemed to be lifted of my young thirteen year old shoulders. I was proud of myself, and I knew I was doing the right thing.

A few days after I gave the letter to him, I saw him again. He was visibly upset. He explained that he does not understand why he feels this way about me and he feels disgusted when he thinks of how young I am and what has become of our relationship...but, he explained that he doesn't understand why he cannot stop himself from feeling the way he does about me.  The feeling is too strong, and too genuine, he explained to me.  I might be thirteen in numbers, but my mind was that of a thirty year old.

We can stop this, he told me, but that means I will not be able to see you anymore. No more phone calls and no more rendezvous.  We must entirely be cut off...and if ever we were to cross paths somehow, we would not be able to talk, and he would leave. "And don't be surprised when you see me quiet and not talking.  I am respecting your wishes and it will not be easy for me.  It is going to be very hard. I will be walking but dead," he said.

Rather than an acceptance for my appeal to end the relationship, I was made to feel as if I was being unreasonable, too uptight, and unfair...and that if I pushed for things to really stop, my whole world would change.  He would excommunicate me out of his life. I was torn.

But the subtle coercion got to me and like three times to follow before the final mutual decision to end the relationship years later, I decided that things should not change.  This time, I rationalized my decision to stay with him by asking myself an innocent question, "if he is out of the picture, who is going to buy me all the packs of gum?".

Yes. Chewing gum. That was all it took.  So, was it abuse?


  1. Even if he hadn't been that much older than you, even if you hadn't been a child, I would label this behaviour abusive. He's trying to emotionally blackmail you into giving in. I was in a relationship like that, with a Muslim guy also. We had ended up sleeping together, then I converted to Islam and wanted to stop until we were married. He told me that in that case, he would no longer hug me, hold my hand, or even talk to me privately, because that would be haraam. So in the end I gave in. Because I didn't want to make trouble. Because I wanted to feel loved.

    But that doesn't make the behaviour right. It is emotional abuse. It is threatening you (threats don't have to be of physical violence) that he will remove his love and affection if you don't do as you're told. It is abuse. Even more so because you were just a child.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story Becky. I am sorry that you had to experience this. May Allah continue to strengthen you. I agree...it is emotional abuse.