Disclaimer: FEM does not encourage anonymous contributions, but we have decided to publish this piece anonymously in order to protect the identity of the author, considering the danger when victims of sexual assault speak out about their experiences.
People ask me what I “feel” right now. And the scary part is that I don’t know.
I don’t know what I feel. I mean there are wads of emotions that come across my mind—anger, sadness, frustration, betrayal.
But overall: I feel empty. I feel robbed and now empty from my innocence, my naïve-ness, my love of community.
Even from the beginning I had not had a say in what I would or would not do.
He assured me that he wouldn’t touch me, that he respected me, that we would do things the “right way.”
And the truth is, he lied. He promised me we wouldn’t touch—something he fulfilled for one year until he changed.
For months, I listened to him, trusted him, and gave him my own trust. I believed that he would respect me and treat me as a woman.
We were “talking,” the fake Muslim word for “dating” but in a more serious way indicating future marriage.
I made it clear I never wanted sexual contact.
I told him repeatedly in full confidence that he would respect this request.
And this I realized when the man I am currently seeing looked at me and asked to simply touch my hand.
“Why would you ask to touch my hand?” I asked him in awe.
“Because only a shithead would not ask to touch a woman…” he told me, confused.
These were one of the moments when I felt like retching.
Retching from the disgust that sometimes feels like is wedged into my throat. The feeling when the ability to throw up is just not there but in want.
Over time, his kisses turned into things I never wanted. Touches and movements that my fingertips tried to escape but failed to do so.
“Stop…” I told him, my hands pushing his away.
“Shah….” He told me as he grabbed my hips.
And I remember the word RAPE blazing across my forehead as if in neon lights.
And I ask myself what happened then. What did I rationalize?
The truth is, I was afraid. I tried to think, “Nothing will happen.” I panicked and was afraid that a Muslim man, known as a pious man, was committing rape. No, it couldn’t be rape.
Over months, I brainwashed myself.
It was my fault because I kissed him.
It was my fault because I had desire.
It was going to be OK — we were in a relationship on track to marriage, even though he didn’t tell anyone for 6 months.
It was normal — this is what a relationship was.
He was a guy — he had needs.
And now I remember the ways in which he physically forced me to comply, forced me to obey, and the nausea overcomes me.
I had only realized he had sexually assaulted me a year after I broke up with him and refused to think about him all the while.
When I begged him not to touch me, he would grow angry, telling me that we were going to get married and that this is what married couples did.
How does a Muslim woman become silenced about her own assault by valued Muslim community members?
My insides twisted and burned.
My sexual assault twisted the views of pious Muslim women and men.
So whose fault was it?
Was it mine for staying, for picking him, for believing him?
Was it my communities for pushing me into a quick relationship for marriage out of some fear of “sinning” which happened to me anyways?
Was it him for being messed up in the head?
I don’t know who to believe anymore but looking at the faces of people in my community makes me sick.
When I think of all the people who excitedly told me to get engaged soon, all the people who were “proud” that I decided not to sin by talking about marriage, I want to leave my religion.
And the truth is, I would have left my religion had I not truly believed in God and my Messenger.
I was assaulted by a man of my own community and my own community denied me the peace of comfort, acceptance, and release.
And I somewhat feel tortured by these images of his force, his hands on me as I cried out in hopes he would let me go.
I don’t know what to do with myself, with the facts that I was assaulted.
And then as I talk to women, stories of other sexual assaults in the Muslim community come out, making me more sick and nauseous.
How sick this is.
That our stories are too hard to read, too controversial to accept, and yet we claim that we are oppressed?
We claim that we are oppressed by the white powers and yet, our own self-systems of oppression silence the very words that could free us from the torments that we carry.
We claim to want the freedom of speech and yet, when the freedom of speech ruins the images we do not wish to see within ourselves, we silence the words with false promises of futuristic opportunities.
The fact that I was assaulted by the member of my own community will never come to the ranks of importance when in comparison to the problems of the Middle East. And this is a fact.
The fact that I was lied to, manipulated, and abused will never be brought up by a religious discourse or jummah because simply the topic is taboo.
“Muslims shouldn’t date because it leads to sin.”
And now when I hear this, I want to cry because of its lies. Because of its silence.
I didn’t date: I told my family, I made things publically official. I planned engagement, a wedding, everything. And in all my fury to get married, I was assaulted. Out of the fear of social stigma, disbelief, and the prospect of “sin,” I nearly married the man who assaulted me.
I’m tired of the black and white photos painted of “sin” and “not sin” — the truth is, nobody knows the grey lines and guessing about the grey lines leads people to be placed in situations that are dangerous and potentially killer.
I am Muslim, covered, and a Feminist: and I was still sexually assaulted.