Domestic Abuse: What You Need to Know (Podcast)

“This is not a Muslim issue, this is everywhere. But, we need to seriously address this issue…There needs to be an awareness of working together.”

“This is not a Muslim issue, this is everywhere. But, we need to seriously address this issue…There needs to be an awareness of working together.”

On this week’s TMV Podcast, Cheif Editor Salim Kassam speaks to Canadian psychotherapist and counsellor Berak Hussain on domestic abuse and everything you need to know about a topic that is often labeled as ‘taboo’, and why the Muslim community must step up with this issue.

Listen to the full podcast below:

Or watch the conversation on TMV’s Podcast Channel on YouTube below:

With the rise of domestic abuse cases during COVID-19 lockdowns, Berak reminds us that the issue of domestic abuse must be at the forefront of our community concerns – especially when there can be such a lack of support for those fleeing from homes of abuse.

Explaining what domestic abuse entails, Berak lists off some common signs, including controlling someone, making them feel isolated, as well as emotional and even religious abuse. The victims are often in a position where they are being manipulated and abused so they feel the need to constantly please the abuser in order to survive – making it even more difficult to get out of this cycle of abuse.

There are many reasons why those in abusive relationships feel compelled to stay as well, including love, a sense of shame for leaving and potentially breaking up a family, and being financially dependent. But this, explains Berak, is why the community must step up and offer not only moral support but financial and mental support for those trying to leave these horrifying situations.

We need to as a community support them, especially financially. This is not a Muslim issue, this is everywhere. But we need to seriously address this issue.”

Not shying away from how the Muslim community is lacking in terms of protecting those most vulnerable, Berak highlights the point that too often women (or men who are abused) go to community leaders and are told to be patient or are reminded on the religious aspects of how divorce must be avoided – often with deadly results.

Berak spoke of one story of a Somali woman in Ottowa who fled her abusive husband – but without any community or financial support, was forced to return to her husband. The woman, along with her children, were later all murdered by the husband.

So many times when you go a sheikh or community leader, we always hear ‘be patient’. This is not what we need to hear.”

Later in the podcast, Berak also goes through a possible safety plan for those who have decided to leave their abusive homes – explaining that “when all else fails, its time to think of a safety plan”. Part of the plan includes being smart and putting emotions aside for now, as the person must get into survival mode. The victim must also plan on where they are going to go and research into where or who can help provide shelter. They must try and collect evidence of the abuse, while making sure to hide it or delete it from the abuser seeing any of this. Finally, when planning how to leave, the victim must try and keep it minimal and make sure to turn off GPS on their phones right after leaving the house. Once safe, Berak explains, you must immediately call the police.

While this may seem like an extreme scenario, Berak highlights the point that domestic abuse must be taken seriously – even with societal or religious pressures, no one is required to stay in an abusive relationship – no matter what family or parents might say.

To listen to the rest of the podcast, click below: