Dear Salma: Sexually Abused and Seeking Remarriage


Dear Salma,

I was (am) a naive (stupid) Muslim woman. I had a sort-of arranged marriage (not forced) . My husband started sexually brutalizing me immediately. He wanted intercourse multiple times a day and he would not take no for an answer. I tried my best to please him but I could not do it. He even forced himself on me when I had a yeast infection. Thank God for my very supportive family, who are still mad at me for keeping quite about it for 2 months. They immediately helped me get out of the marriage. The threat of legal action against my husband kept him quiet and cooperative in divorce.

Due to his abuse, I have a condition known as Vaginismus, where my muscles contract themselves so tightly that I can feel the spasms in my pelvic area. I lived with the pain for a long time, which medication has controlled. Long term physiotherapy and psychotherapy helped a lot. Now, the only issue remaining is that if I remarry, it would take a long time for me be comfortable with my husband. My muscles contract when they perceive something coming towards me and intercourse will be painful, if not impossible.

I am in a classic Catch-22 situation here. The only way for me to get better is to be in a loving relationship and, as a Muslim woman, I will not be in a relationship without marriage.

My question is: how can I explain this to potential suitors? Somebody was interested in me and he proposed. I told him that before I accept, I needed to tell him something. When I explained my issue, he said he would call me back. He then sent me a text stating that he could not handle it, bye bye.

Was I wrong to tell him? Now I’m also living in shame and fear that he knows something very private about me and he can spread rumors about me in the Muslim community. I feel that I am being punished for being a principled Muslim and open and honest about my situation.

Please advise me,


Dear Anonymous,
It saddens me to hear your story, which unfortunately, is the story of many women who find themselves in abusive relationships then have to live with the long-term consequences of the abuse. I am glad to hear your family is supportive and that you have received appropriate treatment and care. And the dilemma you are facing is not an easy one. 
I completely understand your fears that your very personal information might be spread in the community, especially given the very sensitive nature of telling someone you have Vaginismus. At the same time, you have nothing to be ashamed of . You sustained an injury from living in a torture zone. This injury is not your fault by any means. And the only ones who should be ashamed are those who inflict this and other types of injuries with their abusive behavior, and those who would blame the injured party rather than the perpetrator.
And you are absolutely right that you have to be transparent in sharing any details about yourself that will impact your spouse and the marital relationship. May Allah swt reward you for doing the right thing. In order to protect yourself, you may need to time the disclosure once you have already ascertained that the person you are considering for marriage is the right person for you.
I would recommend taking your time to get to know someone and trying to gauge whether he is a person who can empathize with you  and understand the situation. You could raise the issues of domestic violence or share a story about sexual abuse from an article or website and see how he responds. You can tell a lot about a person from this response. Are they blaming the victim or the perpetrator? Are they angry with the perpetrator, disgusted, saddened? You can also have discussions that are hypothetical as part of the getting to know each other process. You can make up many scenarios, one of them being, “how would you feel if your spouse has an illness that would require your care or involvement to heal? What is your wife developed a disease that limited her ability to engage in intercourse?”  Or “I’ve heard of men walking away when a woman has a problem with intimacy due to being abused earlier in her life.” And see how he responds. In this way, you get a sense of what kind of person you are dealing with long before you disclose your very personal information.
There are many questions you can use and adapt in Before You Tie the Knot: A Guide for Couples. I would also suggest that anyone you are considering for marriage read the sections on domestic violence throughout the book and for you to discuss those sections with him. Many people simply need to be educated; others are not open at all. Having these discussions will help you determine what kind of person you are talking to. 
There are men who are understanding, kind, and willing to be compassionate partners. Finding the right person may take a lot of patience and trusting in Allah to bring that person forward to you. May Allah reward you for what you have endured and overcome, and may He bless you with the right partner who will treat you with the love and respect that you deserve.


Salma Elkadi Abugideiri
Licensed Professional Counselor
8233 Old Courthouse Rd, Suite 340

(Photo Source: marie-ll)

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