Q&A: My husband mentally abuses me. Should I be patient with him?

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Q: I’ve been married to someone for a few years. Sometimes he is alright, but sometimes he mentally abuses me. I do not know where to draw the line, whether I should get a divorce or not. Most of my friends tell me to stay with him and be patient with him.

A: It’s important to understand that most people who are abusive have been the victims of abuse at some point in their lives (emotionally, sexually, mentally etc.) If these things are not resolved, it becomes reproduced.

In Muslim cultures, there is an idea that you should have sabr (patience) and persevere in an abusive marriage. This is not the way of Prophet Muhammad salAllahualayhiwassalam. He said that only the worst of men would abuse a woman. He never hit a child, woman, or animal. He also said that we should help the oppressed and the oppressor. We should help both of them, but we should still stop the oppressor.

We as a community are responsible for stopping the oppressor. If you’re silent about it because you want to preserve his reputation, you are responsible for it. When I say community, I mean first and foremost the family.

I would first advise this woman to reach out to the family to help stop the oppressor from abusing her. If the family is not helpful, she should reach out to the faith community. If the faith community isn’t helpful, she should go to non-profit organizations, take legal action, contact the police, do whatever you have to do to remove yourself from that environment where you’re being harmed.

You’re not being pious or righteous by allowing yourself to be treated this way. If you really want to be loyal, you should show him the folly of his actions.

This question was answered by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes at a public lecture in May 2016 entitled “Confronting Evil: Where is God in All This?