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8 tips if you are a victim of domestic violence in a non-Western country
by Sound Vision's staffwriter
Domestic violence is not a phenomena restricted to a particular ethnic, cultural, religious or geographic group. It is a problem in almost all societies at varying levels, whether it is the most industrialized nations or the poorer ones.
While resources which help women and men deal with domestic violence are greater in industrialized nations, individuals in Third World countries can also break out of the domestic violence cycle in other ways.
Here are some tips:
1. Know this is not Islamic
This knowledge is your most powerful ally against those who justify wife abuse.
There is no doubt that physical abuse of wives at the hands of their husbands is unacceptable Islamically. Remember that the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) was married 38 years of his life and never hit his wives.
2. Find the resources available to you and evaluate your options
Which family member can you stay with? Or if not a family member, is there a friend? Or is there a women's center or shelter where you and your kids could safely escape from the domestic violence? If any of these options are available, you need to make a protection plan (see next tip).
Consider all of the options and the well-being of yourself and your children. In most cases, your family will probably be the best place to escape to for a while. The advantage of going to a family member is that they may also be able to effectively intervene and can help resolve the situation. But in other families, this may not be the case. You know your situation, so take into account all of the factors when deciding how to handle this.
3. Develop a protection plan
Make sure you have basic documents handy with you in case you have to leave due to an emergency-birth certificate, health information, citizenship papers, identity cards, etc. of you and your children
4. Remember: abuse is repetitive
Know that if a man has abused his wife once, he will do it again. Don't be fooled during the "honey moon period". This is a period where the man will be very loving towards his wife after a beating and be very sorry. After this period, however, tension will begin to build and once again, he will abuse his wife and/or children in another incident.
5. Find a sympathetic friend or family member
Sometimes the hardest thing to find is someone who will listen to your problems in a respectful and open-minded way. Look for such a person amongst family members and friends. You don't have to ask them to open your doors to you in case of an emergency right away. They just need to listen.
6. Ask a family member to intervene
Ask a trustworthy male, preferably a father, uncle or older brother to intervene and gently speak to your husband. If they refuse to listen to you, at least you have tried to solve the problem within the family before going outside.
7. Form a support group
The only people who may trust and believe what you are saying about your suffering is someone else who is going through it herself. Form an informal support group of women suffering from domestic violence. Whether this group meets at your home, someone else's home, calls each other on occasion or meets at a center, this group will at least be a place where women can share the pain and gain some sympathy if they are not ready to deal with the abuse in their homes on a more concrete level.
8. Try to get an authority figure to talk about wife abuse
Try to contact an Imam or authority figure in the community to talk about this issue openly, whether it is in a religious sermon, a television program, a radio program, a weekly newspaper column or other mediums. By bringing the topic out in the open, the problem can begin to be addressed.
9. Lobby your government
Lobby your government, with the help of others, to provide more resources for victims of domestic violence and to put in place stricter punishments for wife abusers. Also, lobby for more education programs for families to support them through the suffering, and to educate men about how wrong it is to abuse your wife and children.
------Some relevant resources:
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