Today, I feel that I was a victim to the most subtle coercion. But it was coercion. I didn’t know any better at that time. And no one even noticed that I was living this big secret. I was happy, excelled at school and was popular and loved. At that time, my moments of confusion were masked…sometimes even to myself.

The remarkable Arab Muslim blogger, Neighborhood Muslimah, recently launched her new blog and introduced herself to me. She’s writing in a terribly raw and open manner, discussing her own experience with sexual abuse in order to open a dialogue she feels is missing from the Muslim community.

I’m looking forward to seeing her blog develop. A forum for Muslim victims of sexual abuse is needed. Like any abuse situation, there are too many cultural trappings and religious power struggles that are used to justify the abuse — and for some Muslim women, finding support within the Muslim community (or cultural community) is impossible.  Many turn to non-Muslim sources for help, and while this support is immeasurable in helping women escape abusive situations, few can offer the Islamic religious guidance that might be needed to help heal scares left by a tainted religious experience.

If you are able, give Neighborhood Muslimah a visit.

When I lived in Montreal, I volunteered with the Amal Centre for Women. At that time it was simply a group of women who gathered food, clothes and each other to help support women in need. We would visit local (non-Muslim) shelters to provide lectures on the Islamic belief system that workers may be dealing with when Muslim women came to their shelters — and directed them toward specific Islamic supports that a Muslim woman may want or require for herself and her children (such as halaal food, a prayer rug, a Qur’an, supportive and safe ties to the community).  Today I am very happy to see how far they’ve come, and how much Amal is doing for the community through their good works, and new centre!