Domestic abuse. Narcissistic abuse. Realisations which were horrendously difficult for me to accept and yet I had to acknowledge in order to move forward. What was new is that I now realise that there is a name to this heinous act and that I have been abused by a narcissist and none of this is my fault.
I thought I’d started to heal. I thought I was half way there. I was making steadfast progress, but then you do as a believer. I mistook this progress as ‘on the road to recovery’.
Only recently a year and a half later An overwhelming surge of sadness overcame me as I curled up in a foetal position and cried. I felt my heart splitting into two. With jagged edges the grief stabbed at me mercilessly.
Despite having three children back to back, I recall how I spent so many of my days feeling incredibly alone and confused about my situation. Tidal waves of negative emotion flushing through me, conflicting in my head; I questioned my sanity. I didn’t have any answers, yet I knew I felt a sense of utter doom. Daily arguments and weekend battles, kept me running in a circle, jumping from one distortion to another, never accomplishing anything other than adding more grief, more perplexities to an already baffled state of mind.
What I believed was love, was in reality psychological abuse that rendered me feeling worthless and disabled – psychological damage that was inflicted on me.
I’d never doubted myself as much as I did during my marital years. As a victim of narcissistic abuse, I was frequently uncertain of myself, constantly seeking clarification that I hadn’t made a mistake or even misheard. This reaction was because the perpetrator always pointed the finger and shifted blame upon me for all the turmoil in the relationship. I was constantly forced to accept responsibility for things I didn’t do or say. This humiliation and shame was exactly what he intended. A crazy-making mind, already divided and conquered within itself, was his most vulnerable target. And an abusive technique called ‘Gaslighting’.
Gaslighting – “…is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or members of a group, hoping to make targets question their own memory, perception, and sanity.”
This psychological abuse was used to instil confusion and anxiety to the point where I no longer trusted my own memory, perception or judgment. At the beginning, I would notice that something would happen that was peculiar. When brought to his attention, the perpetrator would manipulate me by suggesting that I was ‘crazy’. Broken and unable to trust myself, I became dependent on his reality. The exhaustion I experienced during my marital years is beyond words. I was depleted and chronically feeling empty. I was desperate to find answers, answers which would help me to just understand what was going on. I was beginning to completely lose my mind and questioned my sanity almost every day. All of this was the result of direct trauma from narcissistic abuse. I recall asking out loud: How do I fix this? How do I move forward? Who do I turn to? I didn’t even know what was happening to reach out to the world.
The night in which he beat me ‘street-style’ was the night he left the family home. With all of our official documents – passports to birth certificates to health cards and everything in between, the man I had married never returned. Little did I know was that his departure was my eventual ticket to freedom. It was a night where the shackles on my hands and on my feet were broken to release me. I didn’t come to realise this until much later, until I was officially divorced.
NZF is the first charity in the UK to set up dedicated housing projects for Muslim women in London, Birmingham and Manchester. Qualified support workers deliver emotional, spiritual and practical support to the residents who are eligible for Zakat and help them cope with any difficulties they are facing.
Part 2: The Perpetrator
The case study is a first hand account written by a Zakat recipient. The opinions expressed and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the National Zakat Foundation.