The Domestic Abuse Diaries – The Baby Food

2 peppers, 1 courgette, a red onion and a large aubergine…

Finally, something more interesting to make besides pureed carrots and sweet potato.

Today was batch cooking day. My son was napping and I planned to use this time wisely. I had my Annabel Karmel book open on the counter, and three trays full of sliced vegetables, ready for roasting.

My husband enters the open plan living room and kitchen and settles down in front of the TV. It’s his day off and he chats to me as he grabs the remote control and channel hops. 

At one point he says something so unreasonable and unable to bite my tongue, I reply in a mildly sarcastic tone “yeah ok, if you say so…”

All of a sudden, he locks eyes with me and then bounds towards me, jumping over the makeshift barrier that I’d put up to prevent my son from crawling into the kitchen earlier. 

Within seconds he’s right up close to my face, breathing heavily and asking me menacingly to repeat what I just said. I stand there silently, not moving an inch. Then he prods my chin, once, twice, and asks me to say it again. It’s the first time he’s ever touched me aggressively and this is new territory; so I keep quiet. 

Unable to get a response from me, he looks down at the trays on the counter, picks them up and sends them flying, one by one, into the air. As they come crashing down onto the counter and the kitchen floor, I watch with shock as the 2 peppers, 1 courgette, a red onion and a large aubergine, all sliced thinly and neatly, land on the floor, the counter, behind the kettle and toaster and God knows where else.

I instantly burst out crying – what had my poor son done to deserve this? This food was for him and would have made a few days’ worth of meals. How could my husband lack such empathy that he sees no problem with ruining it all? 

Not content with throwing the trays about, my husband turns around and finishes taking out his anger on the kitchen bin. He kicks it over and over until dents emerge. Finally, he kicks my makeshift barrier out of the way and marches out of the room, and out of the house. 

Hardly able to see through my tears, and with my nose running, I crawl around on my hands and knees, bawling at what just happened, picking up the little pieces of food off the floor and throwing them into the now broken bin…

I call my sister sobbing and when she asks me what’s wrong, I tell her in Arabic that my husband is a ‘majnoon’ – i.e. someone who can’t control their anger.

Because that’s what this is right – he’s just someone with an anger problem…

He’s not abusive….

Is he?

Ptissem Abourachid
ptissem

Ptissem is a writer and an Inside-Out Relationship Coach, helping women in unhappy marriages, step up and make the changes that will allow them to lead happier and more fulfilling lives. www.ptissem.com Access her free online relationship webinar: https://www.ptissem.com/gift Facebook: @PtissemCoach Instagram: @ptissem.abourachid

12 Comments
  1. Isra

    December 28, 2018 11:02 am

    Hello, I truly am sorry you had to go through that and inshallah he never laid his hands on you in a violent manner and inshallah you all worked out your problems and are attaining a healthier marriage and lifestyle for the better ness of your son. May he see the worth of the family you all have. Yes it’s true we do call them majaneen when they are unable to express themselves and lash in such ways, but truly if we take time to understand (men, husbands) and spoke with them at a later time then maybe we will understand what exactly could be going through (stress, lack of sleep,). And if space is needed that’s okay for the both of you to take time and realize what’s important to you, one another, lovers, or not. Basically don’t be in a rush to label your relationship, have patience through it all. Beautiful patience and watch how Allah will guide you in the most beautiful ways throughout this confusing time, Subhanallah. Much love ?✌?

    • Emily

      December 28, 2018 1:10 pm

      I don’t think it’s a real story tho

    • Sara

      December 28, 2018 11:19 pm

      Abuse isn’t the same as being unable to express yourself.. please don’t compare the two.
      Sometimes I’m unable to express myself but I’ve never abused anyone in the process. I’ve also been stressed and tired again never abused anyone
      Please don’t make excuses for this behaviour

    • Sara

      December 28, 2018 11:20 pm

      Abuse isn’t the same as being unable to express yourself.. please don’t compare the two.
      Sometimes I’m unable to express myself but I’ve never abused anyone in the process. I’ve also been stressed and tired again never abused anyone
      Please don’t make excuses for this behaviour

    • L

      January 14, 2019 11:02 am

      @Emily – yes, it’s a real story. I’ve been following Ptissem’s work for some time and this is her personal story.

      @Isra – the couple has divorced, so there is nothing to ‘work out’ any more. I don’t think Ptissem was in a ‘rush’ considering she remained in the marriage for years and they had a child together. Islam does not tell us to remain patient even in the face of violence, and divorce is an option for a reason.

  2. Isra

    December 28, 2018 11:07 am

    I have a similar story that could have ended horribly sad if we had let it. I’d love to be able to share one day, how when you don’t react to violence and take control of your life by setting boundaries – a man wakes up! Snaps out of it and realizes ooo he messed up and his wife is the most precious jewel on earth. Inshallah goodness for all

  3. Rayan

    December 28, 2018 1:30 pm

    nope. domestic abuse is a recurring thing: if someone is stressed, there is absolutely no reason why they should take it out on their family. the writer isn’t in that situation anymore Alhamdulillah, but such behaviour can’t be brushed off or excused. abuse is abuse. most of the time, domestic abusers don’t just stop or ‘come to a realisation’.

  4. Amina

    December 28, 2018 3:31 pm

    Chances are someone in a situation like this will read this article and recognize themselves, so here are a few “tips” when in a relationship like the one described in the story:

    There’s nothing to understand about abuse, nor does it matter if the abuser “lays hands” on the victim. Most abusers are already displaying violence way before they check the “physical violence” box. Things such as controlling the money (i.e. taking the money if she works, or not allowing her to work, giving an “allowance,” etc…), emotional abuse (i.e. making her feel like she needs to walk on eggshells, everything and anything can set him off, etc), isolation (i.e. cutting her off her social circle, friends, family, making her break up friendships, etc.), and so on. Oh! And let’s not forget marital rape (NO means NO even if you’ve been married for centuries–and if the only reason you say yes is because you’re scared that angels will curse you overnight, well, that’s still coercion).

    Abuse increases over time both in frequency and severity. After each episode he will swear he’ll never do it again, that it was just a “mistake” (or in the case of this story just “go back to normal” as if nothing had happened) but truth is it will just escalate over time until he kills you.

    So, if someone in a similar situation is reading this, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. There’s nothing to understand. Domestic violence is NOT an illness, it’s a choice, and nothing justifies it–not the stress, not hours without sleep, not financial troubles, etc. It’s rooted in power and control–and it has definitely nothing to do with love. It’s a choice that finds justification in beliefs of superiority of men over women–and whether we want to accept it or not, there’s PLENTY of that in our community.

    SEEK HELP! Try to find an association that can help you where you are, equipped with professionals who can follow your case as well as help you make the best decision for yourself and your children if you have them. And whether you choose to leave or stay, you should at least have the information needed to make an informed choice.

    Domestic violence CANNOT be “prayed away” and in order to begin a path towards change, a perpetrator needs to first of all recognize their behavior and the fact that it is wrong, which most of the time they don’t even do (because according to them she’s “not a good wife”/”stresses me out”/”doesn’t understand me”/”doesn’t try hard enough” etc etc etc………). Sadly, many family/friends try to take this approach and ask the victim is there was something she “could’ve done” to prevent the abuse. UGH.

    If you have a friend/family member/etc please please PLEASE just BELIEVE THEM, listen to them and help them find community resources. Don’t ask them “why don’t you just leave” (it’s harder than it seems); *force them out* (they’ve had someone making every single decision for them, don’t re-victimize them); “inshAllah he will change, you just need to make more duas” (well, sorry but NOPE); “maybe if you didn’t behave like that/dress like that/talk to this or that person” (by “preventing” the abuse you’re suddenly placing responsibility on the victim and justifying the abuser); but most importantly don’t turn away, and let’s stop believing this is a “matter of husband and wife”! We definitely need more education on this topic in our community.

    (BTW I know all of this because I work at a domestic violence shelter–so it’s not me just making it up)

    • Sara

      December 28, 2018 11:16 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to leave such well informed advice.. so sad to see people still telling women to try harder, do more pray longer.

    • Ptissem

      January 1, 2019 11:02 am

      Thanks Amina, for such an informed reply. What you described is what I am trying to portray over the course of this series, how abuse develops slowly but surely from the very beginning, way before it ticks the physical violence box as you put it. It can happen so slowly that we easily become accustomed to the behaviour and it becomes our ‘normal’. We start to brush things under the carpet because we don’t recognise just how abusive the behaviour has become. Thanks for sharing your advice. Hopefully it’ll benefit anyone that may be experiencing something similar insha’Allah.

  5. Maya

    December 28, 2018 11:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing. This is exactly what my ex husband did to me. Throw the plate of food everywhere. Not caring that I prepared it for the family and whilst in pain. I left soon after. Homeless in a refuge with two young children. They don’t change. The violence just evolves from mental to physical to financial etc. Advice to anyone- get out if you can. Never look back. Not even your kids will appreciate that you stayed with a man who treated you so badly.

    • Ptissem

      January 1, 2019 11:15 am

      Alhamdulillah I’m glad you’re no longer in that situation. You’re totally right, they never change, even if it looks like they may have, the abuse has just changed course and will continue to occur. And we shouldn’t have to suffer unnecessarily at the hands of our husbands, that’s now what marriage is about. Sabr/patience in situations of domestic violence is not the advice that we should be giving to other women.

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