Thank you so much! <3 Everyone who replied to this post has been a crucial part of supporting me towards the realization that independence and moving out are the only options if I really want to live an authentic life. And I should be grateful I even have those options for escape in this country.
I'm sorry to hear about the kind of things your dad picked on. There are certain things my dad doesn't take issue with, because he sees them as practical necessities, eg: mortgages, student loans, etc, and he even listens to some of our cultural music on long drives, although it's the very clean kind. He generally hates modern pop lyrics/romantic songs which sound very sensual or direct. But he would admit that those indulgences are Islamically 'wrong' and explain that he doesn't feel any 'fakhr'/pride in those choices. Whereas me trying to justify my position re: hijab would be seen as arguing pridefully with my Creator and therefore not only be a 'sin' in his eyes, but also a sin committed arrogantly.
He does take issue with other things, though. He doesn't like us watching TV shows on laptops or mobile devices, for example, as he can't monitor them as easily as if we were watching them in front of him (my brother and I are both in our twenties.) I'm not open with him about the things I'm reading, either, as I feel he might try to stop me reading some of it... I remember in secondary school he used to confiscate the free newspaper my brother and I would get from the bus because there were 'adult' things in it. (Noo it was not The Sun page 3 hahah... It was the Metro. But the articles were about the real world, which includes a passing mention of sex sometimes, whether in relation to lawsuits or court cases or sexual health news or a weekly relationship advice column or elsewhere. I can't remember exactly what my dad took offence to.)
When I was much younger, we went to the library, and he once flipped randomly through some of the books I'd picked out for reading. The titles and blurbs passed inspection. Then he found the phrase 'Laura's boyfriend' on one of the random pages he flipped through, so he demanded to know why I couldn't read 'decent' books and refused to let me borrow it. Fast forward 14 years or so, though, he did see me taking a copy of 'Empire and Sexuality' back to the University library along with a bagful of other more innocently titled books, and he didn't get mad or anything... maybe because he assumed it was necessary for one of my assignments and that I'd been a good girl and only looked at the pages that were absolutely compulsory. He did make me hide it in with the rest of the books, though, presumably so that the public wouldn't see that I'd had to read such shameful material. However, when he found out that I read The God Delusion he said that such books entertain doubts and create convincing arguments and so I should never have read it in the first place. But it just suggests to me think that religion is built on a weak basis if to maintain belief in it you have to keep avoiding reading anything that contradicts it.
He's furiously against social media like Facebook, etc, (which I could somewhat understand if those things were just used for meaningless ends, but actually you can connect over so many beneficial and important causes on those kind of platforms, too) and he once smashed my brother's laptop screen when he found him using Facebook. Up until very recently my brother had a curfew on his Internet usage. For these kind of reasons I feel like my parents don't know me very well as I find it difficult to be open with them about things I read/watch/do in my spare time. When I wanted to go swimming with a friend, for example, he would drop me to the ladies-only session and wait outside in the swimming pool reception until the session finished, and if for some reason he couldn't sit there and wait the whole time then I wouldn't be allowed to go. I still can't go to friend's houses without permission at this age, and my time there has to be carefully monitored. I have never stayed a night out of the house for a social reason... Even some of my first cousins in Pakistan I would never be allowed to sleep over with. So whenever I want to do something social after uni, like go to a meal with a friend, I tend to just tell my parents I have extra studying too, because it's easier than having to beg every time I want to exercise my freedom...
I listened to music in secret at home. Now I blast it out of my speakers!
I've always thought that about books etc that are written from a non religious point of view. If Islam is so perfect it's fine to read them as they wouldn't shake your faith. I would say at this point I'm agnostic, but maybe I'm still finding myself. I don't like the idea of being part of any religion. That reminds me, my parents used to have me removed from RE lessons. But they couldn't take me out of them in secondary school. I got good grades in that subject, and learned about other faiths. My dad admitted years later he thought we would convert to another religion if we learned about them.
I was lucky that my best friend was also a family friend so I was allowed to see her. Anyone else I'd lie about it.
Your dad sounds very controlling. He needs to realise his children are adults now. He's gotta loosen up. But if he's anything like my dad, he won't. As if he didn't like the metro! It's just news. I love reading it on the bus.
Also, I know there's a long time to go yet, but I think it's good to be well-prepared and it's helped to get as much as advice as possible in the past, which is why I'll ask this question now:
What do you guys think about re-initiating contact after leaving home? Should you, and how do you, go about that process?
So when I leave, presumably I'll just leave a note and at least initially I won't tell my family where I'm going in case I get followed. How long do I then allow before I get back in touch? And how do I maintain a relationship if I can't tell them where I live? Presumably the first thing they'll ask the first time I ring up or come back is 'where the hell are you?' And then do I have to dress up in hijab when I go to back to avoid hurting their feelings or exacerbating drama? It's a bit of a thought whirlwind, and any opinions or stories of experiences would be very helpful. <3
First off, I blocked everyone on my phone so I could breathe for a few days after leaving. Then I spoke to my mum. She basically knew it was coming and she also said she knew I would never move back home.
Yes don't tell your family where you go. No addresses or anything. If you do end up in a refuge, you can't tell anyone the location anyway. It must be kept confidential to protect you and the other women inside. Say you are safe, that's what I did. My family do not know my current address, but they do know what city I'm in. You may not want to disclose that at first, or ever. Tread slowly and carefully, I'm sure you'll know what to do.
I've been back to my hometown, but avoided going to the family home. I didn't put my hijab on because I don't wear it anymore so that needs to be accepted, whether they like it or not. My younger sister took hers off before me, believe it or not. She's only 17 but much stronger than I was at her age.