My story starts about 4 years ago, when I was only 15.
A bit of background about myself, I come from an Arab family. My family are Iraqi Arabs that follow the Christian faith. We came here in 1993, as a result I was born and raised in Canada. I have one brother who is 2 years older than I am. We are very close Alhamdulilah.
I used to be a partier, I was into heavy drinking, and dancing, typical teenager stuff. My brother was the same, we used to go to house parties together and hangout with our friends. I was very popular and accepted everyone, I was also very involved at school, teachers loved me and I was strong academically.
My story begins one night when I was out partying at a house party, my brother was there as well but he was with his friends and I was with mine. As it got late into the evening, more and more people showed up, it became really crowded and I didn’t know a lot of people that were coming in. I paid no mind and kept drinking until I was barely coherent. I was still aware of my surroundings but things were slow moving and I was woozy. A guy began hitting on me, and I welcomed it, as was my usual routine. He was pretty tall and built, he looked like he played football. I danced with him for a bit and then he lead me upstairs and I followed. I don’t want to get into too much detail at this point, as it is difficult even now, 4 years later, to talk about.
He made a move and I rejected it, and he tried again, I said no. I made it very clear that I didn’t want to continue, but he continued until I had to kick him off of me. At this point he became angry and forced me down, I began screaming and he choked me. I don’t remember much after that, everything went black. I woke up in the same room, my brother sitting over me, his eyes were teary and his jaw was swollen, and there was blood. I knew he must’ve fought the guy, but he was nowhere in sight. I was in a lot of pain, and at that point I knew I had been raped.
What followed this tragic event in my life was years of depression and insomnia. I became reserved, I didn’t talk much, my grades dropped, and I was suicidal. My brother didn’t speak about it, he was messed up like me, maybe even more because he saw it happen. I used to stare at the ceiling for hours non-stop. I avoided going to school and my friends would call my phone and I would just let it ring. As time went by I progressed through my extreme depression to a non-responsive reservation where I was physically with people, but mentality I wasn’t there. My parents took me to doctors, but I would blow it off, make up excuses. The most painful part of the rape was not being able to do anything about it. If I called the cops, my parents would find out I was partying and not being a virgin would devastate them and their honor. My brother knew this too and so it became our secret, though we seldom talked.
The night of…
This went on for two years, until one night, I heard my brother walking around in the hall way in our house. It was around 5 am, and it was odd to me that he was up at that obscure time. I listened to him go into the washroom and turn on the tap and it was on for at least 2 minutes. Weird. He left the bathroom and went into his room. I was up because I couldn’t sleep, so I thought I’d go in to talk to him. I approached his door which was open just a crack and peered in at him. He was standing with his hands over his rib cage, looking down and whispering to himself. I watched for another minute, and as soon as he prostrated I knew what he was doing. I threw the door open all the way and scowled at him. He sat up fast, and looked in my direction. He sighed a little, in relief I think? I was visibly upset and I started shouting at him. He shushed me and I kept going on asking him what the hell he was doing and why. He put his hand over my mouth and tried to calm me down a little. I started choking up, and while his hand was still over my mouth, tears began forming. For the first time in a long time I cried.
My brother kind of just held me there and rocked me back and forth like I was a baby. When I finally calmed down enough, I asked him why he was praying like that and he told me that he is a Muslim. I don’t know why, but my world felt like it was crashing down on me, which felt surreal because I was so numb before. I suspected as much, but it still took me by surprise. He was a Muslim. I became annoyed instantly, and then angry. I cursed him out, saying he was delusional for being a part of that religion and thinking it was right. I blamed him for what happened to me. I yelled at him for not being there for me, and for thinking converting to Islam was going to solve his problems. I told him it was stupid, and throughout my rant he was just quiet, and listening to me.
I sat there in silence and he finally spoke. He told me when he saw me that night, he knew he had to stop the kind of life we were living, and that there had to be something out there that would help him make better life choices, and so after his initial shock of finding me that way, he began researching on the internet, first starting with Christianity and working through almost every religion before he thought to look into Islam. He explained to me his thought process throughout the whole journey, and I was intrigued. When he finally told me why Islam appealed to him most, I listened but felt indifferent. I was still angry, until he finished his story and finally invited me to accept Islam as well. I became defensive and said it was stupid, and I would never accept it, and that he can go ahead and do whatever he wants, but to keep it out of my face. He was visibly sad. He frowned and said fine, and that he would continue praying for me. I laughed and walked away. I laid in my bed and thought about everything he told me, and convinced myself he was in shock when he accepted Islam, and would eventually leave it when he became better.