Photo depicting a sign that advertises the Muslimah's Against Abuse Center on the outside of a building.

Center Offers Culturally Appropriate Support for Muslim Women Facing Violence

by Elizabeth Turnbull

The Muslimah’s Against Abuse Center (MAAC) opened in South Seattle in 2020 to help women who face gender-based violence. Organizers created the nonprofit specifically to help fellow Muslim Women of Color and to provide healing circles, support groups, and other resources to support women in various ways.

“There is so much stigma around abuse within East African communities,” said Rahma Rashid, the founder of MAAC. “Often, these young women are being shamed by their religious leaders, family, and community members … We are providing a resource that doesn’t exist within our communities and that no one on the outside is providing.” 

Rashid, originally from Somalia, founded the nonprofit after her own experience with abuse, which opened her eyes to the needs of the women around her and in her community. 

“I survived a long abusive relationship and, at times, felt like there was nowhere to turn to in my time of need,” Rashid said. “I know that if I had a space such as MAAC, it would have made a big difference in helping me find the courage to leave my abuser.”

Because of her own experience, Rashid wanted to fill the gap of culturally appropriate support for women in her demographic. Because not all abuse facilities and resources are familiar with cultural and religious practices, many Muslim women can feel ostracized at a time of need.

Rashid said she had one client who was told by staff at a shelter to go somewhere else for help after she asked for non-pork meal options.  

“At that moment, my client felt neglected and embarrassed for even having to seek help,” Rashid said. “Stories like this are not unfamiliar to us.”

In addition to providing education on healthy relationships, teen awareness sessions, and support groups focused on preventing, addressing, and healing from abuse, MAAC is open to Muslim women and Girls of Color who want to discuss topics that may be taboo elsewhere, such as gendered violence, mental health, and the effects of COVID-19.

Rashid also wants MAAC to be a place that supports Muslim women professionally. In that vein, MAAC will host a Muslimah’s Networking Night on Nov. 20 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Sea-Tac Community Center. The event is intended to connect Muslim professionals and to provide an opportunity for young female students to connect with potential mentors to encourage them while they continue their studies. 

To sign up for the networking night, participants can contact 206-556-2981. Tickets are $25.

Elizabeth Turnbull is a journalist with reporting experience in the U.S. and the Middle East. She has a passion for covering human-centric issues and doing so consistently.

📸 Featured image by Alex Garland.

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