Dear Maliha,

Graduation Date

Fall 12-17-2021

Grading Professor

Phil Bertelsen

Subject Concentration


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Dear Maliha is a short documentary film exploring the complexities of spiritual abuse through Maliha Fairooz. Spiritual abuse is a form of abuse that uses spiritual or religious beliefs to control or manipulate others. In some cases, spiritual abuse can be used to describe a religious leader who abuses their platform. But in Maliha’s story, we explore the concept of parental spiritual abuse. However, we learn more about this through Maliha Fairooz and the creative use of her journal.

For Maliha journaling is a form of therapy she uses to process her feelings and days. She also uses it as a way to heal from an abusive relationship with her mother and tries to reconnect with her faith. Among the decorated pages of her journals, she has a collection of about 10, Maliha also writes about her adventures after moving out of her family’s house.

After several years of her mother’s abuse, she now experiences anxiety during prayer. Whenever Maliha would pray her mother would stand over her and police her movements as well as her recitation. Through the eyes of her mother, Maliha never prayed perfectly enough so she would tell her to read louder or quieter to move faster or slower. This made what is normally a calming and meditative act, a very anxious one for Maliha. Additionally, Maliha has a page dedicated to exploring her senses- this is because whenever Maliha was feeling a certain sense her mother would contradict it and tell her ‘No you are not feeling this sense you’re feeling just fine.”

In this documentary, we also see Maliha enjoying the simple pleasures of adulthood such as grocery shopping and setting up her new apartment. This is a luxury she never believed she would have because there was so much control over her life as a child and an adult. We also hear her contemplative voice and we will also see the way she creates her journal entries. My goal is to inform people about this specific form of spiritual abuse as well as spread awareness on mental and physical healing after surviving abuse.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.