The first Time I felt fear #domesticabuse

The first time I ever felt fear was the day after my wedding.

I was getting ready to go out for the evening sheva brachot (party each night for 7 days following a wedding to continue with the celebrations). I stood in the bedroom.

I was getting dressed.

He was as well.

As I walked past him I made a comment

Which enraged him.

I said “hey you’re short”!

I thought it was a joke as I am tall

And was in heels and he was barefoot.

The atmosphere turned sinister.

Immediately.

His face went from white to red to purple

He was livid

I saw his mouth twitch

His hands shake.

I must have touched a nerve

Without realising.

“I’m sorry”

I whispered not knowing what he was capable of.

“Sorry?? Sorry?? Really??”

He was yelling.

He was out of control.

I’d never seen him like this.

He slowly walked over to me.

I froze.

He was breathing heavily.

I felt my heart thud in my ears.

He was inches from me.

I was shaking.

What the hell has happened to him?

What happened to the guy I met

7 months earlier?

I could feel his breath.

“Little? You called me little?

Don’t you EVER fucking call me little again.

Do you understand me?”

So this is what fear feels like.

Shaking.

Sweating.

Not knowing his next move.

Then he turned away and said he was

Going out the house as he didn’t want to

Be anywhere near me.

As he left and I heard the door close

I slowly fell to my knees and my body

Slumped to the ground.

I was terrified.

What would happen next time?

Suddenly I was sobbing.

Heaving

Painful

Sobs

Soaking the carpet.

Ruining all my make up.

I couldn’t stop.

But I had to go and party soon

Meet friends and family

Pretend everything was okay.

How would I do that?

The pain was overwhelming.

Eventually I pulled myself together.

Wiped my face.

Redid my make up.

Put on a beautiful wig.

And joined him in the car to go.

No apology.

Silence.

Nothing.

We arrived.

I smiled.

Of course everything was wonderful

Yes he treats me amazing

He’s so kind

It’s wonderful being married.

On and on.

I lied.

I couldn’t tell anyone the truth.

And besides

It was a one off – wasn’t it?

I wouldn’t say that again

And it would all be fine again.

No one guessed anything.

We played the loved up happy couple

But I was already breaking inside.

I had seen the look in his eyes.

It wasn’t a look I had seen before.

And it scared me.

I vowed I would do anything I could

To make sure I would never

Make him angry again.

That was the first time.

The first time of a 17 year marriage.

It began a cycle of abuse I couldn’t escape.

Day after day.

Month after month.

Year after year.

Until the day he got arrested.

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Being #Excluded from #frum schools/institutions

This is painful for me to write about but it must be spoken about.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about orthodox children being kicked out of school for little or no reason.

This is my story.

Back when I was 17 I went to Seminary in Manchester. It wasn’t my happiest time and I went through a roller coaster of emotions and experiences during my first year.

A bombshell came 3 days before the second year was supposed to begin.

I was kicked out.

I had discussed with the sem rav how I wasn’t cut out for all day studying and being cooped up in the building, and wanted to do part time teaching. He seemed to support me and encouraged me to go and have interviews at schools near the sem.

I got a job offer at one school. Working several hours a day in the afternoon instead of the usual free time we had. I would still be there for the 4 hours religious studies all morning and the hours at night.

He agreed and all was confirmed.

However when I received the letter days before term began at the end of the summer holidays I felt my world crash down around me.

In the letter there were assumptions about things I was alleged to have done. All false. I was referred to as a “tv soaked girl”.

Why?

Because I had an opinion….

Because I had my own mind…

Because I dared to question the rabbis… Because….

Because I was me.

I then had the humiliating experience of having to contact the headteacher who was relying on me to start the following week. I lied. I was too ashamed to tell the truth. I told him I decided not to return to sem and to begin working back home in London.

I was ashamed to tell people. So I just didn’t turn up at the beginning of term. For those who asked I gave the same fake reason.

But I was angry.

Livid.

That was genuinely the first time I felt angry with the whole religion. I was not doing anything wrong. Hadn’t broken any rules. But as someone with an inquisitive mind and wanting to learn about the outside world that made me unfit for the sem mould.

In the letter it stated how they didn’t want my thoughts to influence other girls and therefore I wouldn’t be able to return.

Immediately I wanted to do everything I had never been allowed to do. I wanted to go to sem in jeans, smoke and just hang around on Shabbat.

When the anger subsided I realised something.

THIS was exactly what those rabbis wanted. They wanted me to be that bad girl. That girl that they could say “see! We kicked her out because we knew what she was really like! And we were right! Look at her!”

So I did something different. I got a full time job in an office. I stayed religious and my clothes barely changed. I began dating. I wanted to settle down. I wanted to show the doubters… the people who said what a bad person and a bad influence I was… I wanted to prove them wrong.

But it hurt. Bad. It changed me. I saw a religion that was judgemental. Men in charge who could exclude a young girl for daring to ask questions. I realised they were people who are scared of being questioned. Scared to be challenged.

So instead of facing me and dealing with me head on, it was easier to kick me out.

But this feeling of rejection never left me. And it changed the way I felt towards a very patriarchal and hyper judgemental society. I began to drift away from it.

Not immediately.

But slowly.

Over the years.

And yes, that rejection, that awful painful feeling carried on hurting me for a long time.

Dear Rabbis, teachers and those in charge of the religious schools – let me tell you something.

You have a huge responsibility. The children in your care are young, impressionable, often vulnerable, and one wrong move can and will affect them for life.

Can you honestly live with yourself knowing you have hurt a child? Knowing your actions have caused that child to leave the faith?

Why isn’t there more love, more compassion, more sympathy for our children???

Please don’t reject our children. They are the most precious things in the world.

#Jewish #religion #schools #education

How I moved on from the #childabuse I suffered

Many people would never forgive their parents for abuse they went through. And I totally understand why.

I want to take a slightly different approach.

I have spent years and years being angry and hurting over abuse I suffered as a kid. In all ways. For so long I felt like I was stuck in the past. Like I’d never be able to move on.

I had every right to be angry.

I had every right to cut off those who abused me. Over and over again.

But in recent years as I have got older and have kids of my own I decided to look at things differently.

Not because they deserved it. But because I needed to heal. I needed to be able to move forward in my life.

I spent so long analysing their situation. What could perhaps have made them do what they did.

My parents are both BT and for many years had little or no contact with their own families. They married young. Too young. They had baby after baby. All in quick succession.

Finances were tight. My father worked hard all his life. Sometimes doing several jobs at once. But with so many mouths to feed and bills to pay it’s an uphill struggle with almost no end in sight.

I would never ever condone abuse. I have to make it clear. But I needed to understand them more.

I took time out to grieve for the little girl whose innocence was taken from her. For the young child who was perpetually in fear of those who should have been there to protect her. For the baby covered in bruises but who was too scared to cry….

And then I realised in order to get on with my life and be emotionally stable I had to put it all in the past. I had to close that chapter.

It wasn’t easy but I did it. I began to allow those people back into my life. Slowly. Limited.

And it’s fascinating how time changes people. I don’t see them in any way as threatening. I see two people getting older, and who have lost contact with almost all their children because of their actions.

I feel a little bit sorry for them. It’s strange. They have one child who has regular contact and they have ten children.

I have no idea whether or not they regret what they did, whether they feel guilty, whether they have “chosen to forget” what happened to me and my siblings.

But I need to find peace. For myself. For my future.

I need to move on with my life without harbouring intense pain and anger against people who I now feel have mental health issues.

So I have let go of the past.

I have forgiven – to some extent.

I will never forget. But I need to move on.

#childabuse #sexualabuse #domesticviolence #frum #chabad #mentalhealth

My #bariatricsurgery nightmare still goes on…

To anyone considering #bariatric surgery…

8 years down the line.

Over 100 surgeries.

Almost died on 2 occasions.

And I’m never gonna “be normal”. (Jokes to be written in the comments please!!)

Tonight I’m in a lot of pain.

I’m vomiting continuously.

Anything I eat causes me pain

And then I’m in the bathroom throwing up.

Was it worth it?

For me? No.

Please – when considering surgery remember all the possible risks. You may be fine but you may end up like me… or worse still like my two friends who died from complications.

Being obese is really unhealthy but dying or living in pain unable to digest a portion of chicken 8 years down the line isn’t great either.

#bariatricsurgery #gastricbypass #gastricsleeve #gastricband #hospital #sepsis

Accepting our flaws… all our bodies are beautiful

Today as I was walking through #CamdenTown in #London I noticed a group of people pointing and looking at these women.

At first I didn’t even notice the fact that they had very little on. I was blown away by their beauty and the headwear!! I saw they had lots of words written on their bodies. Words such as liberte. I wanted to know more about them and what their message was.

So I walked over to them and asked them about themselves. They told me they were musicians who had just performed in a local hall. They are called #TheSoapGirls and are from #SouthAfrica.

They were the loveliest women! So genuinely nice and all about embracing the human body and loving and accepting your body regardless of your imperfections.

I told them “if I looked like you I’d also be more comfortable in my body”. I was so impressed and in awe of what they said to me. We discussed how no one is perfect. It’s not about being perfect. It’s about saying this is me. I’m not perfect and I’m comfortable in my own skin. And being proud of yourself.

For someone like me who has so many insecurities I really needed to hear this. Ironically I noticed many guys taking selfies with them in the background thinking it was hilarious. And I thought you missed the point!

Sometimes we meet people and they change our lives and the way we perceive ourselves. This was one of those moments.

#DomesticAbuse #MentalHealth – 3 years later and I’m living drama free!

This time 3 years ago I was in a terrible situation. I had just left my husband of 17 years. I had nothing. And no one. He had withdrawn all the funds we had in our bank accounts and I was broke. Totally penniless. I had 3 kids and not a penny to my name.

I was trying to come to terms with all the abuse I had endured. I spent countless hours doing police interviews recounting the sexual, financial and emotional abuse he had put me through.

I became suicidal and severely depressed. I was self harming too.

At the same time I began to change and pursued my new OTD life and journey. Everyone turned on me. One of my kids was suffering terribly with anxieties to the point they were unable to function and go to school. That child ended up in hospital under the children’s mental health team.

I was alone. Totally alone. I didn’t know anything about the otd community at that time. I did it all on my own.

I was out of work due to ill health. My life seemed like it would never get better. I didn’t know how I would be able to make it through the days. How I would be able to feed my kids.

I was being taken to court by people countless times over finances, unpaid bills, issues with my divorce, custody etc etc.

There were times I wanted to give up. But having my kids and knowing where they would end up if I did what I thought of stopped me.

The frum community were harassing me. They were spreading vicious rumors about me and coming to my house to protest and harass me and my kids. I had to call the police on several occasions.

This week I was talking to a friend and I said “my life is finally settled and drama free!” He said he was looking forward to the time when he would be able to say the same thing.

I’m now back at work. My kids are happy and settled. I have moved to a new place away from the frum community. My depression is (mostly) under control. I have a fantastic boyfriend who loves and supports me 100%. My rent is paid up to date. My bills are being paid on time. And I’m divorced and have legally changed my surname back to maiden name!!

Life is good!

And I’m finally living drama free!

And I never thought – 3 years ago – that this day would ever come.

Some of you may now be where I was back then. Know that this day will come for you too. When you’ll be happy, stress free, drama free, financially stable, and loved.

If it can happen to me it can happen to you.

I said I was busy. I wasn’t.

I said I was okay

I wasn’t.

I said I was busy

I wasn’t.

Well I kinda was.

But not the way you think.

I was busy

Hiding under my duvet

Crying

Lost

Alone

Wishing the day to be over.

I was busy

Doing nothing.

I was busy

Just

Trying

To survive.

I’m sorry I said I was busy

But you know me by now.

You know my struggles

My #mentalhealth issues

My fight to overcome #depression.

Sometimes I wanna say

I’m sorry for being me.

#mentalhealthweek #mentalhealthmonth #PTSD #mentalhealthawareness