#OneOfUs 

Just finished watching #oneofus.

I asked my 12 year old daughter if she wanted to join me but she wasn’t interested. However at some point she crawled into bed with me and cuddled up as we watched it together. 

When the topic of money being raised to support the religious parent having custody of the kids came up she turned to me and asked why….

I told her this had happened here in London too. Not very long ago  £1m was raised to do exactly this. She seemed shocked. 

I turned to her and looked her in the eye. “I know people whose children were taken away using this money”.  “Really mum? That’s so sad. Do you know them personally”? 

“Yes sweetie.  That money was used against me”.

Fuck. The tears. 

“The time you were taken from me was paid for by the money raised”. 

She is absolutely horrified.  

I’m sure many of you would disagree with having this conversation with a 12 year old but actually it made her realise what went on behind the scenes.

The final scene of the film brought us both to tears…. it made her realise… to some extent the pain I must have gone through and she also realises that there are some extremely evil religious people out there parading as rabbis and community do-gooders.

I’m in awe of the strength and bravery of those involved… xx

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Happy New Year??

The final New Year spent as a family….


Every year we would go to friends 

Over the New Year period

They lived an hour away.
Lovely family

Kind

Welcoming 

Ultra religious 

Made us feel at home.
Daniel  (not his real name)

Was like a surrogate dad to my ex

Who had lost his own dad 

Just before we met.
He was able to talk to him 

Like no one else could 

He was honest with him 

They chatted a lot. 
They had known each other 

A while before I came along

Although they accepted me 

And when my kids came along 

They were warm and loving 

To them too. 
Over the years we grew close 

Although I never told them 

What was really going on 

With the person who was 

Supposed to love me…
I think they had their 

Suspicions 

They couldn’t have been oblivious…
The snide remarks

The sarcastic comments 

The disgusting way 

He spoke to me 

Around the dinner table 

In front of all the guests…
He would bring whiskey with him 

Secret stash in his hip flask 

Drank it when no one was watching

And then he would be drunk 

Which was always a disaster…
September 2014

The final New Year as a family…
The things he said to me 

Publicly 

Humiliated me no end 

And I was thoroughly ashamed 

of what was happening 

To us all…
I noticed the glances 

In my direction 

And Daniel’s wife Sarah  

(not her real name)

Even had to step in and tell him

It was not okay to talk that way…
That night the kids went to bed

My ex did too

It was all the alcohol I guess 

And I was awake.
I felt overwhelming sadness

As I sat downstairs 

Trying to formulate my thoughts 

Trying to work out what to do

and how I’d face everyone 

The next day. 
The house was still.

Everyone was asleep 

And I was alone 

Downstairs 

Thinking 

Just 

Thinking….
Suddenly I got angry 

Why am I living like this

Why am I putting up with this?

Is it right for my kids to see this

To see their mum being 

Treated in this manner?
I felt the pain

The tears 

The lump in my throat 

Choking back the tears

But couldn’t 

And suddenly the dam burst

And I was sobbing

Uncontrollably….
The pain was unimaginable 

My heart was twisted

In agony 

the not knowing 

The questions 

Uncertainties about the future…
Wanting out 

Not knowing how to do it…

Feeling terrified 

Of his reaction

Of the inevitable “punishment”

When I’d tell him all this…
Then I heard footsteps 

Coming down the stairs 

The anxiety I felt was awful 

I felt sick 

To the pit of my stomach.
To my surprise it was Sarah 

Getting herself some water

And she was shocked 

To see I was awake

Until she realised I was crying.
She came into the room 

Asked gently what was going on 

And at that moment 

It all came pouring out. 
She told me to hang on

And went back upstairs

And a few minutes later 

She returned with a 

Sleepy Daniel.
They sat down next to me

And I told them 

What was going on 

All the years

And they had lots of questions…
They asked what I wanted.
I said I was done

I wanted and needed out 

Immediately 

And I even added 

“I want this to be the last chag

Together with you.

No offence. 

But I hope next year

I’m single 

And not staying here”.
After a lot of talking 

Daniel said he would talk to him 

The next day 

And try to help me out.
I knew it would be pointless.
Still I agreed.

It was worth a final try.
Obviously nothing changed. 
And the next year 

I was single 

And was not celebrating 

The New Year…

Finally moving on…..

After living 2 1/2 years as the only openly OTD woman in the hasidic neighbourhood in London I have finally been able to move on to the next stage in my journey!
Today I signed the Tenancy Agreement to my new flat and picked up the keys!!
I’ve started moving my stuff although going from a 6 bedroom marital home to a 2 bedroom flat is going to be challenging. 
At times I never believed this day would ever come.
It’s been a nightmare. 
*  No contact with family or friends from my previous life 

*  Lawyers 

*  Courts

*  Losing the marital home worth in excess of £1,000,000

*  My sons living with their religious father

*  Losing my daughter for several months 

*  constant harassment from the frum community….
The list goes on…
For those of you who have followed my journey you will understand how jubilant I felt today opening the front door to my own new home.
However what I want to say is despite all that I never gave up hope of one day being able to move on and live the life I always dreamed of… yes it’s not how I wanted it to be….
I wish I had my sons with me but shit happens.
But life is amazing right now… I have unbelievably supportive people around me and I’m very fortunate – you know who you are 💖💖
Finally I can smile and say they tried to break me but I came back fighting and never again will I live in pain and suffering…. 
At times its easy to feel helpless when we leave the faith but life gets better one day… I’m proof of that!!

Getting my Daughter into a Local Religious School. The Fight. They didn’t even ask her name…

When my daughter was 2 I tried to get her into a local religious school. 
My sons were in a hasidic cheder back then and my ex decided it would make the most sense for her to go to a comparable girls’ school.
I was always considered “modern” or “different” even back then although I was (outwardly) religious.  I guess that was due to the fact I went to a fairly normal school and spoke English to a high standard. My ex is a convert which also made us different as a couple and as a family.
And so I was concerned I would struggle to get her in to that particular school. 
I asked for the application form, filled it in with all the details required and waited. And waited. And waited a bit more. 
Eventually I got a call from the lady in charge of vetting potential student’s mothers.  She told me in no uncertain terms that I was not “the kind of mother we want at our school” but they would be willing to give me a chance.  As long as I made changes.
At the time my ex was very difficult and I felt like I had no real option.  I needed her to be accepted. I couldn’t face his anger. Again.
The lady told me in order for me to prove I was really interested in having my daughter at their school the following changes would have to be done immediately. 
1.  I would have to cut my wigs short.  I used to wear wigs that were long and natural looking. And…
2.  I would have to immediatley stop wearing skin colour or black tights.  That was a hard one.  She said in her school the only acceptable form of leg covering was brown stockings. I was adamant that would never be the case so she agreed I could wear a charcoal grey colour instead. 
3.  I would have to be prepared to stop driving as mothers who had daughters in that school were not allowed to drive.
I did point out to this lady that she did indeed drive so why would it be okay for her to insist I stop driving when she was a driver herself? 
She explained that as an older woman it was acceptable for her.  Yeah. Go figure. Nope. Me neither. 
After some discussion as to the specifics of the points I decided I would agree to keep to those rules. I was scared of my then husband and felt I had no option.
So I went shopping for truly ugly coloured tights. I changed from nude colour or black to charcoal grey. 

 
I then grappled with my consciousness and my heart about cutting my wigs. Eventually I decided it was the only way she would be accepted into that school and so therefore I would be prepared to shorten 2 out of the 3 wigs I had. 
It was really tough for me.  I felt unattractive and pressurised into looking a certain way. And what for? For a school I didn’t believe in and a system I had huge issues with. 
And yet I did it.
Only those who truly understand the nature of domestic abuse will really appreciate how forced I felt and how little option I felt I had.
Then I was told the trial period would be 6 months.  I’d have to abide by those rules for the 6 months after which I would be called to a meeting to see how to proceed. 
I stuck by my promises for the stipulated 6 months after which I called up the woman I’d spoken to originally. 
She seemed surprised to hear from me. At that point I honestly expected her to congratulate me and welcome my daughter into her school.
Sadly that wasn’t to be. What she said next shocked me.
“You have to stop wearing skirts that are really long or shorten the ones you wear”. 
Back then I’d wear long flowing skirts almost down to the ground.
“When you have done that and stuck to it for 3 months we will discuss your application”.
Once again I felt helpless. I felt desperate. I needed to get her into this school. Urgently. 
So I agreed. I would wear shorter skirts. For 3 months.  Then I would know what would happen. 
All these changes were draining.

I was being changed. 

Every part of me. 
I was basically being told that being me wasn’t acceptable.
I had to change me.

And so I did.
After 3 months I once again phoned this lady and asked her how to proceed with the application. I confirmed I had abided by the terms set out and she acknowledged it.
“You are still driving” she stated. I confirmed that was indeed the case.
“You cannot drive. Come back to me once you’ve stopped driving for 3 months”.
I snapped.
“So is this some sort of a game to push me off over and over again until I quit my application”? I asked her.
She was quiet. 
I knew my fight was over at that point so I told her what I really thought of her and her school. 
“I only applied because I thought this was the place for my daughter. I really wanted her to get into your school.   Despite the fact that you have made it so difficult for me over such a long period of time didn’t stop me doing all the things you asked of me.
But I have realised something.  You don’t even know me daughter’s name. She was irrelevant to the process. All you cared about was the length of my wigs or the colour of my tights…. and whether I wore a long skirt.
What is my daughter’s name?”

Silence.  

I continued.
“Any school that treats their applicants the way I have been treated is not the place I would ever want my daughter to go to.  What is shameful is you didn’t have the guts to tell me the truth from the start.
You never intended to accept my daughter but you made me go through all the steps regardless.
This is not a school I would want to be a part of.  Goodbye”.
I hung up. 
And cried.

 
A lot.
I felt ashamed and used as part of some religious twisted game.
#jewish #jews  #rabbi  #otd  #Jewish  #mystory  #school 

Trusting Again after leaving an Abusive Marriage 

She turned around. 

Their eyes locked
She noticed his hair
His eyes
Their gaze lasting that
Bit too long.

She looked away
But felt compelled to
Check him out
She liked what she saw
And he too liked
What he saw.

Try acting cool
She tells herself
Hoping for him to come over
Wanting to find out
Who he is…

He’s talking to his friends
and she notices
His kindness
The gentleness
In his voice
His touch
On his friend’s shoulder…

He’s so different
From the guys I’ve known
She’s thinking to herself
As she tries to put him
Out of her mind
But she can’t.

A moment later
And he’s walking towards her
Her heart skips a beat
She’s sweating slightly
“Good evening. Great meeting you”
She stretches her hand out
He ignores and
Pecks her on her cheek.

“The pleasure is all mine”
She responds.

“Mark” he says.
“And you are”?
“Ellie” she stutters
“My name is Ellie”
“Nice name. You here on your own”?
“No. My friends are over there”
She points to the guys she came with
And there’s an awkward moment.

“I’d love to find out more about you
If that’s okay?”
She’s blushing
“I’d love that”
“Can I have your number please?
Or you can take mine instead”?

They exchange numbers.

That night she’s lying in bed
Thinking of Mark
Wondering what he’s really like.

Then she thinks
about her ex
The way he treated her
And the abuse she suffered
Over so many years…

Will she be to love anyone
Ever
Again?

Will she be able to trust
Anyone
Fully
Ever
Again?

Should she even date
Should she meet guys
Or should she protect herself
Save potential pain
Stay single?
She is confused
Her mind conflicted…

Suddenly she stops
And realises
He’s taken so much from her
He’s hurt her too much
But if she doesn’t try
To find love
And happiness
He will have taken
Even more from her
Than he has already.

She decides to take Mark’s call
Arranges to meet
The following week.

With hope in her heart
And a change in her mind
She falls asleep…

Emotional Abuse and Turmoil 

She was a shell of a person 

No voice
No opinion
No thoughts …

He had taken it all away
Stripped her of everything….
Her self worth
Her confidence
Her whole being…

She couldn’t think
Without being told what to think
She couldn’t do anything
Without being told what to do
She needed him
Although she hated him…

He made her this way.
He groomed her
Moulded her the way he wanted
The way he expected
His woman to be….

But he took everything away from her
and left her with nothing…
He promised her the world
But stripped her naked
and void of her usual zest for life…

Her smile
Once glowing and real
Became fake and sad…
She would plaster a smile
On her face
Although her eyes told
A different story….

She stopped being herself
She became an extention of him
Knowing his every thought
And expectation…
And she followed all the rules
Exactly as he demanded…

She stopped realising the truth
Justified what he was doing
Blamed herself when things fucked up
Hurt herself when scared
Felt guilty when she got him angry
and even said sorry when he
Hurt her…

After all it was her fault
Wasn’t it?

Reminiscing….

For the 17 years

I was married
No one knew
What was happening
To me
And my kids.

No one knew about the
Horrors
The nightmares
The pain
The deep sadness
That was going on
Behind closed doors.

It was kind of
A game.
We never told anyone
And sadly
Learned how to
Pretend
That we were happy
That he was
A good dad
That he was caring
Supportive
Loyal
Loving
But in truth
He was anything but.

We obviously pretended
So well
That
Everyone thought
It was the truth.
And we were one
Happy family.

Looking back
In hindsight
There were red flags
Warnings
That perhaps if
I was older
I’d have picked up on.

But I was blind
Naive
And far too young.

Before we got married
There were a few incidents
Which made me
Fearful
Scared of the guy
I was dating
And scared of what
He was capable of.

He is a highly intelligent man
Very eloquent
Convincing
Patronising
And he would scoff
And mock
My thoughts and ideas
And I didn’t know
Who to turn to
For advice.

I felt stupid
He hadn’t really
Done anything
It was more a
Feeling
A sixth sense
Perhaps.

And as time
Moved on
The wedding date
Was closer than ever
And my mind
Was fucked up
I was in a mess.

I smiled through
My fears
Chatted to colleagues
Despite the anxiety
I was experiencing.
I covered up well
Too well.

I wanted it to be perfect.
To have a perfect
Life
Husband
Family
Home
And I felt if I acted
It may happen
In real life.

A month before the wedding
I knew it wasn’t good
I felt sickened.
He had started
Calling me names
Was critical of
My figure
In a disrespectful way
And I began to feel
Fear.
I was marrying
The man I was scared of…..

But I couldn’t tell anyone
and besides that
I couldn’t cancel
My wedding this late
In the day?
Or could I?

He started monitoring me
Where was I after work
What are you
Doing this evening
Why didn’t you
Pick up the phone when I called
Who called you just now
The questions
Went on and on.

I hadn’t done anything
Wrong
And yet
I felt like a
Criminal.

So…
The biggest mouth
In my family
The most outspoken
In my class
And yes it happened
To me.

He broke me down
Piece by piece
Chipping away
At my sense of self
My confidence.

He would criticise
Anything I did
And he’d expect me to
Come to meet him
For a drink or meal
And if I was even
One minute late
He would get angry at me.

The whole time
I kept thinking
It will get better
When we are married
It will be perfect.
Like in my dreams.

Sometime
We want to dream
Nice dreams
And instead
It’s a nightmare
You wake up
Shaking
Bathed in sweat
And glad it was just
A nightmare
And not reality.

But my nightmare
Never stopped
I never woke up
It was there
Every day
Every night
Year after year
Getting worse and worse.
Hell.

Even nowadays
I have dreams
That wake me up
Terrified
And I remember
The horrors
Of my marriage
The suffering
I endured
The pain my kids went through ….

But I wake up
And it takes me a moment
To remember
It’s over
He’s gone
And it’s time to
Rebuild our lives….

With tears
And pain
I write this
So others don’t feel
So alone
And will reach out
For help…