April 2016 was the last time I saw my niece. We weren’t allowed to talk to each other since April 2015 but we were both at an event and met there.
I’ll never forget the way both she and her older sister who were both young teenagers whispered to me when no one was looking that they would go to the bathroom and that I should follow a few minutes later.
I knew it would be a one off chance so I grabbed it with both hands. Looking around and making sure I wasn’t being followed I ran upstairs to the bathroom where both of my nieces were waiting for me.
I cannot begin to explain the emotions that went on during those next few minutes before we had to leave. They cried. I cried. They apologised for what was going on and promised they wished they were allowed to see me but had to listen to their parents
They hugged me tighter than I’ve ever hugged anyone knowing this may be the final time we met. The tears wouldn’t stop and I told them that I loved them and was the same person they always knew. I hadn’t changed who I was inside although I looked different. They knew I loved them. I hope they still know that.
I am fully aware of the rabbinic ruling given to their family making it very clear there was to be absolutely no contact ever again. And that stopped instantly. I tried to call and text and got ignored unti eventually I found out why.
I’m no longer angry with them. I understand how much weight the words of a Rabbi carry. I also know that they don’t know any different and for them having contact with me is categorically forbidden.
This niece is getting married tomorrow. I had no idea. Someone told me by mistake. I don’t think I was meant to find out. It hurts that I can’t be there to share in her special day…. And I have no way of contacting her.
I miss you… I love you… I wish I could be there tomorrow… I’m sorry your parents have cut me out your life….
No visible symptoms, no runny nose, just a head full of darkness. No fever or rash, no fractures or sprains, just a longing for something unable to explain…
THE ONLY THING MORE EXHAUSTING THAN HAVING A MENTAL ILLNESS IS PRETENDING LIKE YOU DON’T.
MY ONLY RELIEF IS SLEEP. WHEN I AM ASLEEP, I AM NOT SAD, I AM NOT ANGRY, I AM NOT LONELY, I AM NOTHING.
It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes. It’s okay to do something that you hadn’t done, because if we don’t do those things we never grow.
IT’S OKAY TO FEEL UNSTABLE. IT’S OKAY TO DISASSOCIATE. IT’S OKAY TO HIDE FROM THE WORLD. IT’S OKAY TO NEED HELP. IT’S OKAY NOT TO BE OKAY. YOUR MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A PERSONAL FAILURE.
“Thoughts could leave scars deeper than almost anything else.”
People with mental health problems are almost never dangerous. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators. At the same time, mental illness has been the common denominator in one act of mass violence after another.
I felt held hostage by her illness and by the backward mental health system that once again was incapable of helping our family in crisis.
I wish people could understand that the brain is the most important organ of our body. Just because you can’t see mental illness like you could see a broken bone, doesn’t mean it’s not as detrimental or devastating to a family or an individual.
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is More COMMOn and also More hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal Mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
“I’m fine, I’m just tired”
My depression is setting in but I don’t want to bother you with it.
MAYBE IT’S TIME TO GIVE UP. MY MENTAL ISSUES HAVE WORN ME DOWN TO NOTHING. I CAN’T CONTROL THE PTSD.
NO ONE UNDERSTANDS WHAT I TRY TO TELL THEM. I FEEL LIKE A BURDEN WITH NO END IN SIGHT…
Having just come across this article I’m enraged. We can see that sadly because the Beth Din is made up of male Rabbis, they seem to only see things through the eyes of the husbands.
A woman who goes to the police for help because her husband is physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abusive shouldn’t be penalised.
Proving coercive control is incredibly difficult and to put another burden on the victim that if she (it’s usually the women but not always) goes to the courts about it she can be left chained to her estranged husband, without a Gett, forever. This is outrageous.
Saying you’re helping agunot (jewish women unable to be free of their husbands as they refuse to divorce their wives) and actually doing it is a different thing. What about the human rights of the victims? We need to stop protecting men who are abusers and begin thinking of how to help the women trapped and chained to their their husbands.
At the root of all of this is the terrible sexism and misogyny that exists in the Beth Din. The Chief Rabbi has said he will intervene and try to resolve this issue. I hope he does. This is unacceptable and has to be sorted out. We can’t have women chained for decades to their husbands. And we can’t allow women to be scared to go for help knowing if she does she won’t get her Gett.
A letter to parents from a parent. Please take the time to read this and feel free to share. We need to start a conversation about child abuse and the repercussions of what this can do to the victim later on in life.
Tonight I heard something that literally broke my heart. I can’t go into too many details but I’ll give you a basic run through of what I was told.
A young girl of around 17 was being physically abused by her parents. As a strictly religious household (I can’t say which religion), they felt she was doing things that to them was bad.
We are not talking about anything really bad. It was things like getting home 5 mins later than planned. Getting a grade less than expected in school. Not helping enough around the house etc etc.
She was expected to do a huge chunk of the chores and she did what she could. However, For these parents, nothing was ever good enough.
They physically punished her all her life but as she grew up she began resenting them and became more and more distant.
During that time she met a young man around the same age and they began dating. He had no mother figure in his life as she’s a drug addict. It was just him and his father at home. The father wasn’t bothered by his son having a girlfriend so young.
The girl was in a very low place and was so touched that someone was showing her attention. They spent more and more time together until they became an official couple.
As a religious girl, any form of intimacy before marriage is a huge sin. She knew she could never tell her parents about him.
THIS IS THE PART I WANT PARENTS TO READ. PLEASE.
Because of the physical abuse she suffered at home, and knowing that her parents believed they were doing the right thing in disciplining her like that, she felt very much alone. And she grew more and more attached and close to this young man.
Had she been able to speak to her mother or father they would have been able to tell her what to look out for, what is normal, what are red flags, and generally have someone to turn to if things go wrong.
I totally understand the religious aspect but there’s reality too. We cannot, as parents, turn a blind eye to what our children are doing simply because we don’t agree with it. We need to go at their pace or else we end up with children who resort to lying to us and us not being aware of what they’re experiencing.
One day after she was hit by her parents she decided she had had enough. She secretly packed a bag and ran away to her boyfriend’s house. No one knew where she was because she was unable to tell people about him, for fear of reprisals and being judged.
The man and his father were thrilled. They had a young woman there “to do women’s work”. She was trapped. She had to do all the laundry, cooking for all of them, was expected to clean the house, and if she complained she was told “be grateful we opened our home to you”.
One day there was an argument and put the blue the man hit the girl hard. He obviously apologised and said it would never happen again. She believed him. And of course that was just the beginning of 9 months of abuse. He beat her all the time.
She was covered in bruises. And she was mentally falling apart. Her parents tried to track her down and begged her to come home. They promised they would stop abusing her and things would change.
Then she had a breakdown and ended up having to be in a hospital to deal with her mental health.
When she left, she went home. Her parents stuck to their promises and never hit her again. But the damage was done. She was so used to being physically abused that she was spiralling in a cycle of abuse.
Of course there was no way she could tell them about the man so she lied all the time telling them that she was “staying with friends”.
When they were out around people they were the “perfect couple” and everyone thought they were happy. She was good at pretending. After all, hadn’t she been taught how to lie and pretend she was okay when her own parents abused her?
She had NO ONE to talk to. She had no relationship with her parents close enough to be able to tell them what was going on.
At one point there was a party and they went. She drank a lot and passed out. The next day she knew something had happened but couldn’t remember it all. Only small flashes of memory came to her. She still doesn’t know what happened that night. She probably never will.
She did remember that the man’s father arrived at one point and called his son aside and in front of several young women asked him “who do you want to f*ck tonight”? His own girlfriend was right there. Imagine the pain and humiliation she experienced.
If only she had a parent close enough to open up to… after almost a year she’s now finally realised that this was not okay and is classed as intimate partner violence, aka domestic abuse.
She’s tried to cut off contact but all the threats he makes and the fact they have to be in the same place during the week (I can’t elaborate) means that she will keep seeing him.
How different would things have been if she hadn’t been abused? How many people who have been abused get involved with people who end up abusing them as well? If they don’t get the right help and therapy it can continue throughout their lives.
We, as parents, can change things. We can be better people. We can be less judgmental and more understanding. We don’t have to throw away all our beliefs. We just have to meet them where they’re at.
The alternative is this story. A young girl unable to tell anyone her body was covered in bruises and she was scared of her boyfriend. And his father.
Luckily she has found someone to talk to. She’s also got professional help from a therapist. And hopefully with time she will heal from the trauma of her childhood and of this abusive relationship.
She says “if I had a mother I was able to talk to the way I can talk to …. I wouldn’t be in the situation I’m in. I would have been able to discuss with her the things that worried me at the beginning so that I didn’t have to waste almost a year of my life alone with my thoughts, trauma and pain fighting my attachment issues. She would have told me this wasn’t acceptable. It wasn’t normal”.
She cried looking at the photos of her body with the scars of the abuse she suffered…. No one should have to live like this. We all deserve to have our needs met. We all deserve to be cared for and to be able to share our concerns. We all deserve to have felt love from our parents and to love others. We deserve peace. We deserve therapy. We deserve… to be our authentic self without fear of repercussions.
Reading this made my heart stop for a few moments. How can anyone do this to another human? To physically force your wife in front of 30 people to have her genitals cut is barbaric. Inhumane. People doing this should be jailed. Period.
Just IN: Forced By HUSBAND🤦🏽♀️
Kenya: A 30-year-old woman (mother of three) from Murang’a County is nursing serious injuries after she was forced to undergo #FGM by her husband.
She disclosed that she underwent the ordeal on May 9, and that her husband was accompanied by over 30 members of his cult.
They first performed a ritual by slaughtering a goat before subjecting her to the cut.
“One member of the cult, strangled me as others undressed me and started cutting my genital organ with a knife…” She cried.
He also vowed to mutilate their two daughters…
My heart aches to read this. How barbaric can this man and his cult be to force his wife to have FGM done to her?? It makes me so angry that I feel hopeless. I wish there was something I could do to change this…
An Israeli Knesset member has called for the killing of couples involved in mixed marriages during a speech in parliament.
Yitzhak Pindrus is a member of the United Torah Judaism, an ultra-Orthodox party that believes in a homogenous Jewish state and society.
He called for the murder of “people who contribute to miscegenation”, invoking a Biblical story about the murder of a Jewish man and non-Jewish woman while they were making love by lancing a spear through their engaged sexual organs.
I’ve just finished listening to a podcast for the second part of The Single Life, Tell All which airs on Discovery +
I was very moved by what the guys said at the end about Liz and how to support someone you know who may be in the kind of abusive relationship it seems she’s in with Ed.
They made a comment about not blaming or questioning why someone has stayed so long or keeps going back etc. It really touched me and I wanted to share why.
As a survivor of domestic abuse, aka Intimate Partner Violence, with the father of my kids whom I was married to for 17 years, I have these kind of questions asked of me all the time. I never told anyone what had been going on all those years so when it came out and he was arrested I felt like I was made to defend myself.
“Why did you stay so long” “Why didn’t you tell anyone” “Why didn’t you leave the first time you felt abused” “I understand a year or two. But 17??” “Why, why, why, why…..”
What people who haven’t experienced this personally or seen it close up don’t realise is the grooming, control, manipulation, ostracising you from everyone who cares about you, coercion etc etc that happens gradually over time. And if you are young, I was just 19 and he was older at 27, you don’t necessarily know what red flags are or what the warning signs are.
And once you are aware about what is happening you may have kids, you may have been told “I love you so much, you don’t need to learn to drive. I’ll take you anywhere you need” thereby ensuring you’re trapped if you want to leave quickly or get help.
The abuser may have disabled your phone or locked doors to trap you inside. They may have told you countless times how “you’re lucky I’m with you. No other man would want to be with a fat, ugly disgusting person” etc. You’re made to feel grateful that they’re with you because after all no one else would want to be. Or at least that’s what you’re made to believe.
I always feel hurt and defensive when I’m asked why I didn’t get out earlier and other things like that. I realise that I cannot explain why in a matter of a text or a short conversation. If someone asks then they just don’t get it. And I don’t need to educate everyone. There’s enough information online to educate yourself rather than put the onus onto the victim or survivor.
To me it feels like I’m being asked how stupid can you be that you allowed it to go on for so long…. how much of an idiot can you be not to have left after the first couple of times you were abused… and I know I’m not stupid. I was simply groomed and isolated, had my money taken etc.
Even money I got from doing private lessons would have to be hidden in a drawer away from him. But sadly when I was in hospital for years on and off for months at a time, he found the money I saved to leave him and stole it. He proudly told me about it as I was hooked up to machines in hospital unable to move. That’s how vile these people can be.
So please, please don’t blame the victim and make them justify why they stayed with their abuser for a certain amount of time or why they keep going back. The mental abuse and the feeling of needing to be with them because you’ve been brainwashed to believe you can’t live without them is so difficult to comprehend.
Just be a support. Tell them you’re there when they are ready to leave. Ask what it is that might be keeping them, such as financial issues, and see if you’re able to help. Make sure they know they are not alone and you’re not judging them and they’re done nothing wrong other than to fall for the wrong person. Give them contact information for charities or shelters that can help them when they’re ready.
I hope this helps someone understand more about people they care about. Of course this post is my own experience only but it’s an insight into how it might be for someone you care and worry about.
I need to vent. The whole Israel/Palestine situation is driving me insane. As someone who identifies as an Atheist and an Ex-Jew I have so many feelings I’m working through.
I was born into an Ultra Orthodox Jewish family and I’m ashamed to admit the kind of mentality I was indoctrinated with. It took one specific incident that made me see things in a different light, and change my views.I was in a world where absolutely everyone I knew hated Arabs and Palestinians.
I’m using the word “hate” because I want you to see behind the niceties they want to portray the world. So the words I’m going to use are authentic to what I was taught.The indoctrination was so deep rooted.
We were told how we are “The Chosen People” and that we were special and better people than anyone else. Black people were referred to in very derogatory terms, using words in Yiddish which are comparable to the N-word.Anyone who wasn’t Jewish was called derogatory names, and Muslims, and even Caucasian people weren’t spared this.
I knew there was conflict in the Middle East but I wasn’t told exactly why this was happening. All I was told was that the Israelis were the victims and the Palestinians were the oppressors who wanted nothing more than to kill all the Jews around the world.
When 9/11 happened this continued at a rapid pace and it was like a stamp that what they’ve been telling us was true, that Muslims were “barbaric, murderers, animalistic, haters” etc. So, all my life these were the kind of beliefs I was brought up with. At one time there was a Jewish family that were attacked by a Palestinian man and someone was tragically killed. Of course that it horrific. No one would say otherwise. I was no different.
I was angry that this Palestinian man had thought it was okay to kill an innocent person, but then I heard about the way the family would be punished. That in itself made no sense. Why do they bomb the homes of the people who attack Israelis? Why are the families the ones that are now targeted? It didn’t make sense to me.
The perpetrator and victim had both been killed that day. Yet the family of the murderer would face so much simply for being related to the killer. Yes, the IDF generally give the families a warning that they were planning to bomb their homes, but why is that protocol? It doesn’t make much sense to me now, but at the time I felt it was justified. After all, they did kill that man. No?
A few days later I was reading an Orthodox Jewish Newspaper where this whole incident was reported, including the final part where the family’s home was bombed. What I then read made my blood run cold. They reported that several members of the family had not been given the warning and had not managed to leave the home when it was bombed.
Several members of that family were killed, including a new-born baby girl. I asked those around me how that was in any way justifiable. The response I got back then sends chills down me, even decades later. I was told bluntly that ALL Muslims hate Jews and want them wiped out, and that killing any of them would, in the long run, be beneficial because it’s one less Muslim, and “one less Terrorist” in the world.
When I asked about the baby, I was told that she too would become a terrorist when she grew up, or that she would have children or a husband who would kill Jews one day. That is how they tried to rationalise it to me. I wasn’t satisfied with this answer and I kept questioning how killing a tiny baby was okay in their eyes. I saw how they looked at babies who aren’t Jewish as “less than” and in some way subhuman. So the fact that they had no compassion for this family who had lost several family members, including a tiny baby, didn’t shock me.
They openly talk about how “other people”, meaning anyone who isn’t Jewish, don’t have the same feelings about their children. Their own kids were top of the hierarchy in terms of importance of human life, and there was absolutely no value to the life of a Muslim baby. After all, they would grow up to be a terrorist and would kill Jews, so one less was a blessing.
That was the moment that I felt my beliefs waiver. I couldn’t understand how the value of a newborn Jewish baby was seen as something so special and everything had to be done to keep this baby safe. And yet there was no sympathy or sadness for the families losing their babies because the Israeli Army were killing them, and had no compassion for them.
None of this made sense. Life moved on, things happened, and decades passed. When I left the faith 6 years ago I wanted nothing to do with anyone who had these kind of abhorrent views. I felt very much alone until I found a whole world out there who accepted me for having strong opinions about this subject. I wasn’t judged on my background. It was about my views. So I kept speaking out, often facing brutal backlash.
There were times I had dog sh1t on my doorstep, my tyres slashed repeatedly, crowds of Hasidic teenagers chanting outside my home and harassing us that the police had to be called several times, etc. And the hate continued online, and has been going on all this time.
Sadly now it has gone up a few levels. The name calling, the threats, the vile messages, emails, comments, and voice notes I have received in the past couple of weeks has been unbelievable. My social media platforms keep being reported as they want to shut me up and not allow me to speak my truth. Yet I will never stop.
Just today I have been called a Nazi, an antisemite, someone who is worse than the Nazis and who wants the ethnic cleansing of all Jews not only from Israel, but worldwide. In all honesty all I want to scream is can’t you see the pain in the faces of these Palestinian families who are grieving their loved ones… and why do you not seem to care? Oh, wait, I forgot. It’s because an Israeli Jewish baby is “worth more and has more value than Palestinian or Muslim babies”…. That hurts even to write it.
I am in no way saying that the 10 deaths in Israel are not horrific. Of course that is tragic, and I have cried for those people who have lost their lives so tragically. At the same time I see most Jewish people seem not to care about the 200+ people who have been killed in Gaza, including over 60 CHILDREN….. But that is referred by people I know as them “being in the wrong time and place”, and that sickens me. Every death is something that cuts me deep.
This is an example of what I’m referring to.
“Horribly disappointed in you. That your reaction to the bombs falling on Israel by the thousands is a desire to see “free Palestine”. You want the terrorism to secure a free Palestine? Really? You want from the river to the sea Palestine be [Jew] free? Ethnic cleansing is your new cause? You bleeping kidding me? And I don’t even want to hear fallacies, because we all know that Israel’s number one import is holiness. Every religion calls it the Holy land. Under Israel the Christians, Jews and Arabs all have 100% freedom to visit any holy site of their choosing. Including the cave of the patriarchs, the temple mount etc. So you want the land of Israel to be Judenrein (best case scenario apparently is that you wish them to flee and not be slaughtered?) and only the Muslims to have access again to holy sites?”
I never said I wanted ethnic cleansing of anyone at all! The way this person talks to me about my views is outrageous. I just never said or alleged any of those things. I don’t want anyone to be removed, killed, “ethnically cleansed”, “Judenrein” and to get all Jews out of Israel and for the country to be for Muslims only. I simply questioned how anyone is okay with what the Israeli Government and the IDF are doing in Palestine. I specifically stated that this was not a Jewish-Muslim discussion. I reiterated that this was a right wing Zionist and Israeli Government and Palestinian issue, and the discussion has to be based on facts not emotions. Every face I see, regardless of whether they are Israeli or Palestinian breaks my heart….
What the Israeli Government are doing is unacceptable, but that doesn’t make me antisemitic. I can criticise them without being accused of being an antisemite. But sadly some people cannot differentiate between the two. I am someone who is passionate about people, about humanity, and won’t focus on what religions people have. Seeing what is going on in this world, and seeing people being hurt, being killed, being targeted for what others have done is not something I am willing to keep quiet about.
Despite the fact that I was born into the Orthodox Jewish world, I have now left that behind and can see things clearly and have been working out how I feel about all sorts of topics, including this one. Yet now I feel lonelier than ever as almost everyone I know has different views to me. I am careful about who I speak to and am wary of even opening this conversation with most people around me. Fortunately my boyfriend is just as passionate about this but I tend to have to keep my opinions to myself. I can’t afford to lose any more people in my life….