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….
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.
As the Jewish Community get together with their families and friends to celebrate the final moments of Passover, I celebrate with them.
No, I don’t celebrate Passover. I celebrate my own personal freedom and reflect on the journey I have gone on during the last 6 years.
I am no longer a wife but I am a happy woman with a supportive boyfriend who loves me and appreciates the real me.
I am no longer Jewish although I am still the same person with the same heart.
This journey has been hell at times and at times I’ve almost wanted to give up. But I knew that I couldn’t. I wanted to be a strong woman who would be someone others can look up to and ask advice from.
I wanted to be the woman I needed when I was leaving. Someone to listen to me, someone to advise me, and someone to understand the emotions I was going through.
And I can proudly look myself in the mirror and be proud of who I am today. I am a support to countless people and have shared my story in countless media platforms to empower others who want to leave.
I am still the same person I always was and sadly that’s not something that people from my past are able to see. They choose to judge me and threaten me. But I choose to ignore and move on.
I am free – from an ex-Jew on the final days of Passover – this is my moment to smile and be proud of the life I have.
Nothing is worth more than living a life where I am able to choose how I will live and what I will do. It’s not always easy but – for me personally – it’s been the best thing I’ve done.
“In this episode, Emma Park speaks to Eve Sacks about arranged and forced marriages in the Haredi community. Eve is a board member at Nahamu, an organisation which aims to counter religious extremism within Britain’s Jewish population.
Eve argues that the crucial problem with forced marriage is that it deprives participants of their autonomy, as well as putting them at risk of more concrete harms.”
Once again Eve has explained the issues of forced marriage within the haredi community. Of course some more modern communities do the typical arranged marriage.
Sadly, however, there are hundreds of weddings going on every year in London alone and the bride and groom will have met perhaps once or twice and got engaged and met again the next time at the wedding itself.
“Even more disturbing is the lesson that girls are taught from a young age: that women are responsible for controlling male sexual desire. Every girl who has attended a Jewish school (or even Bnei Akiva Machane) has been told at some stage that their outfit will make their male teachers/leaders uncomfortable and cause their male peers to disrespect them.”
“They must cover up, or else they will lead men to sin. This promotes rape culture and perpetuates the false message that women are non-sexual beings and that men are animals with no self-control.”