I have read your articles for a number of years now and appreciate the advice given. Here is my story.
I got married when I was very young. My husband managed to conceal his true nature before the wedding, but it already surfaced on the wedding night and throughout Sheva Berachot. I was too ashamed to tell anyone of the pain and humiliation that I was subjected to. It took many years before I could begin to talk about this with a therapist.
We started off as many young couples do, being supported by my parents while he was in yeshiva… except he wasn’t in yeshiva. He slept late (past 2 p.m.), went to movies, and viewed online porn throughout the night. He also kept demanding more financial support from my parents. He needed to know about every cent I spent, while he had free access to all the money my parents provided. He began to badmouth my parents, telling stories that made both my parents and myself suspicious of one another.
After a few years he decided to go to work. By that time he had successfully alienated me from my parents and many friends. He was diagnosed with an STD, but it was too late. I was already carrying a child. He was unable to maintain a job, and I began to juggle various jobs, even though my pregnancy was difficult.
When my daughter was just a toddler we separated. I began to fear for my daughter’s safety and could no longer make excuses for him. It was excruciating, but I am Baruch Hashem in a better place today.
After two years in Beis Din, I finally, miraculously, received a Get. I wish this were the end of this dreadful story.
Since the issues of concern were of such a delicate nature, I shared them only with my parents and professionals – while my husband spread horrible lies about me, managing to turn the entire neighborhood against me. My family lives abroad and I spent many a Shabbos alone. Even walking out of my house or going to the store became difficult because of the “looks” and comments.
If you think this is in my head, it is not! I was subjected to very real bullying.
I am once more in the midst of yet another custody battle (that he initiated), while my parents are tormented by continuous lawsuits against them (by my ex). My daughter is suffering as well.
The Yamim Noraim have come and gone, and I cannot help wondering: This is the third Yom Kippur since they have not only stopped being my friends, but have harassed and humiliated me! Where are the middot of a Jew? I, Baruch Hashem, have supportive friends and family, but they don’t live where I do.
I hope you print this article so that people learn to stop listening to Lashon Ha’ra and create situations of Sinat Chinam and Machloket.
My suffering seems endless
The ignorance of the people in your neighborhood is appalling. For shame! While you conduct yourself with dignity, disclosing details of your personal life only to your parents and professionals your husband spreads vicious rumors about you, to whoever gives him the time of day. And, sad to say, some people are only too happy to have something to gossip about.
Our holy Torah begins with, of all things, a lesson on Lashon Ha’ra. The snake badmouthed Hashem, and Chava believed all the nonsense the snake fed her – thus turning the future of mankind on its head.
And have we learned ? Hardly. Unfortunately, too many people are still eager to ingest a piece of juicy gossip. “Mi ha’ish he’chafetz chaim ” writes Dovid HaMelech in Tehillim. “Who is the man who wants life? Guard your tongue from evil…”
In fact, there are numerous references in the Torah on the subject of gossip and slander. In Vayikra, for instance, we find, “Lo seilech rachil b’amecha” (you shall not go as a peddler of gossip among your people), which is immediately followed by, “You shall not stand aside while your brother’s blood is shed.”
Summed up in the verses of Mishlei 6:16-19: A person who causes bad feelings between friends is deemed evil and is despicable in the eyes of Hashem.
ArtScroll’s Chofetz Chaim: A Daily Companion cites the above and much more. Everyone would benefit from reading and rereading the volume.
Being unfamiliar with your personal story, I cannot really ask or comment on why you have not moved away from a place that has treated you so shabbily. By the same token, you certainly have nothing to be ashamed of and can hold your head high knowing that you have behaved properly. It is the gossip mongers who should be hanging their heads in shame and begging your forgiveness.
You could have unburdened your heart by confiding in any one or more of your friends, yet you chose not to in order to avoid speaking ill of your ex – while they have chosen to believe his lies about you.
You write to alert others to the pitfalls of the scourge of Lashon Ha’ra, and every one of us needs to take your message to heart. In the zechus of prodding us to consider the ramifications of failing to heed the laws of Shmiras HaLashon, may Hashem grant you much hatzlachah in surmounting the difficulties you face in your ongoing battle.
Take strength in knowing that the truth is always exposed to the One watching, the One Who is your Guardian 24/7 – so that you really are never alone.
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We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 338 Third Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11215