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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 2/27/09

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Dear Rachel,

There are no words in the dictionary that could possibly depict the horrors I endured during my 14 years of marriage. The cruel and inhumane treatment I suffered by my ex-wife defies description. She constantly and deliberately belittled me by calling me names such as idiot and jerk and by making it clear that she did not like me or my family. Had she simply withheld her affection – without covering her face while saying that she could not stand to look at me, or without saying that she felt like worms were crawling all over her whenever I came near her, life would have maybe, been a bit more tolerable.

At times she bit me as she harangued me, and if I would ever say something about her coming home late from somewhere or about her ceaseless phone conversations, I’d be in trouble. Yet, if I was ever delayed getting home, she would berate me to no end.

She played games with my psyche, being nice to me one day, then not talking to me at all the next day. I’d be so confused as to which one of us was being abused or abusive that I would often believe it was me who did wrong.

The fact that Jewishness means a lot to me and was not number one on her agenda did not help matters any. If I would ask her, for instance, to make a blessing, a brachah on something and would mention that women were also obligated to do so, she would make fun of me. She constantly did things she knew I would not approve of just to anger and spite me.

The words “thank you” were not in her vocabulary. In all the years we lived with her visually impaired sister in order to help her, I never heard a word of appreciation.

One day she decided she was bored and took up nursing school. Her husband and three children who could have used her attention didn’t count. All at once, I had to fill the role of both mom and dad to our children. Whenever I needed to give voice to my frustration, I did it carefully while asking her not to hit me. So, instead, she badmouthed me to her teachers and friends – while I was the one who bore all the physical marks from the blows that would rein down on me whenever I dared call her on anything.

Before she sprung a divorce action on me, she made sure to max our credit card. She also tormented me by giving me the silent treatment – in essence, abandoning me; we lived separately yet together since she was hardly ever home. And when she was, she spent all her time on the phone or at her computer until after I was asleep.

My children tell me she does the same now. They call me when they get home from school to ask where their mother is, and I leave my job to get them. Even their schools know to call me since they cannot reach the children’s mother.

Her “Eating Disorder” makes her disconnect from the world around her. At times she would pass out because she had “forgotten” to eat. When I would urge her to eat, she’d refuse and tell me not to force her. She was terrified of food, of gaining weight, and of being out of control. She would display personality changes, irritability and withdrawal. Her entire self-esteem was based on her size.

Just like she disconnected from her feelings of hunger, she would disconnect from her feelings for us (her husband and children). She had difficulty living with herself, in her own skin – how could she possibly provide a safe haven for her family ?

Her assault and abusive behavior towards me caused me to sink into a deep depression; I felt I was all alone in the world. I was totally in the dark about any of this before our marriage. (Her Rebbetzin had advised her not to tell me of her problems.) I was open with her, but she was not open with me.

What further infuriates me are the lies she spreads about me. As a woman, she gets away with it all – with putting me down, with hitting, biting and ridiculing me. Her maligning is, I suppose, payback for my not responding in kind, for merely asking her to care about me and our children and for expecting her to spend some time with us, her family. If I were a woman, I have no doubt that there would be no shortage of people who would come to my aid and defense.

I feel very wronged by a world that allows such a person to walk free after all the offenses she has committed against me. I granted her the Jewish divorce (Get) but the civil will not be forthcoming; she did not keep her word.

There was a time when I suffered from abused person syndrome, when I believed that I was at fault and to blame for the mistreatment I was subjected to. Looking back, I shudder as I relive the pain and misery I endured.

There is a double standard in this world, with no justice for man. Woman, the so-called “weaker sex,” really gets away with everything. I put her through school and give her alimony – why, because I am a male? She continuously defames me with her lies, to make certain I do not stand a chance of remarrying. Why can’t she accept that it is over and get on with her life?

We seem to have forgotten that the first woman on earth gave the first man on earth to eat of the apple so he should not live and so that she could marry someone else. So who is selfish – man or woman? Who was wronged? Who had the problem, and who is the snake?

Victimized by a woman

Answer next week

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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