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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 10/20/06

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Dear Rachel,

As I read the letter by “Can’t endure any more” (Chronicles 8-4), I wished that I could wipe the tears of that married wife and mother who has suffered such horrible emotional abuse by her husband. Your advice was so true, and I hope helpful! I pray that this poor soul does heed your advice to find a rav/rebbetzin to help her out of that abusive marriage.

I too had an emotionally abusive husband whose degrading words in front of my family, friends and our son caused a great deal of pain and damage. And despite the fact that I did get out and have, Baruch Hashem, a healthy self-esteem intact, I still find that I am defending myself to those whom my ex belittled me to. I always have to prove to these people that I am not lazy. I work part time and struggle to be a single mom. I really don’t care what they think, but it does hurt me at times to have to explain to my son that I am not at all the way his dad depicted me during our marriage.

I pray that my son does not become like his dad. I teach him not to be verbally abusive to women, and I hope that he will grow up to be a respectful husband and dad some day. Luckily I got out of my abusive marriage while my son was young, but even eight years of being exposed is damage enough to need to be worked on every day.

I hope this woman gets out before any more damage can be inflicted on her and her precious children. Even if going out on your own is hard, the effort to have a quiet peaceful home is well worth it. Sure, I struggle at times, especially with finances, but the security of not having someone degrade me at every turn and not having my son exposed to that Avodah Zarah is worth the sacrifices I have made!

Many people don’t understand my views on this, but only through experiencing this type of ordeal, G-d forbid, can one understand how painful it is. My message for the woman who wrote that heartbreaking letter is this: It won’t be easy. But when you have the first quiet Shabbat without your abusive husband’s tirades and make your own Kiddush or have a Bar Mitzvah-aged son make it, or you are visiting another’s household and feel a sadness at having no husband, ask yourself which is better: to be slightly lonely, or to live in a battlefield home.

And the worst sin is to degrade any person in the world, and even worse is to do it to your spouse and children. All the mitzvot one does are worthless with this sinful behavior.

Thanks Rachel, for bringing this issue to light and for giving me this chance to share my experience, and for the wonderful work that you do here.

Baruch Hashem, I found my way out!

Dear Found,

Many readers, no doubt, identify with you and know exactly where you are coming from. The fortunate ones will have found a way out of their deplorable conditions and will have hopefully acquired some peace of mind and heart.

Anger is a factor that figures strongly in stormy relationships. According to our sages, uncontrollable rage is tantamount to idolatry (Avodah Zarah) − for anger is a display of arrogance, which in essence negates the omnipresence of our G-d. An enraged individual is immersed in his own importance and fails to recognize that it is not he (or she) who runs the world’s state of affairs. A temper tantrum may be somewhat acceptable of a child who is still in the process of acquiring maturity − which engenders a healthy sense of self. The adult who demonstrates an abnormal need to be in control, is self-worshipping − hence the Avodah Zarah correlation.

While too many of us allow the stresses of life to overtake our better sense when we let our frustrations out on our nearest and dearest, a marriage that is devoid of the key elements of kindness and respect will not endure. Where a wife (or husband) is the consistent object of derision and disrespect, pulling the plug on the relationship may be the only way to salvage the aggrieved party’s self-worth and sanity. And yes, a child is far better off coming from an abusive home than continuing to live in one.

This is not to imply that such drastic measure is always the answer. When partners share a mutual desire to work things out, where there still exists that spark of love, and both parties are willing to invest the hard work it would take to turn the tide, the marriage stands a good chance of surviving.

Evidently, you took the road that was right for you, despite the difficulties you faced in undertaking such a life-altering transition. As for your need to defend yourself to others, including to your son, your best defense against your ex-husband’s allegations is to be yourself and to let your deeds speak for you. Your bearing and performance is far more indicative of who you are than anything that anyone will purport. You are under obligation to give an accounting only to the Ribono Shel Olam, the all-seeing One.

May you have much hatzlacha and gratification in raising your son and in forging a personal relationship with a genuine ezer kenegdo − a true partner with whom sharing every facet of your life will prove most satisfying and fulfilling.

Thank you for sharing.

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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