Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I have often wondered why you always championed the cause of abused women in a marriage, as if they were the only gender who suffered such treatment. You have also stood at the forefront for abused, unloved and unwanted children used in divorce as pawns and chattel in order for women to punish their husbands and seek greater monetary gratification in civil court. This brings me to ask you, are there no abused men on G-d’s earth, only women? Is it at all possible that there are, but they are the minority, ashamed and broken into submissive slavery by their Amazonian wives? I am here to tell you that there are, because I am a by-product of such a union. I will not call it a marriage, because it was the farthest thing from what a marriage should be. I would not even call it a partnership in some sort of business venture that binds both partners, equally, in its operation. This too, it was not.
I was born sixty-eight years ago, the youngest of five with four older sisters and a mother who dominated this female majority household. My father was a meek and gentle soul who, for most of my young life, seemed to cater to her every whim without fuss. My mother was a strict disciplinarian who would not abide any opposition, so my life in our home seemed quite normal to me. As long as I did her wishes all went well. So I couldn’t really say, at that time that I disliked my mother, but I did deeply love my father who was always there to praise me for a job well done, always encouraging me to dream and hope and believe that if I tried hard, those things could come true. So I had structure and discipline from my mother and love and emotional support from my father.
Many nights I could hear my mother growling and yelling at my father in the kitchen, often followed by pounding sounds, sometimes the crash of pots and pans and even breaking glass. I put the pillow over my head to muffle the noise and pray for sleep to come and take me. On some mornings after such events, my father often had bruises on his face and hands and explained, as I stared at him, that some shelves in the kitchen had fallen down and some glassware had shattered and that in his effort to avoid a greater catastrophe, he had tried to catch the shelf and then clean up the broken glass. My mother always found cutting, offensive words to put him down as a loser in life, a husband who couldn’t properly support his family like the other men in the community and how she could have done so much better than him had she not married so young. My father just stood there and took it, never answering back, never saying a bad word or matched insult in return. When no one was around to see, I hugged my father and told him I loved him. And I hated my mother, even my sisters too, because they were also mean to him.
My sisters got married one after the other, but soon two of them were back home, divorced and one with a baby. I was fifteen then and I understood that their husbands were not like my father and would not tolerate such treatment from their wives as had my father. This drove my mother into defensive tirades about how stupid and useless men are and that her daughters were wise and wonderful and undeserving of such men. I decided never to marry and I remain single to this day.
My beloved father, a”h, passed away when I was twenty-eight, I am sure his heart gave out and his tortured soul couldn’t take it anymore. Even after he passed, my mother couldn’t leave his memory alone. She cursed him for giving her a hard life, cursed him for leaving her a widow and penniless (untrue, he left her a hefty life insurance policy which she managed to squander away in short time).
I moved away from home after my father passed, but my home never left me. I am glad to say I did make myself into the man I am because of the love and encouragement of a father who looked past himself and gave me everything that I needed to become an MD/PhD and professor in a college of note. I don’t know why I felt the need to write this letter all these years later, or why I have never seen a male victim write in. I know you are not partial because you have often asked men who have marital issues to write to you. I’m doing this now, as homage to my father, whose yahrzeit was last week. The father who was both mother and father to me and who loved me more than himself. And I truly believe that’s why he never left me for his freedom.
Thank you for listening.
Dr. Elmont Daubry* (name changed)
How sad and heartbreaking your letter is and how sad that the pillar of your life is no longer here to love and guide you. You are absolutely correct that there are abused men, just as there are abused women. It is also true that the number of women in abusive marriages far outnumber the men, and this may well be the very reason men don’t come forward. Most fear it will make them look weak and helpless in the public eye, something that seems to keep them in that trapped, subservient position. Another reason is that they themselves came from homes where their own fathers were meek and subjugated by strong influences and they normalized this behavior that caused them to stay cemented in place, marrying women just like their own mothers. And the trend is passed down from father to son.
I am truly sorry you waited so long to write this letter. It is never too late to turn your life around. Loneliness is never a good address at which to live, not when you’re young or, like yourself, in the golden years. I am glad that you have realized most of your dreams, through your father’s love, but he has also left you with collateral damage. Not all women are like your mother, or for that matter your sisters who were influenced by her posturing, There may still be a lovely lady out there waiting to make your acquaintance. But first, I would greatly encourage you to seek out a professional counselor or therapist to help you understand that what you experienced in childhood was hugely dysfunctional, and I believe with time you will come to see that this is true. There will be a whole new quality of life and it will give you the courage to find that lovely lady who’s been waiting so very long to meet her zivug.