Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I am writing to you not for sympathy or advice, rather to let other women who are in abusive relationship know not to wait before reaching out for help and support. I, unfortunately, waited too long and the damage has filtered down to my children and grandchildren. My family blames me their situations; they feel if I would have left my husband they might have had a chance at normal lives and decent marriages. And they are right. I have seen that the cancer of abuse has taken root and metastasized down to my grandchildren and the partners they chose. I am just waiting and praying for death to claim me and put me out of my misery.
I am seventy-six years old and came to the states in 1947, plucked from a Polish convent by a Jewish organization created to find Jewish children who had been placed in convents and monasteries. I am the only survivor of my family; I have no memories of them.
I was brought to the United States and placed with a Jewish family. However, I was so traumatized by my experiences that I acted out. I moved from family to family. In one home, I was sexually abused by the men and when I was fourteen, I ran away. A kindly old lady found me rummaging in garbage cans for food and took me to live with her. With her care and love I learned everything about Yiddishkeit and most of what I never learned in schools. She died when I was twenty-two and I mourned her as if she was my own grandmother. She must have felt the same way about me because she left me everything she owned, including the little house she lived in and enough money for me to open a little dress shop. But I was alone, with no one to guide me.
A customer who had taken a liking to me, kept prodding me to meet her cousin, a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, saying it was good for me to start a family of my own. Trusting her, I met her cousin, who turned out to be much older; he had lost a wife and daughter in Auschwitz. He wanted to marry me right away, but I was hesitant and unsure and something about him gave me pause. My customer hounded me for days telling me I was a fool, that this man could give me a good life, security and a family of my own. Finally, I gave in and we married.
Mrs. Bluth, we never had a good moment together. He was short tempered and controlling, demanding and verbally abusive if things were not exactly to his liking. He was a drinker and when he was drunk he would beat me and curse me because I was not his first wife, the one he truly loved and lost in the war. He beat me when I was pregnant and when I held the babies to nurse. He was a brutal husband and an abusive father who cared little for his children. He would beat them and spend very little time with them when he was sober. My children have very few pleasant memories of their childhood; the best times were when he was not home.
Sadly, all of my daughters married men much like their father and my son grew into a man just like his father, one who abuses his wife and torments his children. And now, my oldest grandchildren have chosen spouses just like their abusive parents.
So I sit for days on end and weep for my wasted life, even now that the evil scourge I married has passed away. My therapist insists that there is still time to enjoy life, now that my abuser is no longer able to inflict pain and instill fear in me. Good advice for someone other than myself. I am resigned to suffer the residue of his evilness from the grave, at the destruction he has left behind that is ongoing through my children and grandchildren. I look back at the horrible mistakes that I made in staying with him, because I was afraid of what he would do, afraid of where I should go, afraid of what would become of us if I ran from him. In staying, I sealed my children’s fate and sacrificed the future of my grandchildren.
I hope that anyone who sees themselves even remotely in my tale of sorrow will find the courage to save themselves and their children and run to a better life. I mourn the fact that I was saved from the gas chambers to suffer such misery and I wait for the moment I can join my family in eternal rest.
Your letter left me grieving for your terrible misfortune and for the sorrow that strung your words together. That you wrote to warn others to find the will to escape abuse and seek a better life is an indication of the noble heart that still yearns to be free, even though it is shrouded in regret. I am more than sure that your words have touched many others who are suffering in silence and fear, and for this you have our gratitude and compassion.
As you have requested, this is not advice, but rather suggestion. Simply put, why waste the precious years you have left. You can make a difference in your children and grandchildren’s life. Show them that every moment of life is precious and should be filled with worthwhile and wonderful thoughts and acts. Stop weeping for what could have been and make a positive impact on their lives by showing them that you are a mother who loves and protects her children.
It is never too late to try to right a wrong, or fix what’s broken, and a mother’s love is the strongest human emotion, capable of the most amazing miracles. May the days ahead bring you peace and may you see much happiness and fulfillment in all that you will undertake to achieve.