During the past few days I have been reading about Perry Reich. For those of you who dont follow the news, she is a young woman who has "escaped" from her Lakewood life and is becoming a model. I have read the blogs and there are many differences of opinion as to what the truth is. There are even pictures of her four well dressed adorable kids being posted all over the internet. I feel terrible for those children, and I also feel that Perry has been liberated in some way.
I do not know what her story is, although she claims abuse.
I only know what i have read, which may or may not be true.
The parts I do know are my own experiences in the frum community.
You have read some of my story, and you know that there have been many perpetrators in my life, beginning when I was but five years old. Most of the people who perpetrated these crimes against me were frum. (on the outside at least)
I understand from reading the literature on sexual abuse and from being in therapy that pedophiles and wife beaters are very sick individuals.
My experience growing up frum has been one of decades of silence and cover ups.
No one wanted to hear 'loshon Hora". I often think that my (current) husbands family would have been glad if my suicide attempts would have been completed, because then the truth about their father and siblings would never be exposed.
My husband, who is a Rebbi in a frum Yeshivah has abused me for many years.
He continues to abuse me as we speak- emotional abuse.
He tells my kids that because mommy has custody she has to buy everything for you.
"Sorry", he tells my 13 year old, "You chose the wrong parent"!
My son had asked him to buy him lunch for a school trip.
He makes me wait and wait for the few dollars of child support he gives me.
He has not given me a Get.
The worst part of all of this is that his "choshuvah" family- well known in the community sit back and watch in stone cold silence.
They tell people that I am hallucinating, and that i am a crazy woman.
When I tried to tell one of his brothers about the physical violence that my husband perpetrated against me, he told me that he would forgive me for lying, because it says in the Torah that when a person talks in anger, they are not responsible for their words!
they constantly use Halocha to their own advantage. And when Halocha doesnt quite fit in with their needs (like sodomy) it is dismissed with a wave of a hand.
My husbands sister actually begged me not to relay any details of the sexual abuse i endured at the hands of her brother,
"I will not be able to sleep at night if you tell me", she told me.
SHE will lose a few nights sleep??
What about the years and years i couldnt sleep because of the pain that was being inflicted upon me, while they all knew what he was doing and did nothing to stop him.
Today they still back him.
Every single last one.
"poor brother, his crazy wife took his children and left him.... okay he's not the easiest guy to deal with, but his wife???"
He was married before I married him, and he abused his first wife the same way. She left him very quickly- she was much stronger than I. He was arrested then too, for physical violence, and his family bailed him out so that he could go on to abuse another innocent woman and her children.
(i will be continuing with my account of my suicide attempt and subsequent hospitalization)
I lay on my bed feeling disconnected and alone.
The sun streamed through the window its rays dancing on my blanket creating a glow of color. Voices floated through the open window; children calling out to one another in play.
I wanted to get up and run out onto the street.
I wanted to shout and scream and tell the whole world what was happening to me.
I needed another human being to tell me that everything would be okay and that I didnt have to die.
Alas there was no one.
There was not one person in this world that I could reach out to and ask for help.
I reached over and pulled open the drawer next to my bed.
I grabbed a container of pills and unscrewed the lid.
I stared at the small white pills overflowing in my palm.
I couldnt think rationally.
My brain felt heavy with thoughts and feelings that I could no longer decipher.
I didnt want to die, yet I could not think of a way to live.
I grabbed my bottle of water and began to swallow the pills.
I am not sure how many I took before my stomach began to heave.
Everything happened very quickly after that.
Somehow I managed to text my doctor who called my husband.
Hatzolah was called and the next thing i knew I was in the emergency room. I still had some pills which I held tightly in my fist.
I tried to swallow them, but the paramedic saw me and took them away.
I dont recall much of what transpired after that.
I remember doctors coming and going and then I remember being forced to drink some vile black charcoal stuff which made me vomit.
I remember lying in the hospital bed feeling sick and weak and wondering how i screwed up so badly- I couldnt even kill myself properly!
Much later a doctor informed me that there was no damage from the overdose, but that I had pneumonia.
I was overwhelmed, and alone.
I was isolated from any friends I had made over the years.
My immediate family did not live in the vicinity.
I felt as though i was i was falling into a dark hole, from which there was no escape. My husbands words added to the profound hopelessness I was feeling. I internalized the things he told me, and very soon I began to believe that I was a useless human being, a terrible mother and unworthy of being a wife to my husband.
It was then that I decided that death had to be better than the chronic pain I was feeling.
One morning when the house was empty I lay in bed with a bottle of prescription medication in my hand.
I took a few pills and swallowed them.
So I took a few more.
I felt calm and relaxed.
I knew i was doing the right thing.
I knew that Hashem wanted me to return to Him under the "Kissai Hakovod".
I also knew that the pain had become too much to bear.
Adult survivors of incest or molestation who live in the frum community do not have easy lives. Yes I know there are many of you out there who are suffering from all kinds of problems. Whether they be physical or emotional.
When a family in our community is struck with a terminal illness such as cancer, they are immediately contacted by many wonderful organizations who are standing by, trained and ready to help the family in distress.
When word goes around that the parent of a family with children has become ill. Assistance for this family is set into motion almost immediately. Neighbors will make sure that the children have dinner every night. Others will attend to the younger children, and yet other kind people will offer transportation to and from treatment centers.
Alas when a victim of sexual abuse or rape comes forward, the first thing that is done is protection of the offender at all costs. The victim is then told to keep quiet because the abuser might lose his parnosa, or in some cases the victim is not even believed.
Even years after a person has been sexually abused, he or she often still suffers emotionally on a daily basis.
I was molested by my father, and then went on to become the wife of two separate abusers. During my current marriage, every time I managed to get back on my feet my husband pushed me all the way back down.
At some point in therapy, I was told that as long as I was being victimized in the present it would not be possible for me to heal from the past. However I was not strong enough emotionally to realize that I was married to a very abusive man and that I had a right to live without being terrorized. It took me nearly 19 years to be able to stand up and say enough is enough!
During the years of abuse , I was hospitalized a few times. Looking back it was the only way I could get a break from being tortured by my husband.
The abuse I endured went in cycles. My husband would sexually, physically (throw things at me) and emotionally abuse me. He would tell me what a terrible mother I was and that all our children would go off the Derech. He told me that I was worthless, and that I could not survive without him. He warned me that If I ever tried to leave I would be a beggar on the streets with no family and no children. He would make sure that I would never see my children again.
I cried a lot during those times, and when he came to me to apologize, I forgave him. He always promised he would never do it again, and he explained that the reason he said those things to me was because he loved me and the children so much, he had to make sure we were doing the right thing. I believed him because I had to believe him.
Where was I going to go?
I had no family and he would not allow me to have friends.
I was trapped, and I had to make the best of it. About 8 years into our marriage things escalated, to the point where I was not coping. The cycle of abuse continued, and I had a houseful of young children. I sank into a deep depression and all I could think of was how to end my life. I could see no hope and no future. I loved my children but by now, I really believed I was a bad mother and they would surely be better off without me.
One day when all the kids were in school, and my husband was at his job as a Rebbi, I lay in bed in a haze of emotional pain.
My body felt heavy, and all I could see was black fog in front of my eyes. I could not bear the pain even a moment longer. I was alone in this world of sorrow and anguish. There was no one who could possibly help me, I had nowhere to turn and nowhere to go. I was sick and tired of being hurt, humiliated and abused.
I wanted to escape, and the only way I knew how was peaceful death.
Why do I seek assistance from the very people who choose not to help me? This is not the first time I have done that. During my marriage to M I did the same thing. Every time he hit me I called his mother!
How stupid of me to look for help from his mother whose only interest was to protect her son. It is something I need to think about, because I have been moving in similar directions again in the present.
I feel fearful that once the order of protection is lifted, my husband will have more access to me and my children. I feel great fear about what he is capable of doing when he gets angry. Instead of reaching out to friends or to my lawyer, I call HIS family, and ask them to help us. It seems that I do not learn from my mistakes. I think that I still have faith in humanity and I believe that his brothers and sisters will see how bad he has been and will want to reach out to their nieces and nephews (and even me) and help them.
Alas this is all but a fantasy and it is not happening. I need to stop asking for their help, and go to the people who actually want to help me.
PTSD symptoms have been rearing their ugly heads this week. I wonder if it has anything to do with some medication that I abruptly stopped taking. I have been taking a really awesome medication for about a year now. For those of you who use cutting as a defense mechanism, and you want to stop, this medication really works well. I don’t want to mention the name on this blog, because I am not a doctor, but I will say that taking these meds have reduced my urges to almost zero. It is pretty amazing that I have had this addiction for most of my life, and I am very nearly completely cured. I believe that it is also due to my hard work in therapy- working on the issues removes the emotional pain which is what causes me to cut in the first place. However the medication really played a big role in this part of my healing.
The reason why I stopped cold turkey is because my pharmacy informed me that they can no longer acquire this particular drug. I was shocked because it had never occurred to me that I would be forced to stop a medication because it was no longer available!
I had no choice.
I had finished my months’ supply, and I couldn’t obtain a refill. The urges returned quite quickly, and I felt shaky and my body went from hot to cold in quick succession. I experience some difficulty in being aware of physical discomfort as opposed to emotional pain. This is part of the dissociation people get when they have suffered sexual abuse (or other abuses) as children. Often their minds and bodies feel completely separate. I have become much better at identifying the physical from the emotional. Identifying feelings is a very helpful way to work on the challenge of self -awareness.
I feel stupid when I call my doctor and explain the symptoms I am having, and then he tells me that this medication does not have those side effects so it’s probably all in my mind. Therefore I avoid contacting my Doctor for as long as possible, which is a bad idea when it comes to psychiatry. Depression can escalate quite quickly, and if one is not careful it can turn into a disaster.
I finally did reach my doctor, and together we were able to locate a place where they have the medication i needed. So now I can taper off slowly the way it should have been done originally.
I do feel much better.
Is it a placebo effect?
Or is it real?
Does it even matter?
There is so much going on at the moment that my mind cannot encompass both past and present all at once.
A couple of days ago I got a phone call from my (current) husband’s ex-wife. She relayed to me her own horror stories about what her then husband had done to her. She was forced to pay him $20,000 for her Get, otherwise he would have happily left her to remain an agunah. They were married for less than 2 years, but nonetheless he apparently found the time to torture her
She told me that on her wedding night, he forced himself upon her, even as she was screaming in pain. The next day she was at the doctor’s office having her torn flesh sewn up.
What an animal!
An animal disguised as a Rebbi of young boys.
I listened to many of her stories, until I could listen no more. Afterwards I could not stop thinking about what my husband had done to his former wife. For some reason all my years of suffering became “real”. I think until now I had not really and truly accepted that I have been married to an evil man for nearly 20 years. It is a difficult thing to wrap my brain around, and it makes me feel sad and lonely.
I am feeling a tremendous amount of fear. My order of protection is due to expire in less than a month. I had been feeling somewhat safe, due to the fact that he was arrested once (because he grabbed my arm and twisted it) which did not make him happy. In addition I just became aware that this was his second arrest, his first due to his punching his ex-wife. He is very scared of being arrested further, which is the reason for his good behavior during the last few months. Now, however my lawyer has advised me that if I want to get a decent settlement I need to show good - will and offer him something. That “something” will be to cancel the order of protection.
When I heard his ex-wife’s stories I panicked.
I began to conjure up images of him finding me and breaking into my house to rape or injure me. As much as I try, I cannot let go of these thoughts. I know they are not helpful, yet they crowd my brain and overwhelm my being.
His brother - the Rosh Yeshivah and his sister the Rosh Yeshivahs wife, view me with contempt and resentment, because in their eyes I have caused the downfall of their brother. They are aware of his abusiveness, (their father is similar in many ways) yet they choose to remain silent. When I spoke to my sister-in-law many months ago, before she cut me out of her life, she begged me not to tell her about her brothers sexual abuse because she “would not be able to sleep at night”.
What does that say about this Rebbetzen? This same woman has a heter from her Rabbi that she is not obligated to visit her old father because of his abusive behavior towards her, even after so many years.
His family takes steps to protect themselves but they do not care about the danger I and my children face on a daily basis.
How is it that someone steeped in Torah study can behave in this manner?
I feel as though my husband has stripped me of my most basic needs. He has taken away my religion- something which I once valued and which was a positive part of my life. He has also taken away the last vestiges of trust in the human condition that I may have held onto after my experience with M.
I trust no one besides for Gd.
I trust Him, but I trust that He likes all people besides for me.
(First Marriage to M)
A month later I found out I was pregnant. I was very happy, and I believed that now M would stop abusing me. Surely he would see that I was giving him a baby, and soon we would be a family. Alas it was not to be, because instead of stopping, his anger towards me worsened.
There was nothing I could do to make him happy. He found numerous reasons to fly into a rage, which would then lead to him punching, slapping and kicking me. I recall when I was about 6 months pregnant, and visibly showing he kicked me hard in my stomach. After that I was in constant fear that my baby had been damaged.
Then he began to threaten me. He told me that if I ever tell anyone what he is doing, he will kill me and my baby. I knew what he was capable of, so I kept my secret well.
M was careful, he never left any marks on my body that might be visible to the world outside. He was an instructor of martial arts, and he knew where to place his punches. I had black and blue marks on my upper arms and thighs. He never touched my face, or lower legs and arms. My pain was hidden beneath my clothes and deep inside my soul.
At that time I began to daven a lot. I had no human being to talk to- Hashem was my only source of comfort. Whenever M left me in a crumpled heap on the floor, I would crawl to my bed and pull out my Tehilim. I davened from the depths of my heart. I begged Hashem to save me from this monster. I cried an ocean of tears asking that Hashem bring me a Yeshuah,
Ten months after we got married I went into labor, and M and his mother took me to the hospital. They refused to allow me to call my own mother to tell her that I was about to give birth. I wanted her to be with me, but M was adamant that only his mother remain present.
As I went into active labor, M and his mother stood over my bed and told me in no uncertain terms that I had better not make a sound while I was having this baby. M told me that if I so much as cry out he I would be severely punished. I was scared because I had experienced his punishments once too many times.
I was in labor for about 12 hours, and through those hours of agony, I made not a sound. Barely a whisper drew forth from my mouth. The pain was tremendous, but M’s threats were much worse.
After I had been taken to my room, M came to tell me he was leaving and then he leaned forward and in a loud whisper told me that I had given birth to a mouse. That my baby looked so disgusting what kind of mother was I to give birth to such a creature.
Needless to say I spent the next two days crying inconsolably. I knew my baby was perfect but the wickedness of his words penetrated deeply and I could not be consoled.
continued(First marriage to M) M did not wait very long to begin abusing me. In fact the first time he hit me was on the night of our wedding.
, We arrived in our cozy apartment that we had rented. His family drove us from the wedding hall, which was unusual and not what I was used to. My siblings who were married before me, rented cars or limos and went to hotels.
I stepped out of the car and still wearing my wedding gown we entered the apartment. I turned around and lo and behold his entire family came trooping in behind us. Why were they here? I found out soon enough, apparently non frum people or goyim have a party after their wedding- at least that’s what they told me.
They had brought drinks and food and they settled in to enjoy their party. I was dumbfounded, I didn’t know what to do. I quickly ran into my bedroom to remove my gown and put on my sheitel. (wig)
I felt confused and embarrassed, because I didn’t understand what was happening, and I didn’t know how to be at a mixed party with beer and wine. I had never before mingled with the opposite sex, and here I was on my wedding night, forced to be at a party that I didn’t want.
It seemed like hours before they left, but they did and my husband and I were finally alone. We went into the bedroom where the beds were made with our crisp new linen. M pulled down the covers and in the middle of his bed was a pile of dirt. I looked at him in horror.
Hand on my mouth I gasped ”Who did this?”
“You should know who put the dirt there, it must have been you!” he said.
“Me?” I almost laughed. “Of course it wasn’t me.”
I glanced at M and noticed that his face had become red and his eyes were dark with anger. I was startled, I didn’t understand why he was getting so angry. We could just clean the bed, put clean sheets on and that would be the end.
All of a sudden he turned to me and snarled, “Your sisters did this, they are so jealous of you that they did this terrible thing.”
I looked at him in astonishment. My sisters would not even think up such an idea, it was ludicrous to even think they could or would. But he was adamant that someone in my now evil family was trying to destroy our marriage before it had even begun. I tried to defend my family but he refused to listen. And then before I knew what was happening, he raised his hand and slapped me hard across my face. My hand flew to my face in surprise and pain. I reeled back in complete shock. No one had ever struck me before and I was stunned. He raised his hand a second time and this time punched my upper arm. This time I tried to defend myself and I began to hit him back. But he was much stronger than me, and I didn’t stand a chance. I learned very quickly not to fight back, it only made him more angry and much more dangerous.
This was my wedding night. I was being beaten and humiliated by my very own husband, and I had no where to go and no one to tell.
I was alone with this violent man and there was nothing I could do about it.
(First marriage to M)
My life became a living hell.. I could not eat and I could not sleep. I was wracked with a terrible guilt at what I had done, (only years later was I told that I was a victim, and not to blame). I “knew” with a deep certainty that I would be going straight to Gehenom as soon as I died. The days passed in a fog of shame guilt and intense emotional pain. I did not question the Rabbi’s advice since there was no one else for me to ask to verify this Rav’s understanding of my situation.
I told my parents that I wanted to marry M, and they were shocked. My mother tried to dissuade me by telling me to leave the state and go and stay with a friend. My father however told me to marry him. “If you like him- (not even love) then marry him”.
I did not want to marry M.
I was afraid of him, and I hated the things he was doing to my body. But I did not know how to stop him. I didn’t know how to say no- and I had no one to talk to, to verify the truth about what he was doing to me.
He continued to take me to places to have sex. We never went all the way, but the things he did sickened me, and I could never shower enough. I felt unclean and disgusting all the time.
My parents refused to participate in the wedding preparations. They gave me no money and no emotional support. Once again I was alone in the world trying to survive. M was not really frum- so I found out- his family was not even religious. My father agreed to learn Gemorah with him, and M did just to get into his good books. In retrospect my father had an ulterior motive. He wanted me out of the house and married, so that the responsibility would fall on another man. He must have known that I would recall the years of molestation and he was scared. Marrying an abusive guy was a win-win situation for my father. Any consequences could now be blamed on M.
I tried very hard to make my wedding as normal as possible. I don’t know why I bothered, because the whole situation was anything but.
M tortured me by telling me that he planned to wear a white tuxedo to our Chassunah. I was filled with the potential shame my family would feel were that to happen. Until I saw M under the Chuppah I didn not what he was going to wear. In the end he wore a regular suit, hat and kittel.
I put the whole wedding together myself. I found a gemach who would help me, and my future mother in law sewed my gown. I didn’t see the finished gown until right before the wedding, and it turned that she had made the neckline completely open. I had to stick pins in to keep it closed.
My parents and siblings attended my Chassunah. At least that much they allowed themselves to do for me. When it was over, M’s parents drove us to our newly rented apartment. As we drove away from the wedding hall, there was aloud clanging sound. Apparently someone had put some metal pieces to the back of the car, so that when we drove it made an tremendous din. My shame knew no bounds. I realized that this is what Goyim do to their honeymoon cars. There was nothing I could do, except watch as the appalled faces of my family disappeared as we rounded the corner away from the wedding hall.