Open letter to my husbands brothers and sister.
I have been your sister in law for 20 years.
We have always had a decent relationship. When any of you needed a place to stay, my house was open to you.
When your elderly and abusive father needed somewher to spend Pesach, I was the one who volunteered to host him, even though he was an angry old man, so much so that my kids were often frightened of his aggressiveness.
I know that you as a family have always looked down on me.
You did not like my clothes and you did not like (jealous perhaps?) the fact that I was not overweight and ugly like the Rebbetzens you married.
I enjoyed wearing bright happy clothes, and I dressed my kids in a similar fashion, while all of you walked around wearing dark, shapeless pieces of cloth hanging loosely from your heavy frames.
And then there was the fact that I listened to music in my house or in my car. But even worse was that I allowed my family to listen to "goishe
" music for example Avrohom Fried, or MBD. If you heard this kind of music playing you would immediately humiliate and degrade my husband for "allowing" his family to be moving towards Of The Derech.
Although you viewed me in a negative manner, I was still able to maintain some semblance of family and friendship. I was closer to one of you in particular (you know who you are).
Whenever M yelled at me, or tried to kick one our children out of the house, because he felt they were chutzpadik
or dressed in a way he didnt approve of, I would call you on the phone and cry and pour out my heart.
You would tell me to call up a Rabbi and ask him what to do.
But the Rabbis I called never had any advice for me.
I remember one time that M told me that I had to choose between my daughter and himself.
That I could not "have" both.
When the words came out of his mouth and sunk into my brain I felt as though I was suffocating. How could I choose between my husband and my child?
I called you dear sister-in-law and sobbed my heart out.
I begged you to help me, and you tried.
You spoke to your brother and told him that he needs to work on himself and that he must not threaten me.
But M never listened to you, and his systematic emotional torture of myself and my family increased.
As time went on my situation deteriorated. I was seeking you out more and more and there were even times when the pain and fear were so overwhelming I told you that I would rather die than have to live one more day with M's abuse.
I recall that you began to tell me that you could no longer listen to me describe my failing marriage.
At some point you said that you could not listen to my stories of your brother abusing us because it was too triggering and reminded you of your own childhood, and your fathers abusive treatment of yourself, your siblings and your mother. You also refused to allow me to talk about what he was doing to me in the bedroom. You explained that you would not be able to sleep at night if I described the things that your brother was doing to me.
Do you know how isolated and scared I felt, when even you were no longer able to help me?
You watched from afar for 19 years as your brother tortured us.
You were aware of what was happening.
You knew that he had physically assaulted his first wife and had been arrested, and you were aware that I had been abused in MY first marriage. You knew that I was a vulnerable woman without supportive family or friends to stand up for me against your brother.
All of you were aware of all the above- beginning with your brothers miserliness with regards to money and all the way to his physical and emotional abuse.( I will give you the benefit of the doubt that none of you were ware of the sexual abuse)
You were aware yet you did nothing to help me and my young children.
I finally built up courage to leave him and all of you immediately turned your backs upon me and my children.
Not only did you pretend that we did not exist, but one of you - the Rosh Yeshivah accompanied your brother to court numerous times and helped him lie to Judge Morgenstern.
One of you allowed me to talk to you on your cell phone.
After the conversation I felt unheard and hurt.
So I opened up my heart and sent you a bold and couragous text.
I described the pain and suffering I had suffered at the hands of your brother. I needed you to know and understand me, I wanted your empathy and your learned wisdom to offer advice for my anguished sole.
I opened up to you and told you things I had never before shared with anyone.
I confided in you regarding the sexual abuse I had suffered.
I felt better once I had told you what he had done to me, until you returned my text with one sentence:"I forgive you telling me lies and loshon horah about my brother, because the Torah says that he who talks in anger shall not be held accountable"
I felt like an animal who was being kicked over and over until he falls over and can no longer stand up.
I was alone and I needed your family.
I was so naive, and I still believed in goodness of the human spirit so I waited for you to call me to find out if I was ok, and how I was managing with no money.
Alas you did not call.
Not one of you contacted me.
Instead you made harassing phone calls to my cell phone telling me to "give him one more chance
You were oblivious to my pain and anguish.
All you cared about was the bad name you might get when the community found out that your brother was getting divorced a second time.
The day that the Rosh Yeshivah came to my house and tried to force his way through my front door without my consent, was the day that I knew deep inside myself that your family of "Benei Torah", which is how you proudly describe yourselves was nothing more than a way to hide your real selves. You wear the long black coats and carry seforim under your arms, while your women smirk and boast about how they work on their tznius and davening.
And the naive and unsuspecting people in our communities believe that you are a truly pious family.
They do not know what is hidden under the black and white garments.
They cannot see the anger and bitterness in your souls.
I thank Hashem for opening my eyes to your betrayal and for helping me see who you really are.
I hope for your sake that one day Gd can forgive.