On more than one occasion I told my husband that I wanted to leave because I couldn't take any more abuse. His response was the classic response of an abuser. He pointed to the door and with a smirk said,
"Go on - leave! You can go right now, what are you waiting for? But remember, once you walk through that door you will be on your own. You will have no money and you will be on the street and I will make sure that you never ever see your children again!"
I believed him and I felt full of fear. I knew I couldnt make it on my own, He had told me so many times that I was a terrible mother and that "when" all our children go off the Derech it will be my fault. He told me that the only reason I was alive and well was due to his loving kindness and that without him, I had zero chance of survival. I had so much self doubt, and I knew that he was right, that I could never manage without him. (12months later and look at me!!)
So I kept on giving him one more chance, and then one more and one more. Until one day there were no more chances left to give. I told him that if he went to anger management therapy I would stay with him while he worked on himself. He refused and said that I was the one who needed therapy. I told him that if he apologizes and admits that he has been abusive then perhaps we can start over. But no, of course he would never admit to any wrong doing.
During all the months we have been separated not once did he say he was sorry and that he would do anything to get me back. I am sure if he would have come with some jewelery or some gifts and maybe money, and if he would have told me that from now on he was going to treat me like a human being- I would without a doubt have gone straight back to him. I did not need much convincing, I was scared of being alone with so many responsibilities.
However instead of wooing me back, the very first thing he did was to cancel my credit card. Then he used up all the food stamps allotted for that month so that I had no money to feed my children. As the days went by he gave less and less money to the kids and of course no money to me, I had no job and no way to buy food or clothing.
In the end he left me with one credit card that only had my name, so that I was responsible for the payments. But how was i supposed to pay the bill with no money. I panicked, and didnt know what to do. One day I got a call from his sister in Israel. She told me that she knew I needed money to feed and clothe the children, (it was at the start of the new school year) so I should use the one remaining credit card and as long as i don't buy anything excessive she will personally guarantee that her brother will pay. My sister in law has always been honest and straight forward and i had no reason to doubt her.
We soon began to run out of supplies in the house. We had no paper goods and even no toilet paper! Again I panicked because I was alone and had no one to reach out to. I began to use the credit card, very sparingly at first, but then i gave up and realized that I had to keep on living and that the children needed normal healthy food and the clothes and stuff that they were used to.
I had not worked out of the house for close to 20 years, I was trying to heal from an abusive marriage, and I could not even think about getting a job. We went to court and Judge Morgenstern ordered my husband to pay the credit card bill and to continue to pay the house bills. He did pay the basic bills in the house but he stopped paying our cell phone bills and our internet service. And he refused to pay even the minimum on the credit card.
I existed in a state of anxiety, constantly worried when the next utility was going to be shut down, At the same time I was receiving phone calls from his family putting pressure on me to take him back. The whole thing was quite ludicrous. He was trying to starve me (literally) out of the house and "they" the big frum tzaddikim did nothing to help me, offered me no money, and stood silently by while I struggled to feed and clothe their very own nieces and nephews.
There was one brother who believed my story and tried to help. He gave me $200 and told me he would try his best to convince his brother to give me some money and do the right thing. The next thing I knew this brother stopped talking to me. He didnt respond to my texts or my phone calls. It was as though he had fallen off the face of the earth. I found out much later that he was warned very strongly by his nasty rosh yeshivah brother that he had better stop talking to me and that he had no "permission" from the rest of the family to remain involved. And like the coward that he is, he cut off all ties with me. He did allow me to keep the $200.
This situation continued from June until around October when we had our first court hearing. The summer months were not so bad because my kids were in camp and they stayed mostly with my husband upstate. It was when they came back at the end of August that things got rough. It was three days before Succos. I had no money, and he had used all the food stamps again. And then he suddenly decided to take all the boys to Israel with him for Yom Tov. He did not tell me, or ask me, he bought the tickets, $2,000 a piece and told them to pack their bags. To cut a long story short, he left the girls and myself for succos with no money for food.
I approached his boss, the Rosh Yeshivah of the school that he works for. I would love to mention his name, but I will refrain from identifying people. I called the school and asked for an appointment to meet with him. He blew me off and said he was very busy, but I was desperate and I pushed him and told him it was urgent. This particular Rabbi is known for his honesty and kindness so I went to the meeting certain that he would help me.
I could not have been more wrong. He began by asking why on earth I was divorcing my choshuvah husband. I replied that he is very abusive to me and my children. He responded with surprise and anger saying that he was a phenomenal Rebbi and that he did not abuse the kids in school. I wasted my time explaining that one thing had nothing to do with the other.
In the end he would not help me at all. He told me that the job belonged to my husband and that he could not give me any money based on his salary. Something for you to know is that this particular school has a very wealthy parent-body. I am sure that he could have either given me or lent me a few hundred dollars to buy food. Needless to say I left the meeting in tears and feeling more hopeless than ever.
Only afterwards did I realize that once again a "Rabbi" had refused to help me.