Rachel Bluth The Jewish Press.com
She sits on the sofa, so ill at ease
her moist eyes looking down at the floor,
White knuckles, worn hands, twist a tissue to bits,
“Please help me, I can’t take anymore!”
Her story unfolds, mixed with tears of great pain
Her words come out haltingly hushed,
Often she stops in mid-sentence for breath;
She needs time and must not be rushed.
The wall clock ticks time going by
As I wait for her to continue to speak,
So much grief etched into her pitiful face,
She begins, in a voice soft and meek…
“My name is Batsheva and I’m 40 years old,
I have five young children at home,
My concern is now more for their safety,
I no longer care for my own.
I married when I was 28,
To a man said to be ‘one of a kind.’
I was alone with no family to look out for me
And given very little time to make up my mind.
So I allowed myself to be convinced he
Was my zivug, my partner for life,
Little did I know that his ideas were different;
He wanted a punching bag for a wife!
He was nice enough during our engagement
Acting kindly when we were alone,
But as soon as the wedding was over
It was a demon who brought me home.
The cruelty I suffered the first few weeks
Became a way of life,
And the scars he inflicted by word and by fist
Cut much deeper than that of a knife.
He called me every foul name known to man
Never once did he call me by name,
He degraded me, beat me and cut me down,
Taking pleasure in seeing my shame.
When his anger was spent, when he had time to think,
He would apologize and promise ‘no more!’
That he loved me and would never do it again,
And begged me not to go through the door.
And each time I bought his promises and lies,
I wanted to believe him, and then…
Something would upset him, the anger returned
And it would start all over again!
I had thought of leaving him thousands of times
Where would I go? Who’d take me in?
With five little children to care for
And with no family or friends or kin.
So I stayed and I suffered, alone and afraid
As long as it was just me he attacked
And for years it went on in this endless way
Until last week it was my daughter he smacked!
He’s a master at knowing how to conceal his abuse
Never leaving a mark or a track,
My poor child was in shock as she ran from his reach
With the imprint of his hand on her back!
I awoke, as if from a drug-induced dream
My kids were in danger for sure,
I had lost three pregnancies to beatings
I would not lose any more!
I sit before you broken and alone
Not knowing whom to trust,
I know one thing for certain
That leaving him is a must.
I am depleted in body, spirit and mind
My heart aches from waiting so long,
I should have found the courage to leave long ago,
For this I know I was wrong.
Please help me and tell me what I must do
Where to go, whom to see, what to say,
I need to save my children you see,
I must make sure they are safe far away.
They are all that I have, that I love in this life,
I don’t care for myself, only them,
And I know that coming here today
Is truly the Will of Hashem.”
It was then that she broke down and sobbed in her hands
Her body racked with grief,
But somehow, the unburdening of her tale
Had also brought her relief.
Some moments passed as her weeping subsided,
I gently began my address
I offered her resources, organizations and places
That would help her resolve her distress.
Calls were made, and a secret dwelling arranged,
At this time a Get and divorce are pending,
Their future looks brighter with each passing day
A new life begins as an old one is ending.
If you see yourself mirrored in this woman’s strife
Please know you are never alone,
Just reach out and grasp all the helping hands
That are waiting for a call on the phone.
No one deserves to be beaten or hurt
No one should suffer abuse,
It is precisely for reasons such as these
Hashem gave Hilchos Gitten to the Jews.
Rachel Bluth is a writer and lecturer with an active practice
in the Five Towns.