Letter: Abuse in the Family – Like a Stab in the Heart

In all the talk about abuse in recent months, this genre is still not being spoken about. And if I’m feeling more alone than ever I cannot imagine that others are not.

In a way abuse out of the immediate family is easier – it’s a wound that can be stitched up and heal to some extent, though there will always be that tremendous scar that will never go away.

Abuse within the family however, is like being stabbed in the heart with a knife. And instead of the knife being removed and the wound being allowed to close and heal, it’s left there. And every so often – family simcha, Y”T, really a constant presence – that knife is twisted good and hard, and the wound just gushes blood again.

Can you please give me a voice, the voice that I will never have, because I can’t?! And hopefully through my voice, others in the same boat as me, will find some measure of comfort, healing, and validation.

Thank you for considering

Dear __________,

A tornado occurs when hot winds and cold winds collide and create chaos. Imagine living with an internal tornado – ALL – THE – TIME.

*I love you – but I hate you. I’m so uncomfortable for what you did to me I can’t even look you in the eye.

*I want to protect your dignity – but it hurts me so much that I appear a moron to our siblings for my unexplained coldness towards you.

*I’m furious at you – but how can I not forgive you and be understanding? After all, you too were only a kid.

*I want compassion and empathy from my family – but how can I hurt our parents and tear them into two, by making them relive the harsh truth?

*I want the world, or at least my friends who went through similar yet different experiences, to understand the full extent of my pain – but I can never hurt you by revealing your identity. Even though you so carelessly betrayed me.

*I want our parents to experience Yom Tov with full nachas, and you and your family to enjoy spending time with family – but your presence exhausts me because I work so hard to try and make everything look “normal”, for your wife’s sake, your kids’ sake, our parents and siblings sake, and for your sake. Because as much as you violated me in the worst sense possible I can never divorce my love for you. Even though I wish I could, it would be a whole lot less painful.

*I came to your wedding and tried my best – but I felt like everyone could see through my plastered on smile. That they could plainly see the hurt and confusion writhing internally. I felt that my very existence was a cruel reminder to you of unpleasant past misdeeds, on what should have been the happiest day of your life. That my existence on this planet is a cruel reminder. I didn’t bother trying to join any of your following simchas – it would be too hard to try to maintain my thin veneer of pretend calm.

*Our family is fragmented because of my inability to just get over things – but your constant presence in my life is an unending maelstrom.

*I want to curse you, to be angry, to take you to trial – but you’re my brother and I could never bring myself to hurt you.

*I never want to see you again in my life – but you’re my brother and I care about you…

*I know you apologized sincerely many times over – but somehow that just makes it worse. Because now I don’t even have the right to be angry.

* How I wish I could forgive, and desperately wish I could forget – but how can I when the effects of what you did still shadows me, every, single, day?

And so, as I was then, I remain now: The Protector. Protecting your dignity, protecting your feelings. Protecting our parents, protecting our siblings and extended family, protecting your wife and kids. And all the while I try to be my own protector. But as was then so is now – your protection will always take precedence.

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  1. I think she should have told and still can tell her parents or at least a rabbi or mentor she trusts because this kind of abusive behavior isn’t a one time thing. This guy needs help. Who says his own children aren’t suffering as a result. Perhaps he was abused….

  2. i used to think that Shabbos, Yom Tov, etc, are for FFB people who had a smooth run in life, but recently i concentrated on the words in the Zmiros and i realized that Shabbos in the eyes of the tzadikim who wrote those zmiros is a time for healing, and not exclusively in the physical sense. If you read some history you may figure out that some of the greatest tzadikim dealt with these issues. So beyond the practical advice that a Rav can offer, try “living” the zmiros, not just singing but actually “living” inside those words and touching the spirit that was embedded in them, which has the capacity to bring the power of Shabbos and Yom Tov all the way over to you and to heal.

  3. Thank you TLS for printing this letter. Thank you for giving a voice and platform to this very special brave lady.

    To the very beautiful person who submitted this letter. Your strength and character are outstanding. I read your letter and cried, then reread it again and cried more. I have no words or suggestions. I don’t know how you do it. I can’t imagine or even think of a way to see things from your eyes as you see them. All I am doing now is thinking of how brave, and amazing you have been and continue to be. I just can’t stop crying with you and wish I had a way to help make it better for you.

    I will keep you in my heart and teffilos everyday and from this day forward I consider you a friend who I care about. I can only hope that each morning as you awake to a new day, Hashem gives you the tools and the strength you need to smile, be happy, feel calm and do good all while carrying your pain.

    I am so proud to have a new friend in you and while we don’t know each other, I still care so much for you.

  4. Thank you so much for writing this and putting it out there.
    You gave words to what so many of us go through silently. With all the awareness that’s come as a result of the recent events, those who suffered at the hands of family members were somehow overshadowed.
    No words, just thank you.

  5. I think our community schools should implement the Magenu safety program. It has a few lessons which teach about competing feelings, trusted adults, the difference between a secret and a surprise. It is Tzanua and completely reviewed to be appropriate and educational for our children.

  6. I am so sorry for your pain! May Hashem give you a nechama. As a parent, this is my biggest fear. How can one make sure abuse doesn’t take place unDer their nose???

  7. IGETIT – thank you. It makes the pain worth it when I know I’ve touched someone else’s life and hopefully provided some measure of balm. A request to everyone: can you please help me spread this message? There are so many of us suffering in silence. We need all the validation we can get. Which is why I so badly wanted to get my letter published. If you know anyone who can be helped (though most of us are so masked up), please forward!!! And may you be gebentched.
    Admasai – B”H I’m living a truly beautiful life – though recent events definitely threw my balance for a bit. There is hope, there is recovery… even in this deep pain. I’m happy to email if there is toeles. You can get my email from TLS.
    Bd – there is no sure answer. But we need to up the education, and most of all daven. But I truly think if I would’ve been given the basic language, I would have been able to get help immediately and stop the saga in it’s tracks. And I think that perhaps the whole sad story could have been prevented with proper education for both of us. Believe me it’s a tragedy – for my brother as well.

  8. I’m a male, and as such have the hated but pervasive stereotypical tendency to always try to think of a solution or suggestion whenever I hear of a problem, helpful or not. Over here, though, I don’t even have any thoughts that can be helpful. I just want to validate your pain and struggle. You seem like an incredible person. May you have only serenity, peace, and healing from Hashem, the true source of all healing. May you only experience nachas and happiness from your own family. I may not have any way to help you, but I care about you, as a fellow sibling in Klal Yisrael. May you know of no more suffering. Thank you for sharing your poignant message and thoughts with us.

  9. How courageous of you to write this letter. And how profound your maturity and midos tovos that you sacrifice so much in an effort not to hurt your brother or the extended family.

    The pain you have been living with constantly is unimaginable for anyone without such sad experience. The emotional tug of war you describe must be wreaking havoc on your psyche. There are no magic fixes. No platitudes that will make your pain go away. How awful it must be for you to repeatedly relive the trauma at each family gathering. Your challenge is enormous.

    You are so brave to admit your ongoing love and loyalty to a brother who has hurt you so badly. That must be so hard for you. It speaks volumes about your inner kindness and sensitivity.

    You are so strong to continue to protect not only your brother but also his wife and kids who are innocent bystanders. And protecting your parents from further torture is the highest form of kibud horim. I feel sorry for you that you have been carrying this heavy burden of “protection” all on your own and wish I could connect in some small way????

    May G-d give you continued strength to face each new day with clarity and wisdom, and grant you the healing and genuine joy you so rightly deserve.

    Thank you for sharing your story
    I feel for you
    I cry with you
    I pray that you find inner peace

  10. Dear Writer,

    Thank you for sharing your pain and giving voice to many others suffering in silence.

    I haven’t been molested, but have gone through a rough childhood nonetheless due to emotional and verbal abuse.

    Compensating for your pain is one thing, and your letter clearly articulates your frustration in being unable to compensate properly due to the dynamics of what happened to you.

    Healing however is an entirely different game that begins from the inside, and goes a lot deeper.

    I can share some info if you’d like: ([email protected])

    FYI, I have nothing for sale.

    Wishing you much comfort and peace on your journey.

  11. Dear letter writer, you’re a walking powerhouse! Besides for the tremendous validation and strength that your message gives to us who went through it, and to those who can relate in many more ways, your letter brings forth one of the biggest kiddush Hashem. Although we can never know why we go through certain things in life and why it happened to us, I’m sure there’s a well thought out blue print up in shamayim explaining every single bit of those details, however, YOU my dear, brought your nisayon up to a higher level like no other! You amaze me, you inspire me, and I can say is that I wish you will receive true inner healing from your silent pain, and true happiness should always emerge from very deep within! You gave me so much strength, I shared it will many people who went through it, and to those who went through all sorts of different kind of abuse and they were awed!! Some even told me that they felt someone wrote they’re feelings down. So thank you for this letter, you write so beautifully and expressed it down to the last T, in the most unique way! Thank you brave TLS for posting this letter and giving her/him a voice, and through this a hopefully hopefully awareness will come through. Maybe one day, one school will quietly educate their students on how to be safe and protected in the right way. Maybe one day, one day! Thank you so very much! May you be blessed!! Thank You Hashem for giving you and all of us the strength to keep fighting for inner peace!!

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