In the Trenches Against Abuse

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7 Responses

  1. Simcha Younger says:

    This article, as most discussion on this subject – leaves me somehow confused. The behaviors described are not normal expected behavior, and we are apparently dealing with a case of severe neurosis. If that is correct then abuse is merely the technical presentation, not the root cause, and Aleinu should perhaps rename themselves as a Mental Health organization, not a family resource center(even though they primarily deal with families). It seems that the focus on the presentation is meant to tell a different story – not one of neurosis, but a message of social conditions, even though the stories presented seem to be mental health issues. Am I wrong about the diagnosis?

  2. dovid says:

    This post, as well as the few articles written on this subject are inadvertently misleading in that all the examples illustrate males as victimizer with wives and children as victims. Cases where the wife is the victimizer and the husband and children are victims are not well documented for at least two reasons: (1) There is no statistical information available on marital and child abuse on the Charedi community, and (2a) it is less likely for a man to complain that he cannot rule his wife and (2b) it’s less likely for a man to seek help in his marital life because society regards it as unmanly. I am personally acquaited with a case were the wife is the victimizer. I don’t believe it’s the only case.

  3. Steve Ehrlich says:

    Concerning Simcha’s comment above — It seems to me that all criminals who abuse people
    have some kind of mental health issue. It is not really normal to feel a need to control and abuse others. But the focus of organizations like Aleinu (in Chicago we have Shalva)
    is to give their victims a way out… a place safe place to go that can begin to protect them.

  4. Binyamin says:

    Steve – I took a quick look at shalva’s website, and they disagree with your diagnosis. third item. Simcha’s question above is a problem for Shalva’s presentation.

    Unfortunately many organizations which ‘fight abuse’ are themselves guilty of control, power play, and abuse, by forcefully involving themselves in marriages with no justification. The stories presented here do need intervention (after verifying they are true and complete), but they are then used as an excuse for allowing the organization to force itself into any marriage where the woman starts feeling vindicative. Shalva, like all such organizations, has a list of what they consider abuse, . Aleinu has a list on its site . While much of the list is valid, they always include a number of minor/undefined issues which mean that by their definition there is not a single family which does not have abuse! When abuse starts to include criticism/interaction patterns/quarreling then this is no longer an abuse issue within the family, but a power issue by the ‘family services’ and by the one who involves them. There is obviously no halachic right to meddle in many of these situations (and some ‘abuse’ is even halachically correct behavior, eg for the man to make most financial decisions.)

    It would be proper for Rabbis to define abuse for the family services center, and not the other way around. Rabbis who are involved in dealing with abuse also must be sure that the organization is only dealing with true abuse, such as the stories presented above for fund-raising and legitimacy, and that they are not also trying to force femimist ideas of marriage patterns on the community.

  5. Steve Ehrlich says:


    I am troubled by your notion that there is some kind of Halachic obligation for a couple’s finances to always be in the hands of the husband. This kind of thinking IMHO assumes that a woman isnt really a full thinking adult. Normal, healthy couples work out who pays the bills and makes investments, etc. depending on who is better at juggling these kinds of things. The attitude you describe is itself a problem, and sad to say, I think many in the community really do think this way. Which is why I’m going to try IYH to increase my own Shalva contributions.

  6. Binyamin says:

    Steve –
    Do you think I misunderstood the Halacha, or do you think the Halacha supports abuse?

    I do not think there is any requirement for the man to make all decisions, and it is perhaps ideal for the two to make decisions together, but Halachically it is his perogative, and definitely not abuse. I do not see how you can accept the Halacha and also consider this abusive behavior.

    On the practical question of deciding finances, there is obviously the problem of two people with equal voting power and no procedure cannot really be considered a decision-making body. What do you think the appropiate behavior is for someone who is married to a somewhat intransient woman, whose idea of deciding together is that he agrees to what she wants. He then either pretends that its a mutual decision, but in practice she is abusive, or he makes the decision, and then he gets nailed for abuse. What should he do given this not uncommon challenge which prevents then from truly making decisions together?

  7. Steve Ehrlich says:


    I am not a professional in either the area of Halachah or relationships. All I can tell you is my opinion. Which is that it seems to me that this sort of thing — a winner and a loser — ought to be fairly rare in healthy relationships. This is when compromise should come into play. But if this kind of conflict is happening a lot, then that tells me there is something more fundamental wrong here. That couple is in serious needs of a good marriage counselor. Whoever is living in a conflict situation like this and is really unhappy ought not to be worrying about “perogatives”. They need to work the relationship with someone who knows what they are doing. Just my two cents.

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