Forgive Me Forgive Me

Read these.

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Read these and realize that this is just a drop in the bucket of what women send me, a complete stranger whom they’ve never met.

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Read these and realize that these are women who’ve already left, who tried to make it work until it didn’t any longer, and had the courage to move from victim to survivor.

Read these and realize that there are countless other women who’ve read and who’ve understood and who haven’t reached out, not to anyone.

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Read these and realize that there are so many other women who have not read and who never will read, and don’t know that what they are in is something called an abusive relationship.

Read these and realize that we — as a community — we screwed up, big time.

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Forgive me for this, but I think we’ve failed our women. We have asifas and meetings and posters and awareness about Tznius and The Internet and Don’t Talk In Middle of Davening and Very Important things like that, and we have NOTHING that warns about the dangers of husbands who torture their wives and children.

And forgive me for this, but I think that we need to get down on our hands and knees and say, as a community, חטאתי. I sinned. Forgive me. Forgive us. We have failed you.

Forgive us, for not believing you.

Forgive us, for defending him.

Forgive us, for not listening.

Forgive us, for thinking that women like you do not exist.

No doubt we have made great strides in many areas, with awareness growing around so many issues that we never would have dared to discuss just a short while ago. I think it’s time that domestic violence — probably the most frightening and misunderstood issue that we never want to think about until it affects someone close to us — receives the same awareness.

My instinct is to say, forgive me, for writing so much about DV.

Forgive me, forgive me, for occasionally appearing in your newsfeed with another dark article.

Forgive me, for speaking.

Forgive me, for my anger.

Forgive me, for wanting so badly to be heard.

Instead, I will say this:

Forgive me, for not speaking loudly enough.

Forgive me, for not appearing in your newsfeed with more dark articles a lot more often.

Forgive me, forgive me.

To the women who go back, and the women who never left. To the women who see this, to the women who won’t:

Forgive me for not being able to help you. Forgive our community for our ignorance. Forgive the people who do more harm than good. Forgive us all for being so helpless.

What good is being angry, if no one else is. What good is screaming, if there’s no one around to hear you.

But I am angry. I am angry because we continue to defend abusers. I am angry because it feels like they are always always winning. I am angry because our girls are taught the importance of covering up, of being obedient, of being silent, but never about how to assert themselves, never about how much they deserve. I am angry because I was told by principals that the warning signs in dating is an “inappropriate” topic for 18-year-old high school seniors to hear. I am angry because this is part of the problem, and we aren’t doing anything to fix it.

We are רחמנים – but not to the בישנים. And we know how to be loud – but not about this. Tell me how we were able to get 60,000 people together to scream about the horrors of the internet, but not one asifah to condemn domestic abuse or warn of its dangers. Tell me how we can dictate to our women and girls as young as 3 exactly what they can and cannot wear, but not allow one talk in our high schools about what to watch out for. Tell me why one’s influence and stature overrides everything else.

Forgive me, but I just don’t understand. Where are the meetings? Where are the posters? Where is the outrage?

We need to beg forgiveness, the way she begs for his.

We need to get angry, the way he gets at her.

Certainly we can’t keep protecting the wrong people. And certainly we need to collectively speak up.

I know just how difficult it is to speak. It’s so much easier to pretend our problems will just go away on their own. This is what victims tell themselves day after day after day.

Just know that in keeping silent, the only voice she hears is his.

About the Author
Shaindy Urman is a freelance writer, and full-time mom and student living in Brooklyn, NY. When she's not discussing philosophical concepts with her 8-year-old daughter, she is probably writing about it.
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