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A Sanctuary to Dwell In

Michal Eisikowitz

Life for frum women — and their children — in domestic violence shelters.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

light houseOn her first night in a greater-Jerusalem women’s shelter, Kayla lay quaking in her bed.

“I was awake all night,” she recalls. “I knew there was an alarm, a camera system, and a security guard, but I couldn’t help it. I kept getting up to make sure the windows and doors were locked. If it wasn’t my husband chasing me, I just knew it would be someone else’s crazy husband.”

After nine years of relentless physical and emotional abuse, Kayla — an American-born woman living inIsrael— took the gargantuan step of seeking shelter, and the transition was deathly frightening.

Eight months later, she emerged completely changed — a healthy, functioning mother who’d regained her eroded self-esteem.

“I came in thinking I was worth nothing, on the brink of going crazy,” she says. “I was emotionally unstable, petrified of becoming suicidal. 

“By the time I left, I had an incredible amount of self-esteem. I’d also discovered how my childhood had made me more vulnerable to abuse. But the biggest thing? I left with the rock-solid knowledge that I wasn’t guilty for what happened to me as a child, not for my husband’s abuse, and not for his abusing my children. I had nothing to do with his craziness — and now I was going to start fresh.”

How did this seemingly magical transformation occur? Domestic violence shelters transmit an intense package of physical and emotional healing that is systematic in professional approach yet highly empathic. The battered woman is enveloped in love and kindness, empowering her to reestablish a sense of identity and return to healthy living.


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