בס”ד

Personal Stories

Each women and child who flees to the Bat Melech shelter has a unique story. Below are a few stories illustrating their experiences:*

Meira , Leah , Merav , Rachel

Thank-you Letters

Bat Melech receives many thank you letters from the women and children we help. Listed below are some poignant examples of these letters:*

Rachel , Rivkah , Devorah , Chedvah
Leah – written by an 12 year old girl who stayed in the shelter with her mother

Beit Yeladim4


Meira’s Story

Meira began being beaten by her husband a few weeks after her wedding.

At first she didn’t really realize what was happening. It began as verbal abuse. He would call her stupid or ugly. He would shout at her if she did the slightest thing wrong.

The verbal abuse became physical abuse. When he hit her, Meira rationalized to herself that it would be better when they had children. However in reality, the abuse intensified when she became pregnant. “He would hit me with hard objects like a broom or a screwdriver.”

The final straw came when her husband locked her in the house. He threatened Meira that he would “get even once and for all.” Fearing for her life, she climbed out the window and hid outside in the bushes all night until a police car passed by. She ran to the car begging them for help, and through them was referred to Bat Melech.

Meira stayed in the shelter for months with her three young children – ages six, three and one. At the shelter it was safe for them to be children again, to play and to laugh without worrying about what might happen.

The Israel Center for Family Justice enabled Meira to fight for custody of her children and win her case.

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Leah’s Story

Leah, a 38-year-old, well kept and refined looking woman who made aliya from France, arrived at the Bat Melech shelter with her three young daughters after living in a violent relationship for nine years.

This was the second time Leah arrived at Bat Melech. Four years earlier, she sought our help after a violent rampage by her husband. However, at that time she was not emotionally prepared to leave, so she returned to her husband after ten days in the shelter.

The second time Leah stayed in the shelter was a completely different experience.

Throughout her marriage Leah suffered severe financial, verbal and physical abuse by her husband. Her husband’s incessant hitting and kicking resulted in a broken hand, cuts and bruises. She knew she was in great danger and began fearing for her and her daughters’ lives. However for years she remained in the marriage. After she learned that her husband was also sexually abusing one of their daughters, she finally decided that she had no choice but to come to Bat Melech.

Leah stayed at the shelter for 6 months, where both she and her daughters received intensive therapy. The Israel Center for Family Justice (link) provided free legal representation for Leah in the rabbinic and civil courts. The Legal Center was successful in obtaining alimony and a Get (divorce document) for Leah.

Leah plans on continuing her connection with Bat Melech which she says, “…was a home for me during the most difficult time in my life. Bat Melech gave me a chance to be freed from the violence, and helped me to live an independent life”.

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Merav’s Story

Merav had reservations about her husband from the beginning. However, her Rabbi kept telling her not to expect to love someone before marriage, so she married him.

One week after their wedding the abuse began. He started calling her all sorts of horrible names, and would lock her out of the house for hours on end.

The beatings began during Merav’s second pregnancy. As well as hitting her, he would throw any sharp object he could find at her.

When the baby was born, the doctors found a hole in his heart. Asserting that it was her fault the baby was born sick, her husband intensified the violence against Merav.

The beatings continued even after the baby was released from the hospital. Merav spent most of her days with her children in her arms. Her husband beat her every time a child cried – he would hit her while she was holding the children.

Merav kept her husband’s violence a secret from her family. When they found out they insisted that she go to Bat Melech.

At Bat Melech, Merav finally felt safe – that she could put her children down without fearing what might happen to them.

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Rachel’s Story

Rachel, a thirty-year-old woman with three children who is employed as a computer programmer, arrived at the shelter after eight years of marriage. Rachel was reluctant about coming to the Bat Melech shelter, and only agreed to after several phone calls from Sari, the director of the shelter. Sari received her number from the Bnei Brak Welfare Bureau who felt Rachel was in great danger.

Rachel arrived at the shelter a broken woman. She spent the entire day crying and asking to leave. Fearing for her life, the Bat Melech staff tried to convince her to stay. A friend of the husband’s called and begged us not to let her go, because if we did, her husband would murder her.

Rachel agreed to stay, but not to file a complaint with the police. She arrived at the shelter with visible marks on her body. Sari asked Rachel if she could photograph her bruises, so that if she decides to go to the police, she will have evidence to use against her husband.

After taking the photographs Sari wrote the following letter:

”I must tell you, this was one of the hardest moments of my career at the shelter. She pulled up her shirt and there were huge bruises in various colors. I felt like someone just gave me a blow at that moment. It physically hurt me.

Also, the situation itself was a difficult one – here is a woman who barely knows me, and she is forced to expose herself in front of me and I am photographing it – a horrible and humiliating feeling.

This is not the first time I have photographed evidence of violence, but this time it was especially difficult. I think it was because of the juxtaposition of her gentle and modest appearance with her physical scars and victimized state. The only thing left is to pray to Hashem that we will be able to help her and her children.”

After three weeks in the shelter, Rachel began integrating with the other women. Although she remained firm in her resolve not to involve the police, Rachel slowly began to open up and share her painful story.

After two months in the shelter, Rachel decided she wanted to leave so that her children could be in their regular schools. The staff of the shelter respected her decision and understood her reasoning. Nevertheless, they still felt a pang in their hearts, because Rachel was still in the beginning stages of her rehabilitative process.

A few days before her planned departure date, Rachel approached Sari saying, “I would like to request something. I am really sorry, and am not sure how to say this I don’t know how to say this, but I would like to stay in the shelter for another period”.

Rachel explained that she felt that she and her children were in the middle of the therapeutic process. She was on the right track and she wanted to take full advantage of the services offered by the shelter. She wanted to continue growing and to become a stronger woman.

Rachel stayed in the shelter for another 4 months and made tremendous strides toward independence and in her increased self-confidence. A month before leaving the shelter Rachel enrolled in a bookkeeping course.

Currently, Rachel is living independently in an apartment in Bet Shemesh. Due to the hard work of the Israel Center for Family Justice, Rachel received her get (divorce document) two months after leaving the shelter.

She wrote a thank you letter (below) to the staff of Bat Melech for transforming her life.

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Rachel’s thank-you letter

To everyone at Bat Melech,

It is hard to describe everything I received in this wonderful place called “Bat Melech”. Nevertheless, I will try to describe the process I went through this past year – from the time I left my house where I suffered from violence, until today when I am actually beginning a new chapter of my life.

Several years before I came to Bat Melech I understood my marriage life was broken, and there was probably no way to improve it. I wanted to end my marriage and get divorced, but I knew it wouldn’t be easy since my husband would not cooperate and would come running after me. I also feared his threats. Two years before I came to the shelter, the Division for Domestic Violence suggested that I should go to a “shelter for battered women”. It sounded frightening, threatening and not for me, and I therefore declined the suggestion.

After one particularly violent act, I knew I was at my breaking point. I left the house with my three children, and we stayed by friends and family for about a week. I knew this was not a permanent solution, and I decided that my only option was to go to the shelter. Later, I discovered that having “no options” was the best thing that could happen to me. I came with my children to Bat Melech and received everything I needed – physically and emotionally.

Physically- everything was given in abundance; it felt like home and even better. Emotionally- the shelter’s staff was wonderful – they all have such big hearts, wide smiles, sympathetic ears and patience. I knew I was not alone. Through every difficulty or dilemma there was someone to turn to and consult with.

I met wonderful, talented and kind women who came to Bat Melech in similar circumstances as mine. It helped me open up and feel more at ease with myself and my surroundings. I developed friendships which will BH continue for the rest of my life.

At Bat Melech I received and am still receiving legal aid that saves me a lot of headaches and running around. I know there is someone taking care of my legal proceedings in the best way possible.

A month ago, I left Bat Melech a strong woman heading towards a new life. I received help from Bat Melech with moving to the new house that I rented. They also accompanied me to the house where I lived with my husband, so that that I would not need to deal with it alone. They bought me a new washing machine and helped me with everything they could..

Today, I am independent and BH get along on my own, but I know that I always have someone to turn to – people who were there with me, continue to accompany me, have an interest in me and will always be there in times of need.

For everything, I am deeply grateful and happy for being so privileged.

With love,
Rachel

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Rivkah’s thank-you letter

Dear Bat Melech Staff,

Bat Melech is an organization that cares, supports and gives unconditionally – an organization that thinks about each and every individual, and gives with its whole heart. All of the work done by the organization is done with a generous spirit and tremendous self sacrifice, while constantly thinking of how to help, improve and support us.

Thank you –
For taking me from darkness to light.
For turning something from a mere possibility to an actual thing.
For transforming my lack of faith in myself to self confidence.

My unwillingness to cope with anything has now become a drive to succeed in everything. I now understand that I can also run ahead, just like a child, with a lot of energy, will power and great confidence, and for this and much more I am forever thankful.

You lighted my new way, supported, listened, understood, felt and encouraged me. You were always happy and willing to assist, as if it’s the most natural thing.
You do amazing work that I greatly admire.

You are my home, family, friends, support and much more that cannot be conveyed by words. In my darkest hours, and there where many such hours, you were on my side – supporting, encouraging, listening and not letting me fall. You held me tight and did not let go. You have helped me grow and you are still with me.

I am thankful to you, and to the Hashem, who created the reason for my coming to Bat Melech, the wonderful organization.

I would end with saying thank you again.

With much love and endless appreciation,

Yours,
Rivkah

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Devorah’s thank-you letter

When I first came to the shelter, I felt like I was at the lowest point of my life, in all aspects, a feeling of: “What am I doing here?”

Today, looking back, I am happy and thank Hashem for bringing Bat Melech into my life.

This was the first time that someone has opened the “cage” and touched my soul. Through determination, professionalism and sensitivity, Bat Melech unlocked the sealed compartments of my heart and caused me to go through sharp and meaningful changes.

All the activities at the shelter – surprises, parties, birthdays, art projects, cooking and trips – gave me feelings of happiness and a zest for life that I cannot begin to describe.

With much gratitude and appreciation
Devorah

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Chedvah’s thank-you letter

To the wonderful staff at Bat Melech

Sometimes luck falls our way,
And in the twinkling of an eye we are exposed to light
And experience and identify giving
In its purest form.

Suddenly, a tireless hand touches our forehead
And pushes away the fear, the pain, the hesitation.
That hand is sometimes called, an angel…

And when an angel touches us,
We remain enveloped with a feeling of peace,
A message of hope
And our lives are suddenly filled with light

I wanted to thank you for being angels, who do not stop thinking about how to make it good for us.

With much love and appreciation,
Chedvah

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Leah’s thank-you letter
(Leah was 12 years old, staying in the with her mother, when she wrote this)
To everyone at Bat Melech-

First of all, I love you all very much. Even though I sometimes acted silly or withdrawn, I want to thank you for always being there for me. You made me happy when I was sad, and helped my mother calm down during the hard times.

You accepted me and my family with great happiness.

You took us on amazing and fun trips, but the biggest thing is that you helped us with was through your love and joy. For this, I have no words or presents to thank you.

You taught me something I never thought was possible – you taught me to start fresh and open a new page, how to build a new family with a lot of love and happiness, how to talk to people without being embarrassed or angry. You taught me not to hold everything inside and be mad, but instead to want to talk to people about the hardships of life. You taught me how to be happy and how to feel better from a bad mood,

Words cannot express how thankful I am!

Love,
Leah

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* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the people involved.