Save a Domestic Violence Abuse Survivor and her three kids

$2,030 of $10,000 raised

raised by 30 people in 4 months

Domestic violence, reclaiming myself.

Posted by Rochel Leah on Monday, October 26, 2015

Domestic Violence Survivor Fund helps women who are working to get their lives and families back after years of abuse. We vet each case and ensure that their needs are genuine and that our assistance can make a difference.

This is an example of one of the women that we are helping.

This heartbreaking story comes from Jerusalem, and has been vetted by our people in Israel. This woman is a true survivor and with some help, her life can be turned around, and the violence and terror of the past can start to heal. This is our goal. 

Rochel is a young mother with four children living in Israel.  She is a survivor of severe domestic abuse at the hands of her now ex-husband, who is also a convicted child molester. In his most recent act of revenge, he caused her to become homeless. 

After years of abuse, Rochel found the courage to leave her husband (she is from a very religious family, so this was not so simple). She got help from and became a spokesperson for Bat Melech, started working and caring for her kids.  And then her ex got involved and caused her and her four children to become homeless (the legal hold he has on her movements is discussed below) and to lose a three-month deposit on a new apartment they had rented in an attempt to distance themselves from him.  They are homeless because they don’t have money for another three months of a deposit, and because the ex interferes in her ability to work.

This is Rochel’s story:

Eleven years ago Rochel made aliyah to Israel with her family, and shortly after, at just 19 years old, was married off to a man she hardly knew.  Things turned badly very quickly.  He cut her off from her family, kept her from friends and forced her into isolation. Physical and emotional abuse followed.

She was soon pregnant with her first child. Then a second. And while pregnant with a third, her mother was able to pass a message through a friend that she was sick. 

Rochel tried to escape the abuse but with four children, she couldn’t find the strength nor did she have the resources.  Only after her mother passed did she find the courage to leave. She was now 25 years old.

At the shiva she finally told her siblings of the nightmare that she underwent on a daily basis. Fearing for their sister's safety and that of her children, her siblings contacted a religious center for battered women called Bat Melech. The shelter helped Rochel to disappear with her children into their safe haven. Once there, the staff connected her with the legal, emotional, physical and financial support help she so desperately needed. It was there that Rochel began court proceedings. 

After seven months in the shelter, while still undergoing one grueling court case after another, Rochel and her children left the shelter and rented their own small apartment. Having no financial support from family, 4 children under the age of 6 and ongoing court battles, just putting food on the table was a daily struggle. 

After two years at court, her husband was convicted of physical abuse of his wife and children, and severe sexual abuse and molestation of a minor within the immediate family. Having found him guilty of all the above the judges finally ordered the husband to grant his wife a GET. He agreed to do so on condition that his wife sign an agreement that he and his lawyer had written up. 

When Rochel asked her free legal aide lawyer to look over the now completed agreement, and to advise her on whether or not she should sign on it, the lawyer encouraged her to sign. Having very limited Hebrew, and trusting the legal advice she was given, Rochel complied. She was now legally and halachically divorced in accordance with the laws of Israel. 

Only as time went by, did Rochel begin to realize that there was something very wrong with what she had signed. The agreement required her to obtain her ex’s approval for nearly everything, whether it be switching a school for her child to suit the child's needs, moving neighborhoods, going to visit family, or even something as simple as making a doctor's appointment. She was even forced to retain religious levels that weren't her own.

To make things even worse, her ex took an apartment down the street from them and was constantly spying, many times through friends of his, and doing everything possible to interfere with her new job, community, friends and government aid. 

The family's safety was so threatened by the father that Rochel had to involve the police numerous times and obtain restraining orders. He refused to pay child support.  Life became so intolerable that Rochel decided to move 25 minutes away from where she was currently living to escape her ex's grip. 

After giving up her job, her apartment and then signing a lease, her ex interfered again. Rochel received a court order forbidding her to change her place of residence. While her divorce document allowed her to live anywhere in Jerusalem, the ex-husband persuaded a stand-in Beit Din to modify the agreement restricting her to only living within the Beit Shemesh area. Rochel then received a phone call from the police warning her that if she were to move she would be arrested and her children given into temporary custody of the father. 

Immediately she ran to the court that day, submitting an appeal for an emergency hearing so that she could state her reasons for leaving her neighborhood. The court was on a two week recess and there was no one to talk to. 

Rochel had exactly two days to find a place for all her belongings, try to get out of the new contract, leave her old apartment and find a temporary place to stay with her children. 

Rochel was forced out of her home. The new tenant graciously allowed Rochel to leave belongings behind, but Rochel and her kids were now homeless.  A friend opened her two bedroom apartment to Rochel and her four kids, which, while generous, isn’t sustainable, as they are living there too with their new baby.

Rochel has been advised that she needs a highly skilled attorney in order to gain back all the rights that she should have been given from the start: the free or discounted legal aid attorneys don’t have the skills or time to handle such a complex case.  The process could take a year and cost her at least 40,000 shekels, 10,000 of which she will need to find and pay upfront.  Her ability to begin that process is on hold, as her ex’s interference has made it impossible for Rochel to work, and her first priority is to find an apartment.

Rochel’s immediate concern is to find a home for her children, be able to provide for their daily needs, and to get them the care and consistency they desperately need.  School starts in a few weeks.  Without a permanent address, Rochel cannot enroll her kids in a school.  

Our Goals:

1. Get Rochel the funds necessary to get into an apartment. (A three month deposit for a very old and small two bedroom apartment is nearly 5,000 NIS per month.)

a. Enroll kids in school  

2. Rochel has spoken to a lawyer who assures her that she has the legal right to move to an address in Jerusalem.  She needs to have funds to have a lawyer address any attempts her ex makes to interfere with her new residence. 

3. We believe that Rochel will need 40,000 NIS to go back to court and fully resolve her issues and gain protection from the court.

Our domestic abuse survivor's fund is looking to raise $15,000 to help this woman get a new start on her new life. Rochel is not a taker - she is a giver and doer. Even through all this, she has managed to offer emotional support to women at the Bat Melech shelter.

Thank you for your time and consideration. 

Rabbi Yonah Bookstein

;
$2,030 of $10,000 raised

raised by 30 people in 4 months

Created by

Pico Shul, Rabbi Yonah Bookstein
September 2017

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