I was abused and given no help, says man refused a get

EXCLUSIVE: Chained husband pleads with community to provide support for male as well as female victims   


Young sad mad sitting by the window in regret

A male domestic abuse victim who has been seeking a religious divorce for 18 months has pleaded for the community to acknowledge and support male agunim.

“Mordy” told the JC he had been the victim of a “long-term campaign to isolate me from my family and friends” and that he had been physically abused.

He claimed he had received no support from the beth din and found very little help from elsewhere in the community. 

He first came to realise that men could also be denied a religious divorce in 2019 and he fears his initial misconception about this is one shared by many in the community.

“I was halfway through packing my stuff and I genuinely had no idea where to go. There was no one in the community to turn to because the only provision in the community for people in my situation is for women and children,” he recalled. 

While he said that he did not wish to “detract” from the plight of female agunot, he stressed that men could be victims too. “It also happens to men. That’s the point. If a women tells the Beth Din that she will not accept a get from her husband, he is ‘refused’ permission to get one written.”

Mordy accused his alleged get refuser of psychological, emotional, financial and some physical abuse.

The relationship initially seemed mostly loving but became abusive over time, he said. 

“From the outset there was 99 per cent love, one per cent coercion. Gradually, the amount of love went down as the coercion went up until it far outweighed the love.”

Mordy said he first left his perpetrator “after an incident where I was physically abused. The problem is survivors can suffer from Stockholm syndrome. I did and therefore I found myself going back a couple of times, until I eventually got out with the help of the police.”

He left the relationship in 2019 and sought a religious divorce via his beth din several months later. But his request was repeatedly refused by both his perpetrator. The rabbinical court has since taken to “advocating for her”, he alleged. 

“I’ve been writing to the beth din consistently for the past 18 months and in that time they’ve been trying to make her case,” he said, adding he received no support from the religious court.

“I’ve told them that I am a survivor of abuse and they’ve not done anything about that. They’re not interested.”

He added that the court had not referred him to specialist agencies or answered any of his emails in the last month.

“My life is in limbo,” he said, adding that his mental health and wellbeing had been badly hit by his ordeal. 

“I’m probably functioning at about 25 per cent of my previous capacity,” he said, citing the stress levels and legal costs he has faced over the last 18 months.

Of his struggle to access support elsewhere in the community, and how he found services geared towards helping female victims, he said: “We have to look at what provision we are making in the community for male survivors because currently there are none.”  

In a statement to the JC, Mordy's beth din said it could not comment on any ongoing get procedure or discuss confidental matters without written permission from all parties involved, citing GDPR legislation.

But it added that it "treats every get case with utmost sensitivity and always strives to help all parties involved. We do not act as solicitors and neither do we advocate for either party, but are simply there to facilitate a get which will allow both sides to continue with their lives."

It also said any current domestic abuse allegations must be reported to the police.

Ramie Smith and Rifka Meyer of the campaign group GETToutUK warned that male agunim “go largely unseen”.

“Most people don’t think of men when imagining who is impacted by domestic abuse, but as we have seen, men are victims of domestic abuse in all forms including get refusal. 

“These men suffer in silence. Some are afraid to come forward out of a fear of not being believed, while others fear they may not be seen as masculine or strong.

“It is important that these men are seen and supported by communities. No one should suffer in silence,” they said.

A domestic abuse bill signed into law last month has made it easier to take a get refuser to a UK court. 

The law change, welcomed by Jewish charities, clarifies that abuse can still take place even if the couple are separated and live apart.

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