After years of abuse, Esti* fled to a domestic violence shelter with her children and attempted, upon the advice of social workers, to file a restraining order against her abusive ultra-Orthodox husband. This prompted her husband and community leaders to launch a campaign of intimidation and harassment against her. She has gone deep into debt to protect herself and her children, but her funds have been exhausted.
To have a fighting chance at a fair trial, Esti needs to have competent lawyers who can represent her and her children.
She needs your help.
How the funds will be used:
The $25,000 we are raising will be used to cover this mother’s attorney fees in order to help her achieve a fair trial as well as Esti’s advocacy campaign costs.
In truth, the cause will cost far more than the amount we are raising for: likely over $100,000. If we are able to meet our goal, we will extend it. But every dollar spent here makes a massive difference.
Right to Parent is fiscally sponsored by FJC, a 501c3 public charity. As such, all donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
*The name Esti is a pseudonym to protect the identity of the actual victim.
Want to know Esti’s full story? Read the story below. TW: Rape, child abuse, domestic abuse.
Details of Abuse
Forced into marriage at a young age, Esti’shusband began abusing her early on. Telling her that according to the Torah, her body belonged to him, he repeatedly forced her to engage in sexual acts she told him she didn’t want to engage in, including multiple rape incidents during a high risk pregnancy.
Worse, the abuse extended to her children. Her children have since been diagnosed with PTSD, and the eldest child still experiences night terrors and flashbacks.
After all this, Esti finally escaped from her husband to a domestic abuse shelter, and her husband was arrested for domestic abuse. Esti initiated the process of filing for a restraining order against her husband, but before she could complete the process, leaders in her community, her family, and her husband’s attorney quickly intervened.
Her father pressured her not to get a restraining order and family and community members implored her to return to her marriage and not sully her family’s good name in their community where divorce is highly stigmatized Her husband’s attorney threatened her, saying that if she got the restraining order, he would “Fry her like a fish on the stand.” The rabbi said that he would make sure that she ends up in a mental institution and her kids would be taken away from her forever if she didn’t go back to court and retract her accusations.
Finally, Esti told the judge that she didn’t want to file a restraining order because she was so scared of the threats made against her. She felt unsafe without the restraining order, but, in light of the intimidation she had been subjected to, she felt even less safe with the prospects of those threats being borne out were she to go through with the restraining order.
Despite all this, her husband was still convicted of multiple counts of child abuse in the second degree and was put on probation..
This only temporarily put a halt to the abuse by her husband and the community leaders. The moment his probation ended, he dragged her back to court.
The Current Legal Battle
Without the restraining order, she has less protections, and the tide is starting to turn. Her ex’s lawyers put in a motion for a “reunification bootcamp” which is sold as an opportunity to address parental estrangement, but which would allow the abusive father uninterrupted 90 days and nights of access to the children he abused while they are completely cut off from their mother. This is a new tactic used in some Hasidic divorces, and has sadly worked in the past.
Please stand up for Esti’s rights. Please help protect her and her children.
Please give what you can and share. Help spread the word. Send a message: abuse will not go unheard. Women, no matter their background, deserve support. And children must not be put in the hands of those who would harm them under any circumstance.