Nearly 10 years ago while I was living in Baltimore there was a day I wasn't feeling well and ended up passing out in a parking lot. Just my luck I ended up falling face first on to the cement parking lot. Needless to day I ended looking like someone I was someone's punching bag.
A few days after my fall I finally was feeling much better. I had to run some errands in preparations of the coming Shabbat (Jewish sabbath). At the time I was living within the Torah observant world. I kept kosher and Shabbat. I dressed modestly (wearing a long skirt which covered my knees and a blouse which covered my elbows and neckline). I was quiet embarrassed about going out in public looking the way I did, yet I needed to get things done. I did my best to muster up all the courage I could so I could step outside my front door.
My first stop was to go to Seven Mile, which is the local kosher grocery store. As I walked from my car to the store, through the parking lot -- I noticed people staring at me. To be honest, I think I would have looked too considering how black and blue my eyes were and how swollen my face was.
As I shopped I was also extremely aware of the looks many women gave me who were also in the store. They all would turn away as soon as they noticed I saw them looking at me. I know they turned away in hopes of not embarrassing me.
While continued shopping I over heard two women talking. One of the women said to her friend "I wonder who beat her up?" I wish I would have said something, yet I didn't. I guess I didn't want to embarrass them.
I finally got out of Seven Mile and became apprehensive of going on to my next errand (which was to go to a non-kosher grocery store to pick up some items the first store didn't have). I remember sitting in my car in the parking lot for a minute, trying to muster up the courage to go in.
Within minutes of entering "Shoppers", I was approached by the first woman who saw me. She wanted to make sure I was OK. She also gave me a card with the local domestic violence hot-line number on it.
I remember thanking her and told her I really, "Just fell".
She gave me a hug and said, "Just in case, you have the number". As I walked through that non-kosher grocery store I was approached by at least a dozen women and a few men, all saying the same thing. All wanting to make sure that I was safe and that I knew there was help out there for me if I needed it. It was sort of funny because not one of them wanted to believe the truth, they all just wanted to make sure I was safe and that I knew, "no one had a right to hit me like that".
When I got to my car I started to cry, not because so many people approached me wanting to be helpful. I was saddened by the fact not one frum (orthodox) woman came up to me to offer me support. The reality is I wasn't embarrassed that so many people wanted to help me -- actually it was a relief to know that strangers really cared and if I needed help they were more then willing to be of assistance. I was grief stricken because my own people turned their backs on me.
If the orthodox world is unable to offer support to strangers who look like they were battered, how do we really expect them to help children who are currently being abused or help adult survivors?