Three heroic women who had been subjected to physical, mental and financial violence in a horribly saturated relationship, decided to be exposed openly and share their difficult experiences.
Orly Freund, 54
Orly Freund, 54
"No one could have known I was crushed on the inside"
Orly Freund founded the "Together from the Dark to the Light" organization about eight years ago, which provides long-term group mental health care to men and women who have been sexually abused as children.
Today, the association has 11 treatment groups, from north to south, some for women and some mixed for men and women.
The first group opened in Be'er Sheva, where Freund was born, and was later added in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Carmiel, Karkur, the Golan Heights and Afula.
"There is a shortage of treatment in the country in general and there are long waiting lists for treatment, which is usually limited to about two years. There are no treatment groups like ours, few existing groups are short-term support groups," she explains.
Orly Freund // Photo: Dudu Greenspan,
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The initiative to establish the association came against the background of difficult events from Freund's past.
She studied accounting and worked as a lecturer, but for years hid a secret that eventually led her to the therapeutic world.
"No one could see I was crushed on the inside," she says.
From a very young age until she was 20, Freund was sexually assaulted by a relative.
Only after her eldest daughter was born did she reveal her past: "When I saw that the extended family was doing nothing, I filed a complaint with the police, and at the end of a 14-year legal process he went to jail and there ended his life."
She shares that as a result of the things she started psychiatric treatment, but after about two years she could no longer afford it.
"I felt I could not continue without mental help, and thanks to a group of donors who decided to fund my treatment - my life was saved," she says, "for the first time in my life I could see the horizon and plan for myself a future."
From her personal experience she founded the association that provides mental health care to victims of childhood sexual abuse, without fear that the procedure will be cut short due to financial inability to fund it.
"I want everyone who has been sexually abused as a child to know that life can be different - better and even happier," she adds.
Hadar Reuven, 30 years old
Hadar Reuven, 30 years old
"He grabbed me by the hair and hit me until I lost consciousness
." Reuven, a mother of two and a bachelor's student, grew up in Kiryat Shmona and married at the age of 19. Already at an early stage of the establishment of the joint home, violence began from her ex-husband. "I experienced all kinds of violence - verbal, mental and physical," she shares.
According to her, on the outside everything seemed fine, but in the house itself the violence prevailed. Four years ago there was an extreme case that caused her to run away with her two children (now 6 and 8 years old). "We were at a friends' event in a hall full of people," she recalls, "my divorcee drank and smoked, and at one point grabbed me by the hair and dragged me by force in front of everyone outside the hall.
He kept hitting me outside the hall and also in the car.
I screamed and lost consciousness.
Luckily, a passerby who saw the case and did not know us, called the police and gave them the vehicle details.
Shortly after we got home the cops knocked on the door.
They handcuffed him in front of the children and evacuated me to the hospital. "
After this incident Reuben chose life.
"I decided to be born again and create a new life for myself," she says. That there is a place to turn. "
She has been working at Elbit for 11 years, and about two years ago she began studying for a bachelor's degree in human services at Tel Hai College.
In doing so, she is engaged in event production.
"Today I believe in myself, self-confidence and self-esteem," says Reuven. "Therefore, it is important that this is discussed, and that other women are not afraid. It is also important that the environment intervenes. It is possible to call the police or the 118 hotline of the Ministry of Welfare and prevent the violence."
Hadar Reuven // Photo: Eyal-Margolin Ginny,
Dalia Assis, 58
Dalia Assis, 58
"After my eldest son was born I snatched the first fist"
Dalia Assis remembers exactly that morning in 1990, when she was only 27, so she packed her things and together with her children ran away from the violent house where she lived.
When she was 15 and a half she met who would later be her husband seven years her senior. At first he served as a support for her, but slowly he began to take control of her life. "In the army, when I was offered to be an officer, he vetoed and pressured me to get married," she says. "The violence was there from the beginning. It started with verbal violence - humiliation, punishment, cursing. I bought a women's magazine that he thought I was not entitled to read. " Since then, a cycle of violence has begun in which the husband gets upset, beats, apologizes - and returns, God forbid. Even after their second son was born, things did not change.
In an attempt to gain financial independence, Assis began printing student papers and even hired a small office that succeeded, but the violence only increased.
"He wanted control of every step I made," she shares, "one day I was ten minutes late from work. He was furious, said I did not deserve to eat and threw my plate of food on the wall. He chased after me, grabbed my throat and tried to strangle me - and all. This is in the eyes of the 3-year-old boy. "
After this horrific incident Assis asked for a divorce, but he apologized again.
She tried to share with friends and family, thought they would be by her side, but everyone tried to persuade her to stay home and left her alone in the campaign.
It was another three years before she decided to run away from home.
"The years that followed were financially difficult," she says, "he refused to give me a divorce, I resented my life, I went into debt to fund legal proceedings, without help from the family."
Despite the difficulty, Assis did not give up.
She went on to study, completed a master’s degree in urban planning and now owns a thriving independent office.
At the same time, she volunteers at the "Female Spirit" organization as a mentor: "I knew that when I was strong and got out of it - I would help other women get out of this situation. I feel it is a mission."
On the decision to be exposed she says: "There is a certain shame. People ask, 'Why are you staying?'
"I'm not guilty, I should not be ashamed. He is the culprit, he is the criminal."
Dalia Assis // Photography without credit,
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