Surviving an Abusive Mother – A Long Walk To Freedom


Avi*, a ninth grader at Boys Town Jerusalem, gave Principal Rabbi Yehudah Rosencrantz a wan smile as he came into his office several weeks ago. “I had a difficult Shabbat (Sabbath),” he said in a near whisper. “Please, I need you to help me escape from my mother, once and for all!”

“Avi’s mother has abused this child since birth,” Rabbi Rosencrantz explained. “After she and his father divorced several years ago, the custody battle went all the way to the courts where the judge ordered Avi’s father (now remarried) full custody of his son. Yet his mother still maintains a stronghold over this child.”


“Please, I need you to help me escape from my mother, once and for all!”
Although Rabbi Rosencrantz has seen his share of students’ painful home situations, he was shocked by Avi’s revelation. “He told me that his mother had forced him to come to her home for the Sabbath. When a terrible argument broke out between the two, his mother turned violent and beat him with a vengeance. He literally escaped with his life.”

Yet the escape came at a high price. “Avi found himself in the street in a city where he knew no one,” Rabbi Rosencrantz said. “Despite his bruised body and battered emotions, Avi picked himself up and set out for his father’s apartment. An Orthodox Jew, Avi made the Sabbath journey entirely on foot. For hours, the 15-year-old maneuvered highways and hills to walk a full 17 miles home.”


“Thanks to the open lines of communication, we were able to take immediate steps to help Avi face the crisis”
As he comforted the shaken student, Rabbi Rosencrantz began mobilizing resources to help Avi overcome this latest trauma. “Fortunately, Avi’s teachers, rabbis, dorm counselors, and the school’s social worker have been working as a team on his behalf since Avi reached Boys Town Jerusalem last year. Thanks to the open lines of communication, we were able to take immediate steps to help Avi face the crisis and painstakingly continue to build his emotional independence. Under our guidance, Avi’s father is involved as well.”

Rabbi Rosencrantz recalled that from the moment Avi first enrolled at Boys Town Jerusalem, he won the hearts of his teachers and classmates. “In spite of his personal hardships, Avi is a sweet, bright boy who is easy to love. Beyond the emotional assistance, we’ve also highly subsidized Avi’s tuition and offered him a full range of extra-curricular activities at no cost, in light of his family’s financial difficulties.

“Several weeks ago Avi moved into the BTJ dormitory, which should prove to be a major bonus,” Rabbi Rosencrantz noted. “At home in Boys Town Jerusalem, we can make certain that he eats well, keeps up with his studies, excels in sports, and gets constant moral support. Our priority is to help him come to grips with the complex relationship to his mother and emerge with greater confidence and self-esteem.

“This latest episode shows that Avi is blessed with an unconquerable spirit. We’re here to help him harness this strength to build a future that’s secure and bright.”

*Not his real name

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