Scars of the Soul: Get Refusal and Spiritual Abuse in Orthodox Jewish Communities
- Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues
- Indiana University Press
- Number 31, Spring-Fall 5777-78/2017
- pp. 37-60
- Additional Information
Get refusal is a situation in which one member of a divorcing couple refuses to cooperate in the issuing of a get, a bill of Jewish divorce, leaving their former partner unable, under Jewish law, to remarry—or even, in the case of the wife, to form a new relationship. While there has been increasing recognition in the Jewish community that get refusal often represents a form of domestic abuse, there has been little discussion of how to categorize this particular type of abusive behavior. In this article, I argue that get refusal, in many cases, may be viewed as a form of spiritual abuse, in which faith is turned into a weapon of power and control in an abusive relationship. I will examine the way get refusal mirrors other forms of spiritual abuse by impacting a victim's sense of self, place in the world and community. Finally, I will outline the importance of discussing get refusal and other forms of faith-related divorce-denial through the lens of spiritual abuse, in order to build understanding with clergy, mental health and social services practitioners, and religious communities.