When faith is not enough: a Hasidic Jewish woman escapes an abusive marriage

Tanya grew up in a Hasidic Jewish community and she was taught to act in certain ways in order to be a good Jewish woman and wife. But she was struggling to do what was right in the eyes of her religion — and keep herself safe.
Tanya on her wedding day. (Photo used with permission)

[WARNING: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS DESCRIPTIONS OF VIOLENCE AND SOME PROFANITY]

It's amazing the things we stick with even when it doesn't feel right. Like staying in a relationship long after it becomes toxic.

Why do we do it? Well, there's pressure. It comes from everywhere: parents, partners, friends.

For Tanya — we're not using her last name because of the sensitive nature of her story — that pressure was woven into the fabric of her culture. She was raised in a Hasidic Jewish community.

She was taught, as a woman, to behave in certain ways, to follow certain rules. The deal was, she follows them, she's supposed to have a happy marriage.

But that's not what happened. She was struggling to do what was right in the eyes of her religion — and keep herself safe.

Producers Shea Shackelford and Tori Marlan bring us Tanya's story.

This documentary includes music by: Paul Tyan, Johnny Ripper, Circus Marcus, Will Bangs, Podington Bear, David Szesztay, and Munchen.
 

About the producers

Shea Shackelford
Shea Shackelford is passionate about the power of audio documentary to reach and transform people. He's a founder of the Big Shed production shop, and his awards include a bronze for Best Documentary at the 2010 Third Coast International Audio Festival for the story This Can Go On Forever. When Shea isn't making his own work, he's busy helping shows and stations to create special projects. Each summer you can find him teaching at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University as a producer-in-residence.
 
Tori Marlan
Tori Marlan is an award-winning journalist whose stories expose abuses of power, illuminate subcultures, and profile fascinating but unheralded people. From 1995 to 2007, she was a staff writer for the Chicago Reader, specializing in immersion journalism. Her freelance work has been published by Pacific Standard, The Atavist Magazine, BuzzFeed, the Texas Observer, and The Christian Science Monitor and featured on the Tablet Magazine podcast Vox Tablet and the public-radio shows This American Life and Weekend America.