On March 6, 2020, Purim morning, a Friday, my husband Barak Ben Ami stabbed my two little daughters and myself with a kitchen knife. He stabbed all three of us in the same methodical manner in the chest and neck – targeted slaughter, I call it.
The doctors managed to save my eldest, who was three at the time, and me. They failed to save Gonny, my helpless infant, only 10 months old. The damage to her small body was too brutal and extensive.
We’re talking about a vicious murderer, a flesh and blood man capable of understanding and distinguishing right from wrong.
Since then, I have gone through two years of hell, with no end in sight. Today more than ever I know that things must change around here. This is not just another slogan. At stake are our lives.
I believe that there are laws that we must amend or pass so that what happened to us won’t happen to others, and to ensure that everything that can be done for the living (and dead) victims is indeed done.
Before the murder, I had no interest in and nothing to do with the Israeli justice system as I am an architect by trade, and a completely normative woman – with no experience with courtrooms or lawsuits, criminal or civil. I had no idea, until I was forcibly pushed – in every aspect of life – because everything, even the tiniest thing, entailed a long and complex process.
Today I understand, in the most Kafkaesque way, that the bully who harmed you continues to fight you, and sometimes even wins, because there are no laws protecting us, the victims. It’s not that there is no one who wishes to help you – it’s just that there is no law to do so.
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Everything is supposedly on your side: The evidence, justice, integrity, morality, and decency. It’s all in your favor. And yet you’re told that there is no way to know what will happen at the end of the road, and not just in the criminal process, but in the civil arena and in recognition of your rights.
And I ask: Why must surviving victims discover that there is yet a long and horrific road ahead of them just to reach what everyone knows they deserve? Haven’t we been through enough?
I have been getting the impression of late that it is the lack of commitment of the legislative branch that has caused the rise in violent incidents in the country. I think we must deal with this, because it is only getting worse. It is important to me that every mother and father in Israel, who love their children and care about their future, know that even if they sleep well at night, they may wake up to discover that they were wrong.
We already see more and more cases of violence almost daily. Where is this all leading? I have an answer, and it is highly disturbing. My inbox is full of appeals from mothers, grandmothers, sisters, and wives all of whom are in the situation I was in. They are afraid for their children and for themselves. Afraid, because the law does not protect them. Afraid, because they will be vilified, people will say that they’re making it up, because they will be removed from their homes and placed in a shelter, and it's their routine will be the one disrupted – rather than the abuser being removed.
I am exposed to the harsh reality around us, and part of it, I am sad to say, is just beneath the surface. If it’s not in your home then it’s in your daughter's home, your neighbor's, your sister's or your cousin's – it’s right here. The darkness is here, and someone needs to turn on the light. There is so much shame and concealment, and it’s awful, because it’s a life of suffering no woman should go through.
In a few days, the government will vote on joining the Istanbul Convention. It's an international convention on fighting, treating, and preventing violence against women and domestic violence in general. In Israel, it is being led by Foreign Affairs Minister Yair Lapid, Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, and MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid).
Should the convention pass, and the darkness fail to defeat it, we will finally be able to deal with this important, complex, and sensitive issue. Let us pick up the gauntlet, because there is a lot here that will ultimately save the lives of many women, children, and men.
Look me in the eye and tell me that you will at least try to prevent the next murder, because there are ways to do so. The Istanbul Convention lists them, and provides tools for coping.
I call upon the government to seize this opportunity with both hands, so that we can raise our heads above water. Save us, because we are drowning.