08December

Turning Lives Around

Turning Lives Around


When “Lin” first met Judy Spira, a licensed clinical social worker in JF&CS’ Shalom Bayit program, she was a lost soul with nowhere to turn. An educated, articulate, career-minded mother of three in her late 30s who had grown up in East Asia, Lin (not her real name) had recently divorced a man who was abusive in every way — emotionally, physically and sexually.

Abuse was nothing new to Lin. When she was a child, her parents were neglectful, unloving and too busy to care for her, so they sent her to live with grandparents.

When she was older, her parents made her come home to care for the house and accommodate a wealthy but sexually abusive uncle. They verbally abused her and treated her harshly. So she set a goal of moving away to university. She completed all her coursework and exams, nished high school, applied to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and was accepted. She knew she couldn’t miss this opportunity, so she ignored her angry parents and le home. Her parents disowned her but said they would let her come back if she wanted to. Eventually, she returned and worked for them a few years. During that time, she tutored children at a local center, where she met an American woman. 

A donor at the University of Michigan, the woman was impressed with Lin and said she would help her. Lin applied to UM, was accepted and finally left for good. Her parents disowned her again. That was when she met “Lou.” They married, and within two weeks, he turned abusive. 

A job brought the couple to Atlanta, where she sought help from several religious leaders. They all said it was her fault, because she was not submissive. When she found the courage to leave, he maligned her mental state and took custody of their children.

When she found JF&CS. Judy taught her how to express herself and helped her understand the American culture and workplace. She also found Lin a psychiatrist. Eventually, Lin won joint custody of her kids.

Most important, Judy helped her discover she could be a nurturing, loving mother.

“It was the first time in her life that she had a family, people who loved her,” said Judy. “She didn’t know how to parent, because nobody parented her.”

Now Lin has a fantastic job and is doing really well, said Judy. She works in computer technology and is a single parent. “She really turned her life around.” 

For more information please contact Shalom Bayit at 770.677.9322 or shalombayit@jfcs-atlanta.org.

Written by Sheri Panovka, Posted in Counseling Services

About the Author

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka

Sheri Panovka is JF&CS' Marketing Communications Coordinator. As one of JF&CS' principal writers, writes for the printed publications, enewsletters, synagogue bulletins, website and many of our events.