Just as the scars of physical abuse remain with a person long after the actual bruises have healed, the lingering effects of intellectual abuse can mar a person's psyche for far longer than the short period of time one's memory recalls any particular ideas one was taught.
My antipathy stems not from any vicious or brutal experiences I suffered at the hands of my mentors, but from the relentless and meticulous assault they subjected my mind to; all the ideas and views they planted within me that are now holding me back every second of my life:
- The way they conditioned me to be afraid of the non-frum world; to distrust all from outside that world; to view it all as a place of sin and temptation always.
- The way they taught me that nothing is worth working for except torah.
- The way they taught me that being a good person counts for nothing if you are not keeping halacha.
- The way they taught me that a non-frum person could not possibly live a moral and ethical life, full of goodness and value.
- The way they taught me never to trust myself. Not my own ideas, my own conclusions, or my own feelings. Especially when a rabbi disagrees with them.
- The reliance on authority they ingrained in me which resulted in a horrible lack of personal responsibility.
- The distorted perspective of relationships they espouse.
- The persistent suspicion they implanted in me for any woman who isn't properly tz'nua (according to what they taught me tz'nua is).
- The negative self-image they cultivated in me by teaching that every infraction and deviation of halacha was a result of a moral failing.
- The sickening manner that they inject inappropriate sexual connotations into totally innocuous activities, ideas, and interactions.
- The shoddy manner of intellectual debate that is accepted in that world, which one is taught to believe is the proper way of thinking.
- The view that choices in life are all black and white, all or nothing, and that I have to choose it all, or else I'm choosing nothing.
- The way they've delegitimized in my mind any and every manner of religious expression aside from their own extremist approach.
To some extent I've managed to eradicate many of these toxic and debilitating ideas from my personality. Yet even with those successes, I can sense that they're still within me, because so often I have to consciously and deliberately tell myself not to react the way my natural instinct tells me to.
This is the sort of abuse that is so prevalent in chareidi society. Of course, they don't call it by that term. They refer to it instead as getting a proper chinuch.