Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Victim Speaks

A guest post by TikunOlam

I've recently begun corresponding with a the member of the DovBear community. He is a successful, frum, married man with children. Not long ago, during the discussions on the blog regarding the Markey Bill, he sent me a link to an article published on VIN written by Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz, Editor of the charedi newspaper Yated. In the article, R' Lipschutz began to address the problem of childhood sexual abuse and specifically focused on the trauma to the victims and the impact it has on their lives. My DB reader friend told me to specifically look for the comments authored by him, the ones authored by "A Victim."

The following in a except from R' Lipschutz's article:

. . .The sad fact is that children in our community are being abused by perpetrators who prey upon their innocence and our silence. We don’t have a count of how many people are hurt, but it is much larger than we realized, even a short time ago. There is no real debate about the catastrophic effects of abuse.

The innocence and purity of children is destroyed for life. The victims remain hurt, shamed and scarred. They suffer in silence, afraid to reveal their secret to anyone. They are hounded by feelings of guilt and embarrassment and live lives of tortured pain. The overwhelming majority of survivors suffer in silence, unless they are lucky enough to endure agonizing, arduous, expensive therapy. . .

The article in its entirety: VIN article

With "A Victim's" permission, I have cut, pasted and rearranged his comments in order to tell his story.

First, I am a victim, however I am a unique victim. I was molested "only" twice. Once when I was 11 by a virtual stranger in shul during Shalosh Seudos. I did not understand that I had been molested but I knew the pain and fear that I felt afterwards. It certainly affected me. I can still sense the feeling of "What is this guy doing to me? Is he supposed to have his hands in my pants? Why does he keep moving me around on his lap?". It hurts to even write those words.
The second time I was well into my teens. A (very choshuv) older bocher molested me for a very extended period of time. We were actually learning in the Beis Medrash (study hall) in broad daylight. He as pulling my chair close to him and putting his hands in inappropriate places. Here is the key - my brain did not even tell me what was happening. I am sure it is because I was molested once before so my brain was unable to process what was happening. The episode probably lasted nearly an hour. I cannot explain why I did not leave, other than my brain could not process what was happening. I went through a period of about a week where I did not leave my dorm room until I finally mustered enough courage to tell my Menahel what happened.

Baruch Hashem my Menahel is an outstanding mechanech and he knew exactly what to do. He dealt with the bochur (severely) and I truly believe that the predator was regretful and worked on himself to the point that he may have nisyonos but is able to overcome them. He apologized to me and we reconciled. By my Menahel's instructions, I was not allowed to have anything to do with him and we had very little contact. I called him the day of my wedding and was mochel him. I see him once in a while and we are "civil" around each other. My situation is unique because I did not keep the abuse inside and my attacker actually acknowledged and apologized for what happened. Most of the time, the abuse goes undetected, undealt with and the victim keeps their feelings bottled up inside causing tremendous harm.

Second, I have a close relationship with another victim. Also unique, but much more severe. (This person REALLY wants to remain even more anonymous than I.) He/she was molested by a family member for a period of 5-6 years. Much of what I understand about molestation victims comes from his/her therapy and our conversations and self discovery together. He/ she has suffered tremendously and continues to suffer each day. He/she has no memories from his/her teenage years. He/she blocked out the pain and only now through therapy does he/she even begin to feel what he/she never felt as a child. You can imagine the inner conflict that he/she feels keeping such a powerful secret...

As I mentioned earlier - I have been waiting 16 years for a day like today to come. It is time for Klal Yisrael to do something about this problem - now. As to your vort (referring to another commenter's Torah thought about denial), I think it is evident that I agree wholeheartedly to a point. All victims deny that they are victims. This is part natural and part because there is no outlet for a victim to report such behavior. I truly believe that a real mechanech would know what to do just as me menahel did. However, true mechanchim are few and far between.

The reason for the cover up is simply because no one knows what to do! Where should the victim go? Very often the molester is a person of authority and now the victim is not going to trust authority. I was unique, I was the exception, I had the confidence to do what needed to be done and report my attacker. Sadly nearly every other victim does not share this with me.
Imagine, not trusting authority, hating yourself because you think it was all your fault, having no childhood memories other than the fear of the next attack and then being so alone with no one to talk to about all these problems. Imagine that every day you feel that pain and shame of being molested. Not one day goes by without being reminded how you were violated.

I have waited all of my life since the first time I was molested when I was 11 for the frum world to acknowledge the existence of the problem and the toxicity of its effects. You cannot imagine the pain a victim feels each day that he or she knows that their predator is still on the loose able to attack freely. But at this point there is no choice. Known predators live in our communities. Known predators are working in our day schools, yeshivas and camps. It is unconscionable that we are harboring these sickos and giving them the green light to continue. I challenge any "gadol" to look a victim in the eye and say "It's okay if this happens to more people", "molesters know how to control themselves", "I can't believe such a great person would do such a bad thing", "It probably is not as big a deal as you're making it out to be". With the psychological evidence that we have today it is unacceptable to say or even think those things.

I beg you all, please help to stop sexual predators from molesting our children. I have 2 sons and every single day I fear that chas v'shalom, Hashem yerachem, they could become the next victims. We should not have to live in fear. We are the mamleches kohanim v'goy kadosh, why is it acceptable to molest innocent children?

PS: The assumption seems to be that Rebbeim are the only molesters in the frum community, this is simply not true at all, there are "older bochurim" in yeshivas, counselors in camps, fathers, brothers and neighbors that have molested our fellow yidden as well, please be vigilant and let us begin to eradicate molestation from our midst.

Search for more information about victims of sexual abuse at 4torah.com.

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