The secretive nature of the shame borne by victims presents unique challenges to navigate. It has taken our community decades to more openly disclose other deeply personal secrets such as cancer and infertility. Rav Joseph B. Soloveitchik described two types of pain, the sensation of physiological pain and the suffering of emotional pain. The suffering of emotional pain – such as shame – he explained, is a much more difficult trajectory than the sensation of physiological pain.
We can never equate one person’s physical pain with another’s emotional suffering. We can, however, demonstrate our resolve not to let those who do, suffer in silence.
David Mandel is chief executive officer of OHEL Children’s Home and Family Services. He is the co-editor with Dr. David Pelcovitz of “Breaking the Silence: Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community.” He can be reached at email@example.com. Visit OHEL’s website at www.ohelfamily.org