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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communites – 7/03/09

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Dear Rachel,

Abuse is rampant in the Jewish community. How can I say that it is rampant? Well, I am a survivor of abuse. Including myself, I know of five people who were abused within a two-block radius. That is five people too many.

Dov Hikind has already gotten hundreds of calls from abuse survivors. This means there are probably thousands of Orthodox Jewish people who were, or are still being abused.

The abuse that I suffered could have been entirely prevented if I had been educated about this topic at a young age, but schools don’t address the issue. I went through the Bais Yaakov system and not one teacher discussed this topic. If I had been told the basics, nothing detailed, then my abuse wouldn’t have started in the first place.

As a result of not knowing about this topic, I suffered in silence for four terrible years. I am now traumatized for life. Even just walking out of my house brings horrific memories to my mind. I now suffer every day from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and borderline personality disorder.

Schools need to talk about this issue. Without knowledge, the chain just continues. Shoving the topic under the rug does not make it disappear. Is the Jewish community afraid that something terrible will happen if they educate their children?

I asked my therapist why she doesn’t go to schools to teach children on a basic level about the topic of abuse. She replied that schools won’t allow her to.

Jewish children need to be educated on the topic of abuse.

Guy Finley [in his book, The Secret of Letting Go] writes, “Trying to forget a fear is like trying to hold an inflated basketball under the water. It takes all of your strength and attention, and in time it must pop to the surface.” Making believe that abuse does not occur in our communities makes the entire situation one hundred times worse. It rears its ugly head in other ways. For me, my body is covered with scars, since that was the only way I knew how to deal with so much inner pain.

With education, the chain can be broken. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a thousand pounds of cure.

Some people may say, okay, let’s only tell the girls since it occurs only among young girls. Of the five people whom I know to have been abused, two of them are boys. Education is the only road to prevention. Without education, the chain just continues.

Do something about the situation. Stop the chain. Today.

Concerned about the future of Klal Yisrael

Dear Concerned,

Yes, the horrific scourge of abuse has been eating away at our hapless young, the injustice being the longstanding reluctance of individuals in a position of influence to pay heed to the unthinkable occurring in their midst.

Yes, we have been rudely awakened from our innocent slumber. To be sure, ours is a refined culture, one that is shaped by age-old Torah statutes that sculpt our way of life. Many of us, until recent times, would never have believed any of our people capable of perpetrating this type of heinous abuse.

Some will blame naiveté, others tend to accuse us of being ignorant, but even the world-wise among us were (and still are) of the conviction that such deviant behavior is an aberration in our community. As difficult as it may be for a suffering victim to accept, relative to secular society, abuse in our collective communities – though having gone unchecked for too long now – is not as widespread as the concentration of recent news flashes would have us believe.

But, alas, even one victim is too many, and as a charitable and good-natured people, our hearts cry along with every single victim we are made aware of. Every son and daughter is everyone’s son and daughter.

Courageous leaders such as Assemblyman Dov Hikind and noted educator Rabbi Yakov Horowitz are to be lauded for their tireless efforts to weed the bad seed from our beautiful garden. Moreover, they should have the support and backing of every decent, caring and clear-thinking Jewish soul.

You are totally justified in your outrage. You have suffered horrendous physical and emotional pain that most of us, thankfully, cannot begin to fathom.

Yes, we are responsible for one another, and yes, it is the duty of those in whose care we entrust our children to educate and enlighten them. (Parents must do their part and not rely solely on the school system.)

And, yet, the concept of our schools indoctrinating our young and innocent in the subject of abuse, (exposing their pure intellect to the existence of deviancy), is a difficult one to digest and relatively foreign to us as a whole. In this light it is understandable that your teachers did not think to warn you, to alert you and your peers to the ugliness that they never imagined would infiltrate our own private circles.

Now that the stark reality has hit us hard, we have no choice but to accept that we cannot rely on the insulation of our communities to protect our vulnerable young against predators, to concede that the era of innocence (if it ever truly existed outside of wishful thinking) is no more, and to unite in “arming” our children by educating them against unsuspected dangers that can chas v’shalom be their ruin.

Thank you for baring your pain and torment in the hope of sparing others the same.

May you know complete healing and merit to bask in endless joy of your own beautiful garden.

Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to rachel@jewishpress.com

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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