Yet, on a level of sub-consciousness, I was uncomfortable, to say the least. And one day my better sense finally ruled and I was able to put a stop to the craziness. When he called, I informed him I wouldn’t be seeing him anymore and asked him to please stop calling me. He persevered for a time, but I stood my ground. It wasn’t an easy move on my part, but I nevertheless knew that it was the right one.
Still, I was heartbroken and poured my heart out to a close friend who happened to be there to soothe me in my desolation. And that was when I got my rudest awakening. It turned out that she had walked in my shoes before me — that he had done the same with her. I was mortified. I had really believed that his feelings for me were genuine, that he had cared for me in earnest.
I went from heartache to my first bout with depression. Rachel, I can say in all honesty that this narcissistic man messed me up for life. And, for the record, he has never been found out. While he has raised a beautiful family, I cannot help but wonder how many lives this sick individual has adversely affected along the way.
Ironically, in school when we’d be about to take a test in one of his classes, he’d make the rounds and say to us, “Girls, you can cheat all you want. Just make sure you don’t get caught.” He would know… he had perfected the art.
I decided to tell you my story out of concern for young girls today who, like me, lack self-esteem and can be easily manipulated and taken for a ride by the suave and shrewd-yet-lowly creatures who walk the earth disguised as people of honor and distinction — roles they play so well that regardless of the cries of their victims, they will have supporters chanting in unison, “Him? Can’t be! Never! The nicest fellow, only out to help…”
In my day, “abuse” or “molest” were merely whispered about. (They’d have been foreign words to me and to many others.) Furthermore, I believe I’d have been loath to embarrass myself by exposing the pervert for what he was: a classic molester. But times have changed. And when a girl finds the courage to speak up, heaven help those who turn a deaf ear, or worse, have the audacity to vilify and criticize her. As I see it, no girl in her right mind would make such an accusation if she weren’t unbearably wounded to the core by the accused.
To devoted parents everywhere: Don’t assume that your children already know you love them. Make time for them and take an active interest in their day-to-day existence; expressing your feelings for them openly will encourage them to do the same and will imbue them with a strong sense of self-worth. Above all, listen to them — to their voices as well as their demeanor. If something seems “off” don’t brush it aside… you may be endangering the life of the neshama you took such pains to bring into this world.
Older, Wiser and Scarred
* * * * *
We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to email@example.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.