Monday, January 6, 2014

Latest article-King of Hearts, Mishpacha

Last week, Mishpacha magazine published an article about abuse prevention in the Jewish community. The article made many interesting points! Email a copy of your response letter to Mishpacha to for publication on this blog. We welcome all submissions!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Trying To Get There

Dear Parents,

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about abuse and its effects, how to recognize it in your children and how to try to prevent it from happening. I'm trying to bring out a little from the inside perspective here. You're welcome to listen, or ignore and read on. What you do is your choice.
Your daughters are in pain, and if I could describe to you a little bit of what they are going through, it would be enough to start tears to fill a pond, and with theirs, a river. The only problem is they can't even cry. The hurt, anguish, anxiety and shame is of a depth that cannot even begin to be imagined. Unless you've experienced it on some level, which I fervently pray you haven't, you can't begin to comprehend. They're living with a body that rebelled against themselves, and they can't run away. They're living with a shame of another person, the guilt of a different being, anger that is not their own, and thoughts that became their life. They're living with a mind that took over and they can't escape. A lot is to be said for where they stand in life. I know. I'm there.
I seem like a typical girl but everywhere besides for the surface, I'm anything but. My similarities to other girls my age changed and stopped when I was ten. A neighbor took care of that for me when he stole my childhood innocence and purity. He stole my mind, robbed me of my body, and took over my thoughts. He set my life up for me very different than I ever imagined. Once I understood what happened, and I began to grasp what went on, my outlook changed, my views and opinions changed, and I changed...drastically...almost shockingly. And the same in some form happened to your daughters I'm talking about. Sleep is almost non-existent for most of us, and daily functions have become a major chore. I can't explain what it does. I can't explain the long-term effects of abuse, but I can tell you it's not easy. And your daughters need your support. I'm writing a letter to my parents in this, and it's a letter that any girl in similar situations will relate to. Read it, try to understand it, but appreciate the time, effort, struggle and pain that went into it.

Dear Tatty and Mommy,
What happened happened and the clocks cannot be turned back. The drum roll has begun, and the show is in full swing. It's too late to turn back life's dials. We can only try and keep them going. The abuse was traumatic, the experience was painful. I can't talk for others; I don't know, but I know mine is deep and uncovering it takes work. That work is draining. It's tiring, frustrating, hurtful, scary and overwhelming at times. There are times when it's too much for me to deal with, let alone clean my room. The thoughts that come to the forefront during the process are monstrous and take over, leaving no room for any others. Yes, my schoolwork suffered, and I have been available to help out less. It's true I've had less patience, and socially, I've become more shy sometimes. I know it's frustrating to see the change, but please believe that it will come to an end soon enough, and if you help me and support me, encouraging me to go on, I'll snap back to a better me than I used to be a lot faster and more easily. Give me the time and space I need to get through this with you.
I know it's not easy for you to see. Believe me, it's not easy for me either. I feel bad when I see you throw your hands up in despair, or rush to get things done before Shabbos, because I was sleeping having not have slept for three days before. I wish things were different too.
But it's not my choice, and this is the package I've been given. I intend to send it back nicer than it came to me. I wish this was over as well, but it will be someday.
Mommy, Tatty, I wish I could explain myself better to you, but I'm trying to figure myself out as well. I know I've sort of shut you out of my life for a while as I talk to someone else about my innermost self and feelings. I know it's hard for you to see me go to someone else with my pain, my tears, confusion, anger and resentment. I know you feel as if you lost me. But you didn't. I'm doing what I need to do to get back to myself, to become the daughter you used to know. I'm not angry at you. I don't blame you. I love you. You are my parents, and will always continue to be so. I just need a little time now so I can work things out, and I'll come back to you again. I never could have gotten here if not for you to begin with. You're on the forefront of my mind, and I wait for the day I'll be able to open up to you again. It's precisely because you're so close to me I can't begin to talk to you about what occurred. It's because I feel the love that I've pushed it away. I know it sounds unfair, but please understand, and try and help me through this in whatever way you can, however difficult I am. I have to live with myself too. I know I'm not easy. I know. I'm asking anyways, and soon enough it'll all be over, and we'll smile looking back. With your support and unconditional love, I'll get through it.
Thank you for trying to understand,
I love you always,

I'm not writing this letter to vent. I'm not writing it to blame. I'm not writing it to ask for pity. I'm just trying to make you aware so you can try to begin to understand and be there for her. Many of you might be wondering why I'm making such a big deal over this. Truthfully, I question that also. Why was it such a major thing? Why does it have such an effect? It's a question I'm still waiting to be answered. I'm the first to agree with you that it's crazy. But it's true, and it's fact. abuse hurts, and the effects linger. If it's not dealt with, it'll hibernate, remain dormant, and at one point become an active volcano. At that point you don't want it to be too late. She needs your support. She needs your encouragement. But most of all, she needs you to accept her as she is.
Show her she's still your daughter, and you still love and accept her for who and what she is. I know I changed, and your daughter probably did too. Love her anyways, and let her know you do. The process will take time, but eventually it'll end, and you'll have the daughter you knew back again. Maybe different, but special (or even more) the same.
Good luck!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

letter from a survivor

this letter was forwarded to me, with a note to please pass it on:

Dear Rabbi Eisenman,

Thank you for planning the event in your Shul this Motzei Shabbos.

You know me, meaning, you see me in shul and at your shiurim, however, I have never told you who I really am.

I am a survivor.

It began when I was twelve and continued until I was fourteen.

My parents still do not know.

You see me and you see me smile, however, the pain is never forgotten, the pain is always there.

However, I have survived and I thank Hashem for allowing me to survive.

I am enclosing something I wrote for the event you are hosting on Motzei Shabbos.

I know you have and will get ‘flack’ for being so open about this topic.

I know you will get ‘flack’ for allowing survivors to speak irrespective of the fact that they may not be politically correct.

However, you should just know that I and hundreds of other survivors are with you.

I am enclosing something I wrote which describes me and my fellow survivors.

If you want you can send out to the Shul, -please do not use my name.


No one wants to be a loser.

No one wants to be defeated.

We all want to continue living and to still ‘be in the running’.

No one wants to be eliminated.

The Jewish people are survivors.

In every generation there are those who attempt to destroy us.

However, Hashem saves us from their evil hands.

We live in the United States of America.

There is no one here who is attempting to annihilate us.

There is no one here who is attempting to stop us.

However, even if from ‘without’ there is no one who is standing upon us to destroy us; there are people who are ‘within’ us who are hurting us.

There are people who maybe in our homes and in our schools;

In our Mikvaos and in our sleeping quarters -who are attempting to hurt us.

The crime they inflicted on me was inflicted in the private; however, the pain must be known to the public.

They prey on the unprotected and they look for the most precious of our possessions, our children.

Sometimes these people are related to us and they sometimes can be people we are taught to trust and respect.

When I was hurt, others are so shocked they assumed I was lying, that ‘it can’t be’.

However, trust me, it happened.

Trust me, the pain never goes away.

We just ask that you see us and recognize us for what we are- Jews.

Jews who have behaved like Jews have behaved for the last two thousand years; we survived; and we will continue to survive.

Hear our voices, feel our pain- that is all we ask.

Name withheld upon request.

Monday, September 7, 2009

response to "protecting our children"

from one of "my" girls. don't know if it will be published, but she's sending it in!

This letter is addressed to the concerned mother who wrote in to the Readers Write a couple weeks ago about having letters of abuse written in the Yated. My letter is overdue, but the feelings still remain.
Reading your letter that Shabbos, I finally understood why the shame of abuse exists. For a while now I've been meaning to write a letter, as a victim of abuse, just to let people know what I was feeling, about it's negative effects that linger, and beg them to finally do something to protect their children. I'm not blaming anyone, and for me, it's too late. But knowing the feeling and living the pain, shame and confusion, I wouldn't want anyone to have to live through it too. I'm merely expressing my thoughts, and realize I may be asking for trouble, but your letter opened a Pandora's box and compelled me to finally write this letter.
You write, as a concerned mother, and I understand where your coming from. However, I question the validity and practicality of your letter. You say your kids will read things in the Readers Write that you would like to the the one to educate them about-not the Readers Write. I agree with you that it is your right and privilege. However, how young is your child who is reading the Dear Editor letters and who's interest has been held long enough in the state of Obama's affairs, political happenings in the world, the shidduch crisis, the visiting day crisis, various tidbits of information, and various readers' opinions, to stay stimulated until these topics are brought up at the end, on the third page of the Readers Write, approximately 100 pages into the Yated? Aren't they already old enough to be educated?
True it's a sensitive topic of controversial nature, but does that warrant the insensitivity on your part to argue against it on the basis of your 13 year old child possibly reading that letter? I'll blame it on ignorance rather than insensitivity maybe, but how about if I told you that keeping your child uninformed and unexposed can lead them to become perfectly naive, a prime target for victimization? How about if I told you that I am testimony to that-from a young age. Much too young and innocent to be interested in what is written in the Readers Write? How about if I told you about the anger that is harbored against those that saw and didn't do, those that knew and didn't say? Children far younger than that in age and maturity have already been subjected to abuse and its ugliness by then and keeping your children sheltered and innocent is not protecting them.
The courage and pain that goes into writing a letter like that is something only another victim can identify, and I salute her bravery. Kudos to her for opening a small crack of her life to reveal a part of what truly goes on and help people become aware. It's about time someone was able to come out and say something to make a statement that something that is tolerated without meaning to, shunned and shoved under the carpet is NOT okay and shouldn't be accepted and lived with. It's the outlook your letter portrayed that causes the shame she writes about. And that hurt. Please, do me (and yourself) a favor-research the topic. Research the staggering statistics, its profound effects and do something about it other than write a letter about the inappropriateness of such letters in a readers' opinion column.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

another letter

this is a letter to the yated, written by a big supporter of AUS, in response to the letter "to mommy and totty," titled "suffering in silence" by the yated.

Dear Editor,
I am not an activist or much of a letter writer, but after reading the letter "suffering in silence" in last week's Yated, I felt I must take pen in hand.
A special "hotline" that's swamped with calls, a website where dozens of frum, young abused women give each other chizuk. What has happened to the goy kadosh? This is not the first "Suffering in Silence" letter. Why are our children afraid to talk to us? Is it because we don't listen?
Please, Roshei Yeshiva and Mechanchim: too many yeshivaleit think shmiras einayim is some "chassidish mumbo jumbo." If they don't learn the chomer ha'issur in yeshiva when/where are they going to learn? It's a slippery slope-looking, touching, and then....R"L.
Parents: when children come to you with horrible allegations, listen! Investigate! Get in touch with the rabbanim and mechanchim who deal with this problem. And get your child help! Whether or not the allegations are true, your child needs help.
And parents: where do you stand? What magazines and other reading material do you have in your home? Unfortunately, there are no longer any "kosher" secular magazines. No, not even Good Housekeeping or Reader's Digest. What radio stations/music is heard in your home? Need I mention the internet?
We have lost all sense of propriety and we have to turn the tide.
It's Chodesh Elul. Let's take a long hard look at our lives and strive to bring more kedusha into our homes, and above all, cry our eyes out to the Ribbono Shel Olam for siyata d'Shmaya, and stop this plague that's destroying our children.
A Concerned Yid

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Stop the Chain

from here:

a shortened version of this letter was also printed in the yated.

Abuse is more common in the Jewish community than most people think it is. How can I say that? Well, I am a survivor of abuse, and including myself, I know of five people who were abused within a two-block radius. That is five people too many. Dov Hikind reported getting hundreds of calls from abuse survivors. This means there are probably thousands of Orthodox Jewish people who were or still are being abused.
The abuse that I suffered could have been entirely prevented if I had been educated about this topic at a young age. I went through the Bais Yaakov system and not one teacher discussed this topic. If I had been told the basics about the difference between good touch and bad touch, then my abuse wouldn’t have started in the first place.
As a result of not knowing, I suffered in silence for four terrible years. I am now traumatized for life. I get triggered every single day. 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 teach their students about this topic. Parents also must be educated, especially about the warning signs and symptoms of abuse. 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. “Schools forbid me from coming,” she replied. Atrocities are being committed because Jewish children are not being educated on the topic of abuse.
The writer Guy Finley once said, “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 doesn’t occur in the Jewish community makes the situation worse. It rears its ugly head in other ways. For me, my body is covered in scars since that was the only way I knew how to deal with so much inner pain.
The chain can be broken if our Jewish children are educated. Education is the only road to prevention. Without education, the chain just continues. Do something about the situation. Stop the chain. Today.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Seeing the Positive

not sure what the main point is in this one, but it was published in the yated, from a survivor.

I would like to address the sensitive topic that has been discussed the past few weeks, as my experience has been very different than the general concencus.

I, too, was hurt by an older person whom i trusted. It hurt. My father zt"l always told me when i was growing up that life was hard. He used to take me to the hospital to visit people who were ill. He took me every friday to help prepare food for people who didn't have any. He would tell us about tragedies in people's lives, and we would say Tehillim together. He used to say, "Life is hard, but as long as you put on tefillin each morning, life is fun."

I think my father inoculated me from getting too down in life. Who am i to withdraw from society because I got hurt, when everyone around me has their own problems?

I've been married now for ten years and have five children, boruch Hashem. I can still feel the pangs of pain of a little bewildered kid inside me, but it is overwhelmed by the feelings of gratitude I feel to my father zt"l.

Name Withheld