Thursday, July 30, 2009
This i saddressed to "Happy Girl,"
Your shame...I feel too.
The loneliness...I am acquainted with only too well.
Anger...I really know.
Hurt...there is no end.
The shock and frustration...I understand.
I felt the depth of every word in your letter. Each and every one cut a knife into my heart, and when i withdrew it, I found myself, strangely, a bit more healed. I guess I am not so alone.
I am also a very regular girl (albeit a younger one) with a secret. Your pain is my pain too.
Dear readers, I hope "abuse" has not become merely a word. Let me tell you what it really is. In truth, it is to experience utter dehumanization so much that it is probably as close to a death experience as one can get. Only victims of abuse can know the feeling of such intense guilt, shame, and self hatred and still be cognizant of the fact that they are illogical emotions, since victims are not the perpetrators.
As a frum, smart normal girl, I take the liberty of writing this letter as a representative of other Bais Yaakov girls who are suffering very quietly. I don't knwo who they are, because like me, their secret is well guarded behind a facade of perfect normalcy, but they deserve medals for their heroism.
We have been hurt terribly and can be so dreadfully alone (yes, despite the many admiring friends, teachers or neighbors we have) and so we have formed a very strong bond with Hashem. THe amount of pain and humiliation we have suffered in our lives can be the perfect recipe for disaster and for drifting far away from Torah. But we choose a different route. We choose to become closer to Hakadosh Baruch Hu and to bask in His loving embrace. "At risk" teenagers we are not. When the suffering intensifies, we are not on the street, but are crying into our sifrei Tehillim and struggling valiantly to retain our sense of identity and dignity. We are heroes in every sense of the word.
Our healing process has not really begun. We cannot give chizuk to others, go for therapy, or look back in retrospect and write letters to the Yated to raise awareness. We live with our pain in the moment; we are still stuck in the sporadic cycle of abuse. THe place we call home is a danger zone, where physical violence and verbal abuse is unpredictable and knows no boundaries, and sadly, the abuser(s) is no other than our very own parent(s)/family member(s).
Whom do we turn to? Are we meant to suffer and wait for all our school years to pass until we can finally get help? Where is our support system? Who will give us the motherly warmth we so desperately crave? Is it fair for us to ask someone to take responsiblity? To make sure we receive mega-doses of love? Can someone provide a listening ear, empathy, an open heart or proper guidance? Sometimes all we need is a smile or a hug. Is it too much to ask for?
Another Happy Girl
Monday, July 20, 2009
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
You've probably been unable to escape the grim reality that's been darkening the pages of the various frum publications recently. You probably read the editorials, interviews and letters about the heart wrenching issue of abuse in our communities with a mixture of shock and horror. Then you turn the page and say "Baruch Hashem this isn't MY problem."
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
What would you say if I would tell you that these things are more your problem than you can imagine. What would you say if I would tell you that these things happen in your very own family? What would you say if I would tell you that my cousin, your nephew, had abused me....your daughter?
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
It probably hurts you to hear that your daughter is suffering, that your daughter is going through this nisayon, and she doesn't feel safe enough to tell you. Believe me Mommy and Tatty, it hurts me so much more. You think the two of us are close mommy? Believe me, the distance between us is far greater than you could ever imagine.
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
I am the model daughter, the catch in shidduchim. I'm sure it doesn't occur to you where I go each week, does it? Mommy, Tatty, I go to therapy. Yes, me, your perfect daughter. I have ten years of abuse, ten years of suffering and pain to work through.
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
Isn't it a tragedy that I can't come to you, my parents, for help, care, love and understanding? Isn't it tragic that I endured inhumane abuse rather than face my parents and deal with their possibly negative reaction? Mommy, Tatty, the abuse went on for 10 years! Imagine if I would have felt comfortable enough to approach you years ago...perhaps it would have stopped sooner.
Dear Mommy and Tatty,
Imagine if we could recreate society's attitude towards abuse victims. Imagine if we would be made to understand, from an early age, that nobody will ever think we are at fault, and we would be assured acceptance regardless of our circumstances.
Imagine if instead of suffering in painful silence, I could, at long last fall into your outstretched arms....
This letter has not been printed yet. However, there is still hope that someone will publish it in the near future! Please keep the letters coming!
I have followed with interest the conversation about sexual abuse taking places in the pages of Jewish publications these past months. My interest would not have been as great had I not recently reconnected with a long-time friend.
After high school, my friend and I slowly parted ways. I couldn’t understand why she made so many self-sabotaging decisions, and she never explained. There was a lack of understanding between us that obstructed communication, and we slowly drifted apart.
It was only recently, through the faceless communication of the internet, that she revealed to me that she had been sexually abused when younger. The trauma she still suffered made ordinary life painful and difficult. For her, something as simple as standing on a crowded train filled her with the same sense of dread I feel when a stranger has been following me through a bad neighborhood late at night.
Now that I understood what drove her counterintuitive behavior, we picked up where we left off. In candid conversation she would tell me about her abuser and the abuse suffered by the friends in her support network. I was filled with revulsion. I used to read such stories in the secular media with a horrified fascination, secure in the knowledge that this could never happen in my community.
Well it happens. It happens in my neighborhood and yours; to my friend and yours. It is important for people to know how widespread this problem is so that they can protect themselves and their children, and so that the religious community can take steps to prevent such horrors from occurring in the future.
Recently, politician Dov Hikind spoke about collecting an abuse task force to deal with this problem in our community. After the initial mention, we have never heard of it again. Possibly he had difficulty finding people in the community willing to deal with this shameful aspect of our lives.
It is shameful, but it is far more shameful to avoid facing it because of our shame. In the past, learning disabilities, mental illness, and cognitive handicaps were all considered stigmas, but our community has progressed and now actively supports people with these difficulties. Let’s do it again, for the victims of sexual abuse. The shame should not be theirs, but their abusers.
We can do it, but only a flood of information can wash the stigma away through the simple power of familiarity.
I urge you to pursue coverage on the subject of sexual abuse – if only on the lack of action being taken to combat it. By spreading awareness, we can prevent the suffering, lost time, and ruined lives suffered by my friend and hers.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
What it feels like to survive abuse
To the Editor:
I sat next to you in class, I live on your block. I went to your camp, I studied with you for tests. I am a regular girl.
A regular girl with a huge secret.
When I was six years old, my father’s friend took me down to my basement to play. He used the privacy of the basement to do inappropriate and untzniusdik (immodest) things to me. It took me years of suffering in shameful silence to come out and admit the horrific truth: I had been abused. The full extent of the evil deeds this man had committed didn’t hit me until years and years later. Now, as a young adult, standing on the threshold of my adulthood, I am forced to deal with the daily reality of what this means to me, so many years later.
As I sit and think about what this man has caused, about the ramifications this has had, and will have, on my life, I am engulfed by masses of feelings.
Ashamed. Ashamed? Ashamed of how my body was used, how my body was abused. Ashamed of how I am different. Ashamed of the things that I’ve gone through.
Lonely. Lonely? Can you imagine the feeling of being surrounded by friends, yet unable to get help from any of them? Can you imagine the feeling of being the post popular girl in the class, yet staring at all of the admiring girls from behind a huge glass partition? Can you imagine the feeling of being surrounded by masses of girls, dancing in a happy circle around the radiant Kallah, yet feeling like I am the only one who isn’t part of the joy?
Angry. Angry? Sure I am angry with my abuser, but it’s more than that. I feel angry at the world. Angry with the people who have created a society where I have to be ashamed, to keep HIS secret.
Hurt. Hurt? Yes, physically hurt. This man hurt me, but it was more than that. I am also hurt at those few people who know my secret, who are privy to my pain. Hurt at their lack of support. Hurt at their lack of understanding.
Shocked. Shocked? Shocked that this could happen to a “regular” girl like me. Shocked at the way one man can change the entire course of my life. Shocked that people aren’t doing more to stop it.
Frustrated. Frustrated? Frustrated that people think I did something wrong. I was six years old at the time. Frustrated that people pity me. I am still a regular girl. Frustrated that people think it doesn’t happen in “our” world. Frustrated that we can’t talk about such things. Frustrated that people are sweeping a problem that is such a big part of my life under the rug.
Hopeful. Hopeful? Hopeful that some day in the near future I won’t be forced under a blanket of shame. Hopeful that Hashem will continue to give me the strength to grow from my challenges and use my experiences to help others in similar situations. Hopeful that frum publications will continue to help raise awareness by printing my letter.
Editor’s note: Name withheld by request due to the sensitive, highly personal nature of the letter.
below, please find the comments from here
this is step 1) the next step is you must go to the police and report it. there have been a number of cases lately where the victim went to the rabanim to do something about their plight, when the rabanim tried to help the perpetrators side criminalizes the rabanim and the victim. i spoke to one of the rabanim involved and asked how is this problem going to be addressed he answered he's telling anyone who has a complaint now to go straight to the police. i know its scary but going to the police will protect future victims and it will help you heal,also there's a new law that you can do this and not have face the perp in court you can stay anonymous. i wish you all the best be strong you'll help yourself and many others
July 27, 2009 11:51 AM
Shame on you lakewood scoop. This is purer loshon hora on our ihr hatora. We had enough bad news this week now youy want to make us all look lioke sickk people. This girl is obviosly off the derech and looking for someone to blame. I don't know anyone in this town that would do anything to a little girl. Boy maybe. Not girl. Clean up your act. Did you ask ashaila before you published this nivul peh?
July 27, 2009 11:55 AM
i wish you would write the guys name. poeple like this need to learn, not learn by sitting in jail but learning in other ways. there are people that want to help just ask. Just ask the right person.
July 27, 2009 11:55 AM
1- No where does it say that this letter is from a resident of Lakewood.
2- This can happen anywhere including Lakewood. In addition due to the closed mind of many individuals it can happen quicker in Lakewood.
3- The only way to deal with this is to go to the Police.
July 27, 2009 12:15 PM
TO THE GUY WHO SAID IT CANT HAPPEN IN LAKEWOOD .
YOU BETTER GET EDUCATED AND EDUCATED YOU KIDS BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF SICK PEOPLE IN LAKEWOOD AND THE MOLESTOR COULD BE ANYONE AND YOU CANT TRUST ANYONE AND TO TEACH YOU CHILDREN THAT NO ONE CAN TOUCH THEM.
DO YOU KNOW THAT A LOT OF SCHOOL IN LAKEWOOD HAVE WINDOWS IN THEIR DOORS TO THE CLASSROOM , DO YOU KNOW WHY , BECAUSE A REBBI SHOULDNT BE LEFT ALONE WITH KIDS AT ANY TIME , DO YOU KNOW THAT SOME SCHOOLS HAD CAMERAS IN BATHROOM HALLWAY TO ELIMENATE ANY POSSIBILITY OF ABBUSE WHY DO YOU THINK THEY DID , WELLL LET ME TELL YOU BECAUSE ITS A PROBLEM AND NO ONE IS ABOVE SUSPICION.
July 27, 2009 12:25 PM
"I don't know anyone in this town that would do anything to a little girl. Boy maybe. Not girl."
Anon 11:55 You sick sick Embarresment to judaisim do you think doing somthing to a little boy is better or o.k.? what is the matter with lakewood people?!- gosh
July 27, 2009 12:34 PM
#2 your a sick menuval
July 27, 2009 12:38 PM
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July 27, 2009 12:39 PM
'little boy maybe'!!!!! you should be arrested and kept far away from little boys , you crazy monster.
July 27, 2009 12:40 PM
shes not off the derech she says more tehilim than you i know her personaly
July 27, 2009 12:43 PM
TO THE FIRST ANON POST 11:55---
WOW WOW WOW YOU SICK MAN!!
THIS HAPPENS TO GIRLS TO BC I AM A GIRL WHO WENT THRU A SIMILIAR INCIDENT THAN THIS ONE. YOU OBVIOUSLY HAVE NEVER BEEN MOLESTED OR ABUSED AS I HEAR IT FROM YOUR NAIVENESS. YOU SICK PERSON DONT BE SO MAKPID ON LASHON HARA. IT IS NOT LASHON HARA TO LET OTHER PPL KNOW THAT SHE WAS ABUSED. WAIT UNTIL THIS HAPPENS TO SOMEONE CLOSE TO YOU OR YOUR FREIND. YOU'LL WALK AROUND BEGGING PPL TO HEAR YOU OUT AND HELP. TAKE YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE COFFEE ROOM AND STOP PICKING YOUR NOSE. LOOK AT THE SICK WORLD AROUND YOU. WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. IT IS INNOCENT PURE LIVES THAT ARE DESTROYED BC OF SOME SICK MAN WHO HAS A DISEASE IN HIS MIND. IT IS BC OF PPL LIKE YOU THAT THESE YOUNG SUFFERING CHILDREN SUFFER IN SILENCE BC THEY ARE ASHAMED TO TELL YOU BC LOOK HOW YOU ARE REACTING. I HOPE YOU READ THIS AND IF YOU HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY BACK, PLEASE FREE TO POST IT. LETS SEE WHAT BRILLIANT WORDS OF WISDOM YOU CAN COME UP FOR YOURSELF. LETS SEE HOW YOU CAN DEFEND YOURSELF AND PROVE THAT THESE THINGS DONT HAPPEN. THANK YOU FOR READING THIS.
July 27, 2009 12:51 PM
whoever thinks that things like this dont or cant happen is a piece of sh*** the person needs some serious f** help. it does and has happened to people the world over its just not public because everyone is too embarrased to talk about this type of thing. god should bless this girl and help her out
July 27, 2009 12:55 PM
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July 27, 2009 12:56 PM
#2- I do know someone in this town that has done things to little girls. Yes, even in our town these things happen. Your attitude is part of the problem.
I do not know if this girl is from lakewood. That is irrelevant. The problem exits in Lakewood as it does everywhere else.
July 27, 2009 12:56 PM
#2 wrote something just to get attention. lets all ignore him and his stupid naive remarks. HE MAKES NO SENSE!!! he wants us to get angry. don't give him that pleasure.
July 27, 2009 12:57 PM
There are sick people in all faiths. It is a sickness. He should be arrested and put into prison, Child abusers don't last long behind bars. Wasn't there an arrest 2 weeks ago with a Day Camp teacher in Lakewood. Very Sad.
July 27, 2009 12:58 PM
you should ask for the name so i can save my own kids from such sick people and i don't know if all u know 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 5 girls are molested in the world to Anon. 11:55 you sound like one of those people that should be put away u are sick and if i new who u are i would put your name all over town.
July 27, 2009 1:04 PM
Dear editor u should remove Anon 11:55 post it violates normality
July 27, 2009 1:05 PM
With all due respect, i seriously don't think this is such a good place for this discussion. I probably have reached this conclusion by reading the erudite comments published. Dear writer, you need to speak to a qualified individual who will guide you to the correct actions to take. If you are not getting the support you need from your family, than go to a Rav or a trustworthy adult friend. May all your tefilloths be answered and may you find comfort soon.
July 27, 2009 1:10 PM
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July 27, 2009 1:11 PM
Below are some links on different stuff in the jewish community in Lakewood there is a new organzation for people who where child molested called Ashrecha.
This link has story's from frum people.
July 27, 2009 1:16 PM
Perhaps her therapist suggested that hanging this dirty laundry out to dry in the Nine Days would be therepeudic.
July 27, 2009 1:21 PM
The reason that the latest Lakewood (2 weeks ago) went to the authorities, because it was someone from the ......that it happened to their child. Learn from them, go to the authorities as Rav Eliyashev, Shlita said.
July 27, 2009 1:27 PM
Anon at 11:55
Wow how sick a person can get!! Stop your "Ihr Hatorah" crap!! Our town is fortunate to be BETTER than other places because we have so many people sitting and learning but to think and SAY that this can't happen here is beyond me! There are even sickos OFFICIALLY in BMG right in the heart of your "Ihr Hatorah". I personally have met up with some of these individuals and lets just say they weren't doing the best of things to say the least. I was shocked when an individual told me that one of them is OFFICIALLY in Yeshiva. What nerve do you have to make accusations on this innocent girl?!! What in this world possesed you when you decided to label her as "off the derech"??!! How in G-D's name can you say such a thing? What in this letter made you think that?!! Oh I know,it not anything in the letter, it's just that you need to find something to discredit this girl's letter since this "does not happen in Lakewood" so that was your best route. Some nerve you got!! Oh,and btw if you're able to say that this doesn't happen in Lakewood then you obviously haven't been following the news for the past year or so. Why don't you ask Dr. Shanik if this happens in Lakewood? Are you afraid to come out of that hole of yours? This woman is begging for some sympathy and unfortonately we have sickos in town like you that think that our "Ihr Hatorah" is immune to this. Unfortonately our "Ihr Hatorah" is not what it used to be anymore and to always hide behind that term is naieve at the best and disgusting in reality. I know of a few psycho-therapists that MAY be able to help you.
To the young writer of this letter: I don't know what to say to you. Words don't suffice to ease your pain. My heart goes out to you. May Hashem give you the strength to continue to grow and rise above the test he has given you. Yes,you are different that your friends because G-D has given you a test and you have the power to rise above the challenge and move to a higher plane. I think you should go to the Police but you probably should ask a shaila first by a REPUTABLE Rov. May Hashem always be with you.
July 27, 2009 1:41 PM
to a ll those attacking my comments at 11:55. i have emunas chachomim.i was tld that we do not have such problems,and if someone says we do they have a problem.i did not say it is ok to molest little boys.just that seems to be the usual case lately.who would allow an adult to be alone in a basement with their girl who is a issur of yichud.boys need to be more careful since molesters pray upon them in private.maybe we should establish hilchos yichud to include men with boys too.but we need our gedolim to tell us this and since they havent yet i cant believe there is a problem so why post this?
July 27, 2009 1:42 PM
To anon 1:21
I would love to know your name. I think it would be better to hang you out to dry for a long time!
July 27, 2009 1:46 PM
To the author of this letter:
Please please go to the police you still can. It seems so hard but it is worth it, get the person that did these things locked up, for the sake of the people he will almost for sure hurt if he is out on the street.
July 27, 2009 2:03 PM
Anon 1:42 said
"i was tld that we do not have such problems,and if someone says we do they have a problem."
Really by which gadol and when
July 27, 2009 2:04 PM
I am the writer of this letter and I do live here in Lakewood, so yes, bad things do happen here. :-( Thank you all for your supportive and encouraging words.
The second poster (Anonymous 11:55 am) is obviously uneducated about abuse and it's his choice to bury his head in the sand.
For all others out there, I beg of you!
EDUCATE YOUR CHILDREN about good touching and bad touching, about what's acceptable and what isn't.
EDUCATE YOURSELVES about symptoms to look out for and classic abuser behaviour so you can hopefully preempt it.
DO YOUR BEST TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN.
Keep spreading awareness so we, the abused victims, don't need to feel this shame.
PS I sent this letter myself to thelakewoodscoop and it was printed in the Yated readers write last week but I want to get all the support I can get and that is why I sent it hear as well.
July 27, 2009 2:07 PM
Please go to the police! I dont blame you if you dont, but please for the sake of us who have kids get this guy off the street!
July 27, 2009 2:17 PM
B"H I have never been abused and I sure hope none of my children ever were, but, I do know that such perverts do lurk out there and prey on innocents. When I was still single (I am a grandmother now)I was alone in my friend's bungalow in the country and I was waiting for someone to come and pick up portaraits from her bungalow.She had arranged a photographer to take family portraits in the bungalow colony and parents were coming to pick them up from her. She had to be away and asked me to take care of giving out the portraits for her.A father came, and he kept coming too close to me and bumping into me. I kept moving away and he kept on doing it while I was taking care of getting his pictures for him and the payment. I was extremely uncomfortable and I am sure he did not bump into me by accident. I did not report this to anyone. I don't remember his name, but, I still remember it clearly to this day. B"H he did nothing else to me, but, it was bad enough, and I wonder who else he preyed on.
July 27, 2009 2:40 PM
To #2 on your 2nd post, there is no issur of yichud when the adults are upstairs and the child is downstairs with this piece of #$%^&. It may be true that the parents are guilty of a lack of judgment, however, that in no way excuses the molestor of his devilish actions.
Happygirl is a victim. She may have pathetic parents who did nothing about the problem. They may blame the rabbonim and everyone else and not themselves. Whether that is the case, we have a problem. Unfortunately, I think we are only scratching the surface.
July 27, 2009 2:43 PM
Anon 2:43, please do not call her parents pathetic. Maybe they do not know about it. Don't think it's so easy for a victim to tell their parents about such a thing....
July 27, 2009 3:06 PM
A victim does not necesseraly have pathetic parents. It is very hard to see the signs unless you are educated in these things (and even when you are it is very hard).
People are usally mollested by either relatives or people who the family have been close with for years and years and a child will usally feel like they did somthing wrong or that their parents will hate them if they found out.
Your best friend or brother could be mollesting your child would you blame yourself for not suspecting them even if your child wasnt acting completley ordinary?
Unless they have an education in these matters and even if they do you simply cannot blame somone for not picking up the signs in most cases,
especially in a community were untill recently it was the public opinion of many of its leaders that such a problem does not exsist.
I want to commend you for having the courage to come out in the open and discuss a topic as controversial and uncomfortable as abuse and molestation in the frum communities. Please realize that as difficult as it is for you to write about it, imagine how much more difficult it is for someone like me, for whom it is a daily reality.
what the yated published:
I want to commend you for having the courage to come out in the open and discuss a topic as controversial and uncomfortable as abuse in the frum community. Please realize that as difficult as it is for you to write about it, imagine how much more difficult it is for someone like me, for whom it is a daily reality. On a steady basis, my humanity was being violated in the most horrific ways. It's been ten years since then. ten years of therapy, depression, medication, and guilt. Ten years during which the mere mention of my abusers name set off panic attacks. Ten years of nightmares. Ten years of torture.
And the worst part, as rabbi lipshutz mentioned, is the shame and silence. My very own family members know that I have some "issues", but they think it's just me.
What they don't know is that I suffer silently. I suffer from such a complete lack of understanding from everyone around me. I believe that proper support is the first step towards healing, and therefore, I am working, together with rabbanim and therapists, to develop a network of individuals from frum homes who have been abused and can look to heal together with me.
Thank you for your courage, for your support, and for giving us this voice.
(and despite the fact that i signed it as little sheep, they chose to sign me off as "name withheld")