Friday, January 21, 2005

If you were given the opportunity to teach rabbis about sexual violence what would be the top 3 things you would want them to know?

Please take the time out and make comments on what you think is important!

9 Comments:

Blogger batdina said...

1. It is a violent crime, even though there isn't (usually) blood.
2. Only very few people lie about being sexually violated. By default, people should be assumed to be telling the truth. Do not discount a story without absolute proof that it did not happen!
3. Be aware that it takes tremendous courage to come forward. Don't say something like, "why are you telling me this?". Even if there's nothing that that particular rabbi can do to help the person, at the very least he can offer her or him a listening ear and referral to someone else who does know how to handle this issue.

January 22, 2005 5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Every rabbi and rabbinical student needs to read two books. The courage to heal and Victims No Longer. All rabbis and rabbinical students should also volunteer time at a rape crisis center. At least 100 hours of service, before ever telling a survivor they are making up a story.

2. Ask the survivor if they made a police report, and if not, offer to go with them to do so (if they were recently assaulted).

3. Ask the survivor if they are aware of rape crisis centers. Let the survivor know that rape crisis centers offer free short term counseling, and also legal advocacy.

January 22, 2005 5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. They have to take a course in how to help trauma survivors 101.
2. They have to read these two books, Trauma and Recovery by Herman and Memory and Abuse by Charles Whitfield.
3. They need to understand that spirituality and uality are very intertwined. When someone has been ualy abused they have also been spiritualy abused. The future of thier spirituality is resting on the response they get from the rabbi's they speak their truth to.

January 22, 2005 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just curious, can someone please explain how those in any kind of pastoral/clergy positions have managed to never had training/education in issues of abuse and trauma, in this day and age? Considering how many Jewish thinkers have been at the forefront of so much social change over the centuries, it seems especially shameful that Jewish/rabbinical leaders would be so late to the table on issues of abuse and trauma.

Also, just want to affirm and emphasize the comment from the poster above:

3. They need to understand that spirituality and
(sex)uality are very intertwined. When someone has been (sex)ualy abused they have also been spiritualy abused. The future of thier spirituality is resting on the response they get from the rabbi's they speak their truth to.

January 23, 2005 11:41 AM  
Blogger batdina said...

Anonymous said:
Can someone please explain how those in any kind of pastoral/clergy positions have managed to never had training/education in issues of abuse and trauma, in this day and age?

This amazes me too. When I told a friend who's conservative Jewish the response that I got from an orthodox Jewish rabbi, he said, "Why is it that orthodox is the only denomination where there is no psychological component of training for rabbis??"

To become an orthodox rabbi, all a guy (sorry, no women allowed) needs to do is hit the books real hard. And there is no central orthodox organization which monitors the standards of rabbis and can revoke a rabbi's certification in the event of a mishap.

January 23, 2005 11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Suspend your disbelief and remember that just because the perpetrator is religious and an otherwise "good" person he is in fact a person, as falliable as everyone else.

2. Sexual assault perpetrators never wear signs and are rarely lurking in the darkness but are rather usually "respected" members of a community who gain the trust of the community before perpetrating their crimes.

3. The incredible negative fallout when a victim breaks the silence makes the probability of false reporting incredibly small. There simply is no upside for the victim. Read "After Silence" by Nancy Venable Raine.

January 23, 2005 5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"3. The incredible negative fallout when a victim breaks the silence makes the probability of false reporting incredibly small. There simply is no upside for the victim."


Amen.

January 24, 2005 10:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a rabbinical student, I just wanted to thank everyone for posting advice for what they think rabbis should know about sexual violence. Your comments (and book suggestions) will help me to better be there for survivors. Thank you.

January 27, 2005 1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We agree that it is important not to speak badly of others (the principle of Lashon Hora), but we are trying to heal from a criminal invasion of our bodies and prevent more crimes from being committed against other innocent victims. Rabbis mentioning Lashon Hora to us when we are trying to disclose rape or incest makes us see these rabbis as (unintentionally) taking the side of the perpetrator against us. Sexual abuse thrives in an environment of silence and secrecy, and the principle of Lashon Hora can increase silence and secrecy when it is overused. This makes us feel unable to trust the Jewish community, and alienates us from our Jewish identities.

So please, please hold off on the "Lashon Hora" talk if abuse is being discussed. Lashon Hora is very important when it is applied correctly, but it can increase the abuse if it is overused.

And I'd want to thank any rabbis listening to this from the depths of my heart. I understand how confusing and painful this topic is. Even as a survivor, I've unintentionally silenced and minimized other survivors at times. But if we want to protect other innocents from becoming victoms, we all have to take this horrible problem seriously. So any rabbi reading this or listening to anyone explain this has my deepest gratitude.

January 27, 2005 9:52 PM  

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