Friday, October 28, 2005

Dialog: "Does God Really Care About Child Abuse Survivors?"

Below are some comments from the posting "Does God Really Care About Child Abuse Survivors?". I felt the dialog between Rabbi Mark Dratch and a survivor was important and thought it could be helpful to others.
Anonymous said...

Dear Rabbi Dratch,
Thank you for taking the time to post a response. I have such a hard time connecting to my Jewish identity. I'm so tired of everyone telling me to just move on, that what happened to me is a thing of the past. The problem is that my offender is still out there. I read the words you wrote, but I just can't connect anymore. I don't care about Jacob and his faith. I feel pretty self-centered saying this, but it's how I feel.

Where was G-d when I was being molested as a child?

Where was G-d when I felt I was so different then everyone else?

I really want someone to answer those questions for me. I'm so tired of the line that people have free will to molest their children.

At least holocaust survivors were not alone in their pain. There were others with them. Most of my childhood I wish I was dead. I knew I wasn't loved. I was just a sexual toy for my offender.

Rabbi Mark Dratch Responds
Anonymous said...

Rabbi Dratch (tries to) Respond(s)

Thanks for your response to my comments. Wishing that there was an easy answer for you is not glib, it's true...and, unfortunately, impossible.

When we are young, our parents, rabbis and teachers serve as models for us in our understanding of Judaism and our perception of God. When they fail us, as yours did, then we are robbed of many things,,, including that warm, personal, loving relationship with them and with God and Torah.

The Talmud understood this and warned people, especially those in positions of authority, to be careful how they act and treat others. (The Talmud states, Yoma 86a: Abaye explained: As it was taught: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, i.e., that the Name of Heaven be beloved because of you. if someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, and attends on the disciples of the wise, is honest in business, and speaks pleasantly to persons, what do people then say concerning him? ‘Happy the father who taught him Torah, happy the teacher who taught him Torah; woe unto people who have not studied the Torah; for this man has studied the Torah look how fine his ways are, how righteous his deeds! . Of him does Scripture say: And He said unto me: Thou art My servant, Israel, in, whom I will be glorified. But if someone studies Scripture and Mishnah, attends on the disciples of the wise, but is dishonest in business, and discourteous in his relations with people, what do people say about him? ‘ Woe unto him who studied the Torah, woe unto his father who taught him Torah; woe unto his teacher who taught him Torah!’ This man studied the Torah: Look, how corrupt are his deeds, how ugly his ways; of him Scripture says: In that men said of them,: These are the people of the Lord, and are gone forth out of His land.)

This is the sin of chillul Hashem, desecrating God's Name, for which there is no repentance. Chillul (desecration) comes from the root- ch-l-l which also means a vacuum or a void. Not only did your perpetrator desecrate God, he desecrated your soul as well. And it is very hard to recover from that.

As to why God could let this happen... I don't know. And I beleive that anyone who says that they can tell you is a charlatan. No one deserves to be treated as you were treated.

That being said-- permit me to make two comments.

1. The fact that you are blogging here on a "Jewish Survivors" website says a lot about your desire/need/hope to reconnect Jewishly and to do so in the positive ways you deserve. As hard and hollow as that may seem, and as tainted and corrupt as you may perceive Torah at the moment, I don't think we'd be having this dialogue if you really didn't care. So deep down... really deep.... perhaps you feel there is something worthwhile here. Personally, one of the resons I am so involved in combatting abuse and violence in the Jewish community and have founded JSafe is specifically because I beleive that Judaism has much to offer survivors and that we need to clean up our act as a Jewish community, hold perpetrators responsible, and create a safe and nurturing space for all our children, women and men. And because I beleive that we fail them as well as God and Torah when we allow (through our inaction and our mistaken policies and ideas) Judaism to be misrepresented and corrupted and Jews to be harmed in the process.

And 2. The perpetrator stole your innocence, your sense of safety, your childhood, your spirit and much more. DO NOT LET HIM STEAL YOUR LIFE! I know, again, easier said than done. But if we have only this one life to lead, we can't let others destroy it for us. And if we have obstacles to overcome, and some of us have larger obstacles than others, then let's figure out how to do it. Therapy, support groups, political and communal activism... there are many ways. DON'T LET THE PERPETRATOR STEAL YOUR DREAMS. IT IS N E V E R TOO LATE. And I beieve that God can be a part of that. Take God to task for not being there for you. Yell and scream at Him. Work through your issues with God as you would someone else. Perhaps you'll come to some kind of understanding or truce. Perhaps a lot more. Perhaps a lot less. But you will be better off for the experience.

If you couldn't believe in God again because of your experiences, I would understand and I would respect you. I would also cry. I would also think that you are missing out on a significant part of life and the world that you deserve to know and experience.

Corresponding through blogs is so difficult and artificial. But let's continue our dialogue.


Post a Comment

<< Home