Monday, January 31, 2005

Pregnancy From Rabbinical Sexual Misconduct? A topic we need to discuss

A friend sent me information about someone who was doing research on priests who fathered children.

My friend sent me the following note along with the message:

I was curious how many children there are who's father might be a rabbi, and their birth was a result of the mother being sexually assaulted?

I was also curious how many survivors of rabbinical sexual misconduct were pressured into putting their child up for adoption or having an abortion?

I think someone needs to start a study on this topic. The only way things will change is by public awareness.

The News Media's Coverage of Crime and Victimization

Interesting information. Just click the title and follow the link.

It can even happen to the daughters of Kings...

It can even happen to the daughters of Kings...
(© 2004) San

(See: Sanhedrin 21a for source material)

When considering the approach we take today within the Jewish community in dealing with sexual offences and how totally ineffective it truly is. I also considered whether the approach prevalent is outside our very traditions. The following are some very brief and hastily written thoughts on the subject meant more to stimulate discussion than to be definitive statements.

We spend so much time and effort dealing with things quietly to protect the reputations of the abusers and their families that we've lost sight of the very wickedness of the crime and our responsibilities in taking action and speaking out.

Has it always been this way? The answer is no. There was a time when we had leadership, a Sanhedrin, a Kingship, Judges, Prophets and even at times a direct relationship with God when we had the Temple. What did this leadership do when a prominent member of the community sexually abused? Did they speak of the lack of witnesses and the need for proof? Did they speak about all the good the abuser did during their life? Did they speak of the need to protect the abusers' family from the shame of their child's wickedness? Were things dealt with quietly? Was the abuser quietly moved to another city to start again with a clean slate? Was Shmirat Ha'Lashon put above the protection of others? Did we ask after each crime whether it was a mere single incident?

I believe the answer to all of the questions above is simple: NO.

One of the earliest recorded cases of rape within the Jewish community is that of the rape of Tamar the daughter of King David by her half-brother Amnon. Was the incident involving one of the most prominent families in the Jewish community (at both that specific time and all time as well) hushed-up? No.

Tamar took ashes and put them on her head and tore the garment of fine wool that she wore. She did this publicly. The King's daughter publicized her rape. Why? According to R'Yehoshua ben Korchah, by publicizing what had happened to her she raised a great barrier at that time to prevent further assaults of this nature. It was said if such a horrible thing could happen to the daughters of Kings, certainly it could happen to any regular girl. If such a thing could happen to a modest girl like Tamar, it could happen to immodest girls as well.

This public act by Tamar raised the awareness of sexual assault to the general community and this awareness helped protect other women. Did the reaction end there?

No. The Rabbinical community took action as well. They instituted a Rabbinical decree at the time prohibiting certain seclusions to further protect women.

So, I ask the question, why don't our leaders act similarly? I understand we don't have a Sanhedrin, a Kingship, Judges or Prophets. How more we have the need today for both leadership and actions by our leaders.

How many will suffer before our leaders act? How prominent must the victim be and how publicly must they humiliate themselves before we are finally moved to act decisively?

Cyberstalking – Is it Covered by Current Anti-Stalking Laws?


With the number of people who have access to computers and the Internet[1] continually growing, there has been an explosion in the use of the Internet for the transfer of information and communication between users. However, the growth of the Internet has also increased the resources available to criminals for illegal or bad purposes. Stalking is one crime which criminals have been able to use the Internet to assist them in carrying out their activities. Stalking is generally defined as unwanted contact or course of conduct that places a person in fear of their safety. The Internet provides a powerful tool for the stalker. He may use E-mail, chat-rooms, or electronic bulletin boards to carry out his stalking activities. This method of communication is often preferred because the Internet provides the stalker anonymous contact with his victim. Furthermore, because the Internet is not heavily regulated, the stalker has a good chance of not being punished for his actions.[2]

This paper will review the current anti-stalking statutes and examine how they apply to stalking on the Internet, discuss possible problems with the anti-stalking statutes, and examine the problems associated with enforcement of the current anti-stalking statutes against cyberstalkers.

Anti-Stalking Laws

According to the anti-stalking laws, a person can be charged with stalking for willfully and repeatedly contacting another individual, without permission. Under these laws, assailants could be charged with stalking for repeatedly:

* Following or appearing within the sight of another. A restraining order is especially helpful with this one. For instance, if someone is legally parked in front of your house, law enforcement might be able to ask them to move on or in extreme cases get them for loitering and prowling. BUT, with a restraining order in place - BOOM - now it's a violation of the court order - making arrest much more probable and penalties much stiffer.
* Approaching or confronting another individual in a public or private place.
* Appearing at the work place or residence of another. Again, a restraining order will help with this one. Your boss or anyone in a position of authority can authorize law enforcement to issue a trespass warning against your stalker - meaning that if they show up again, they will be arrested for trespassing - whether you are there or not.
* Entering or remaining on an individual's property.
* Contacting by telephone.
* Sending mail or electronic mail.
* Getting other people to harass on their behalf. This is where your log or journal will come in handy. Make sure you're documenting who is harassing, when, how, etc.
* Leaving notes on cars, in mailboxes. By the way, did you know that it can be a violation of Federal law for a private individual to put items in a mailbox? If a stalker is making use or your mailbox or you supect that your mail is being opened or stolen, contact the Office of the Postmaster General near you.

Legal Information on Stalking in Maryland

Stalking: Created the crime of stalking with a penalty of five years which may be imposed consecutive or concurrent to the individual acts amounting to the crime of stalking; Allows a police officer to make a warrantless arrest for probable cause. (MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL LAW ART. §§ 3-802; MD. CODE ANN., CRIMINAL PROCEDURE ART. §§ 2-205, 5-201) (Chapter 205 & 206, HB 433/SB 7)

Stalking - Protective and Peace Orders in Maryland

Protective and Peace Orders
(CC-DC/DV PO1 br 7-03)

How to obtain relief from abusive individuals

Peace and protective orders are civil orders issued by a judge to prevent one person from committing certain acts against others.

Note: Peace and protective orders are civil orders; under certain circumstances you also may file criminal charges. If you wish to file criminal charges, call the police or contact a District Court commissioner.

What do you have to prove?
Once you determine the type of order for which you may qualify, you then must
prove that one of the following acts occurred:

For a peace order:
- an act that caused serious bodily harm
- an act that placed the petitioner in fear of imminent bodily harm
- assault in any degree
- rape or sexual offense
- attempted rape or sexual offense
- false imprisonment
- criminal harassment *
- criminal stalking *
- criminal trespassing *
- malicious destruction of property*
* these acts apply only to a peace order.

For a protective order:
- an act that caused serious bodily harm
- an act that placed the petitioner in fear of imminent bodily harm
- assault in any degree
- rape or sexual offense
- attempted rape or sexual offense
- false imprisonment

Sunday, January 30, 2005

When Sex Offenders Stalk You On Line

It's time to talk about the problem of being stalked on line by someone who has sexually assaulted you.

It's time to talk about the problem of those who support sex offenders harassing survivors on line.

What can and should we do about it?

Where's A Safe Place To Raise My Children?

I know this is an odd question, but which is the safest place to raise Jewish children?

I was looking over the list of alleged and convicted sex offenders on The Awareness Center's site, and I was trying to figure out where was safe to raise children?

It doesn't appear that any Jewish community has handled cases of sexual violence appropriately. It seems like communities are more concerned about their reputations then they are about protecting our children and young adults. It seems that alleged and convicted offenders have more rights then those who have been victimized.

So please help me out here, where's a safe place for me to raise my children?

Friday, January 28, 2005

Shouldering the Burden of Incest

First Person
Shouldering the Burden of Incest
by Anonymous
The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles - 01/28/2005

When you go to the synagogue, you just might be sitting next to someone who sexually abused his daughter. You might be shaking his hand, admiring his charming demeanor, thinking how lucky his family is to have him. I should know. People sit next to my father all the time. Not only that, but they make sure to tell me about it.

Take a recent scenario at my local congregation: Two seconds after I walked through the door, a friendly acquaintance informed me that my father had visited there just a few weeks back. Good thing I didn’t go that day, I thought to myself. She continued to describe to me how vibrant he had looked, “as always,” and how lovely it had been to see him. The woman’s intention, of course, was to compliment me by showering praise on my father. Instead, she left me clutching tightly inside myself and forgetting to breathe.

“That’s nice,” I replied. “I haven’t seen him in 14 years.”

The woman stammered around a bit, apologized, and concluded with, “But I’m sure you’ll be glad to know he’s doing well.”

Well, actually, that depends on the day.

About 15 minutes later, another woman informed me (just in case I hadn’t heard yet) that my father had visited the congregation a few weeks earlier. She knows these things, she continued, because she is a close friend of his second ex-wife.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I interrupted her.

“Oh, well I’m not talking about it, I was just saying that he visited here, and I’m good friends with...”
“I don’t want to talk about it,” I repeated, putting my hand up in a stop motion.

“Well, I was just saying that I’m friends with them...”

“I don’t want to talk about it,” I said a third time, adding a “no” head shake for emphasis.

She stopped, then could not think of anything else to say.

“How’s your son doing? Is he here?” I offered, hoping to move the conversation in a more pleasant direction.

“Yes he is,” she replied, “and in fact, I’m taking these cookies over to him.”

She bid me Shabbat Shalom and left. The woman could not get away from me fast enough.

Considering how common incest is, not to mention the preponderance of other forms of domestic violence — I do not cease to be amazed by people’s insensitivity regarding my father. Short of answering, “My father sexually abused me, and discussing him is retraumatizing me,” I have tried every possible approach in getting people to shut up. Not only have they not respected my clear boundaries, but they have gone so far as to make assumptions about what must have happened with my father. A favored scenario has been that he and I had a squabble, and I am too stubborn to forgive him.

One man, who had this notion in his head, repeatedly brought me fliers announcing my father’s latest presentations. He and another man made statements like, “We have to figure out a way to get you and your father back together.”

Even after I hinted, “You really have no clue what goes on behind closed doors,” one of them persisted in his self-appointed mission to save my family.

These interactions have left me profoundly shaken up — physically, as well as emotionally — and have eaten up days and days of my time, dedicated to recovering from each incident. They have caused me to avoid Mizrahi and Sephardi communities; to leave a community organization I cofounded; and to stop attending synagogue services. Given my resulting isolation from Jewish community life, I even stopped observing Shabbat and the holidays; they became too lonely and depressing.

For philosophical, moral and emotional reasons, I refuse to plaster a big fake smile on my face and let people ramble on glowingly about a man who made my childhood miserable. Every time someone starts in on it with me, I feel an overwhelming urge to scream out the truth.

I have no interest in publicly shaming my father. I have silenced my own voice for two-thirds of my life, in fact, in an effort to protect him. In addition, it feels risky to “come out” about my experience. I do not want people pathologizing or pitying me.

And yet, I am tired of holding this burden, and I know there are many like me out there. So I offer my story in an effort to wake up the Jewish community, to let people know that the abuse is happening all around us, that we are not immune to violence. Our friends, colleagues, teachers and rabbis are among both the perpetrators and survivors. Abuse does not happen to “them.”

When we recognize this reality — when we speak and listen in ways that allow for the possibility that people are survivors or current victims, and when we hold perpetrators accountable for their actions, yet approach them with compassion, we will all shoulder the burden of violence together. As such, our community will take one giant step toward healing.

The writer is an author and journalist who lives in Israel and the Bay Area. The Journalist requested we withhold her byline for legal purposes.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Harassment, Stalking and Other Methods Used By Offenders

If you have ever been in a support group for survivors of sexual violence, you will hear story after story of how offenders attempt to silence their victims. You will hear story after story of how offenders harass and stalk their prey.

One survivor asked me to share her story:

Immediately after Chaya was raped she went to an emergency room. Evidence was collected. The man admitted to having sexual relations with her to the police, but said it was consensual. The woman had bruises on her face, but since there were no witnesses, the case turned into a he said, she said situation.

The problem was that the man that raped Chaya was someone she knew. After assaulting he kept calling her on the phone asking her to marry him.

When it came time to go to court the charges were reduced to harassing phone calls (after the assault). The man got a year of supervision. On the first anniversary of the assault after his supervision was over, the offender started calling Chaya again. Begging her to see him, to date him and marry him.

Chaya fought back the best she could. She saved the messages on her phone that he would leave and went back to court. The man was also stalking her. Where ever Chaya went, he was there. He was convicted of stalking. While the man was in jail, the woman moved far away.

So what happens to survivors of sexual violence who don't use law enforcement and rely on their rabbis to take care of things? How do they get away from their offenders who are harassing them? Stalking them?

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

To be frum, or Not to be frum --- That is the question?

You grew up orthodox, you were molested or sexually assaulted by someone who was frum, how do you integrate that into your life. You start looking else where.

You are an incest survivor, grew up in the non-orthodox world, you start looking into your own spirituality and are becoming more observant -- but your confused. Are you safe in the Orthodox world?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Consciousness Raising Groups

How is it that each of us can get our communities to start talking about sexual violence?

How about inviting a few friends to your home for coffee? While everyone is socializing start a discussion of various forms of violence, and slowly start talking about sexual violence? You don't have to talk about your own abuse. Just start introducing the topic in general terms.

Perhaps you can do this once a month to get your friends thinking about it, if they haven't already. You can use this blog for topics you can discuss.

Perhaps as time goes on the friends that come over for these discussions can start working on having a workshop at your synagogue. Remember a small group of people can make a difference. Two voices are louder then one. If you can get 5 - 10 people requesting a workshop on sexual violence, there is a higher likelihood it will happen.

Suing Your Offender -- Should You Do It?

Many survivors of childhood sexual abuse and of sexual assault as an adult have so many issues to deal with. All the legal issues can be so confusing. How do you figuring out if you want to attempt to have criminal charges brought up against your offender? How do you know if you want to start a civil suit? How do you find an attorney?

If you click on the title of this entry it will bring you to the following site:

Civil Remedies for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Sunday, January 23, 2005

If you are a rabbi, what words of wisdom would you want to give to survivors of sexual violence?

Survivors have such a difficult time finding a rabbi who will listen to them, and take the time to understand what a survivor of sexual violence is going through. If you are a rabbi and read this blog, please let us know you are out there. Let us know what you are thinking!

If you are a survivor of rape, incest or any other form of sexual violence -- Were you able to find help in the Jewish Community?

So many survivors I know have difficulties finding the help they need. Often they end up going to Christian based self-help groups, or to therapists who aren't even Jewish.

I'm curious if others have had this same experience, or if you were able to find help in Jewish communities?

If you were able to help you needed, where did you find it?

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!

The Day The Torah Was Molested - By Naomi

The Day The Torah Was Molested
© (2004) By Naomi

She stands in shul shabbos
After years of absence
Facing the open ark
Doors spread wide
Like angels wings

The people and the room
Slowly disappear
All that remain are the ark and the voices.
The ark and praying voices.

Suddenly She is a little
Standing in her grandfather’s yeshiva
Watching from the doorway of the women’s section
because she isn’t allowed in

The people in the yeshiva slowly disappear
All that remain are the ark and voices
The ark and screaming voices

The Torah watches in horror
The Torah hears in sorrow
the little s silent cries
As her grandfather takes her into
The bathroom and undresses.
As The bochorim (students)
Sneak her upstairs
And tear her soul to pieces
The Torah sees it all

Then the yeshiva is abandoned
Nothing remains but a mound of crushed wood
And piles of torn holy books
cascading down broken stairs
The Torah is shipped away
Her memories buried in its parchment

This week in the synagogue
Miles and years away
She sees the Torah again and Remembers
What it witnessed
She is so very angry
So badly hurt
I thought you were protective of your people
Why did you stand by silently
And watch what was done to me

I’ve been waiting for you,
The Torah answers
It was I
The same Torah who lives in this synagogue today
I was there in that Yeshiva
From the time you were born
and I saw it all.
As I am Truth
I swear you will not be forgotten
Wrap yourself in me and I’ll hold you

Ways of Pleasantness - Case of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni (aka: Marc Gafni, Mark Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz)

A must read article:

Ways of Pleasantness
By Sherri Makover-Balikov
Photography By : Arik Soltan
Maariv / Sofshavua (Friday Weekend Magazine) - October 15, 2004
(click on the title of this entry and it will take you to the article)

"I touched. So what"

Rabbi Mordechai Gafni, the one who smiles at you from the television, loves the sheep of his flock. So why is he associated with sexual harrasment?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Aaron Thomas remains excommunicated

His crime?

He got permission from a beis din to take the person who allegedly sexually abused his son to a civil court.


Is there a similarity between banning a book and excommunicating a Jewish survivor of childhood sexual abuse from a community?

I just read the following article that was just published in this weeks Forward and was reminded of the poem that batdina wrote about a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her poem is provided after the article.

Orthodox Rabbis Launch Book Ban
By Steven I. Weiss
January 21, 2005

Dozens of prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis are backing an international effort to ban a fellow rabbi's books, arguing that the works are heretical because they suggest the earth is much older than a literal reading of Genesis would suggest.

The target of the campaign is Rabbi Nosson Slifkin, an ultra-Orthodox author known as the "Zoo Rabbi," best known for his books and tours relating to his research on animals in the Bible. He also has written on wider questions regarding science and the Torah. In particular, Slifkin's critics object to his assertions that "the Sages were mistaken in certain scientific matters" and "that the world is millions of years old." According to a literal reading of the Bible, Slifkin's critics argue, the world was created in six days and is only 5,765 years old.

The push to blacklist Slifkin's books is the broadest and most coordinated example of what have been the increasingly frequent efforts by ultra-Orthodox rabbis to ban books that they find objectionable.

Slifkin's articles have been pulled from the Web site of Aish HaTorah, a Jerusalem-based ultra-Orthodox outreach organization with dozens of branches across the globe.

The outreach organization appears to be reconsidering its position on the age of the universe. An essay by physicist Gerald Schroeder, titled "The Age of the Universe," also has been removed from the Aish HaTorah Web site. It was replaced with a note stating: "This article is currently under review, in consultation with today's leading Torah scholars." Schroeder, author of the book "Genesis and the Big Bang Theory," argues that Albert Einstein's Theory of Relativity can be used to reconcile seeming contradictions between the Bible and conventional scientific theories regarding the age of the universe.
Among the targets of other recent high-profile ultra-Orthodox campaigns were "One People, Two Worlds" — a 2002 disputate pitting an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, Yosef Reinman, against a Reform rabbi, Ammiel Hirsch — and "The Making of a Godol" (Mesorah, 2003), by Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis objected to the Hirsch-Reinman book on the grounds that it provided a platform for a Reform rabbi to outline his theological views; as for Kamenetsky's book, a biography of his late father, the revered Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky, critics argued that it included unflattering biographical details that should not be shared with the public.

The list of rabbis who have signed on to the Slifkin ban — publicized most prominently in a letter that appeared in the January 7 edition of the ultra-Orthodox daily Yated Ne'eman — is a partial "Who's Who" of ultra-Orthodox leadership, including Rabbi Mattisyahu Salomon of the highly respected yeshiva Beth Medrash Govoha in Lakewood, N.J., and Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv, the Israeli-based sage who is seen by much of the Ashkenazic Orthodox world as the final authority on rabbinic law. The ban was in large part the product of protests from lay people, who circulated excerpts of Slifkin's work across the world and brought the offending passages to the attention of their rabbis.

Slifkin's works were dropped by his orginal distributor, Feldheim Publishers, but picked up by a new company, Yashar Books. He plans to remove the eight rabbinic endorsements that have appeared in his books.

For his part, Slifkin says that his work is not heretical, and is actually comparable to the works of many traditional Jewish scholars, including Maimonides and Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch. While Slifkin would not comment for this article, he has used his Web site ( to document allegations and present his responses.

"If I am a heretic, Heaven forbid, then I take my place among the thousands of other such 'heretics' in the Torah community," Slifkin wrote on his site. "They are the vast majority of those who toil in the physical and biological sciences as God-fearing Jews, of outreach workers, of those who for various reasons have encountered parts of secular culture, and all of whom have used the sources and the approach of my books for many decades, if not for hundreds of years."

Several Modern Orthodox rabbis are defending Slifkin.

In an interview with the Forward, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, said that he had reviewed some of Slifkin's work last weekend, after hearing of the ban; from what he read, he said, Slifkin appears to have "impeccable traditional Jewish sources to back up his views on these things."

Weinreb said that while his organization has "no position" on the age of the universe, it maintains that "a person is entitled to draw from traditional Jewish literature, even minority opinion." He added, "We're certainly allied with that point of view that science and Orthodox Judaism complement each other and are harmonious."

Rabbi Yosef Blau, a top Talmud instructor and religious adviser to students at Yeshiva University, also defended Slifkin. In a letter being circulated on the Internet, Blau argued: "Rabbi Slifkin's basic approach of integrating the insights of modern science into our understanding of Torah is consistent with the approach of many [Torah scholars] throughout the generations." Blau also criticized the decision of rabbinic authorities to act without having met with Slifkin.

Schroeder, who wrote the article being reviewed by Aish HaTorah, said he did not know that his writings were being used on the organization's Web site and that he was surprised they would have been removed.

"Just yesterday, I gave four hours of classes on the age of the universe, in Discovery," he said, referring to the organization's in-depth seminar program. Of the site's notice that the article was "under review, in consultation with today's leading Torah scholars," Schroeder asked, "Why would a Torah scholar know relativity, unless he's studied relativity?"

The Day G-d was Excommunicated
by Batdina

I heard a voice coming from the fields
beyond the synagogues and the black-hatted masses
beyond the halls of study and the ritual baths
beyond the chambers of rabbi's courts.
I followed the voice and found a spirit wandering in the wind.
I asked her why she wanders so. She replied:
I have been banished from the family of my youth
Cast away from the people to whom I belong.
Why is that so? I asked,
For I knew of her family and their people,
I knew of the deeds of kindness they had done
I knew of the outstretched arms they offer to lost cousins.
Her voice came to me,
Plaintive as the wind whispering in the reeds
She said: I opened my mouth and told the truth.
That is my sin. This is my punishment.
What is your truth? I asked.
She said: I was but a child at the time,
I was violated in unspeakable ways by my very own father.
My mother did nothing to protect me. My siblings stood by silently.
I, too, kept quiet for many years, hoping to bury the pain.
But the day came when the truth burst out from my heart
In a river of tears, in a sea of pain
In an ocean of grief and self hatred.
I went to those whom I trusted, but they did not believe me.
They told me I was mistaken, that it did not happen.
But I cannot deny the truth that lies in my heart
I refuse to betray the child within me by denying her pain.
I told the truth.
It is ugly and hideous, but it is the truth nonetheless
and I will not be silent to protect the honor
of he who does not deserve to be protected.
I have been ex-communicated because I have spoken the truth.
So, I shall wander here, in these fields of barley
Until the day when the piercing blast of a ram's horn rips away the layers of denial and lies
and the truth is known to all.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Those who stand with the victim will inevitable face the perpetrators unmasked fury - Judith Herman

Can anyone relate to this quote?

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Is there a difference between PTSD and Psychosis?

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault as an adult. People who experience PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life.


Psychosis is a psychiatric classification for a mental state in which the perception of reality is distorted. Persons experiencing a psychotic episode may experience hallucinations (often auditory or visual hallucinations), hold paranoid or delusional beliefs, experience personality changes and exhibit disorganized thinking (see thought disorder). This is sometimes accompanied by features such as a lack of insight into the unusual or bizarre nature of their behavior, difficulties with social interaction and impairments in carrying out the activities of daily living.

Monday, January 17, 2005

The Day G-d was Excommunicated - By Batdina

The Day G-d was Excommunicated
© (2005) by Batdina

I heard a voice coming from the fields
beyond the synagogues and the black-hatted masses
beyond the halls of study and the ritual baths
beyond the chambers of rabbi's courts.
I followed the voice and found a spirit wandering in the wind.
I asked her why she wanders so. She replied:
I have been banished from the family of my youth
Cast away from the people to whom I belong.
Why is that so? I asked,
For I knew of her family and their people,
I knew of the deeds of kindness they had done
I knew of the outstretched arms they offer to lost cousins.
Her voice came to me,
Plaintive as the wind whispering in the reeds
She said: I opened my mouth and told the truth.
That is my sin. This is my punishment.
What is your truth? I asked.
She said: I was but a child at the time,
I was violated in unspeakable ways by my very own father.
My mother did nothing to protect me. My siblings stood by silently.
I, too, kept quiet for many years, hoping to bury the pain.
But the day came when the truth burst out from my heart
In a river of tears, in a sea of pain
In an ocean of grief and self hatred.
I went to those whom I trusted, but they did not believe me.
They told me I was mistaken, that it did not happen.
But I cannot deny the truth that lies in my heart
I refuse to betray the child within me by denying her pain.
I told the truth.
It is ugly and hideous, but it is the truth nonetheless
and I will not be silent to protect the honor
of he who does not deserve to be protected.
I have been ex-communicated because I have spoken the truth.
So, I shall wander here, in these fields of barley
Until the day when the piercing blast of a ram's horn rips away the layers of denial and lies
and the truth is known to all.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

What Would Be True Justice?

If you were sexually violated, or your child was sexually violated, what would you want to happen to your offender?

If your community acted inappropriate when allegations were made against your offender, what should be done to correct the problems?

Please take time out and list what you would want the world to know and or think about relating to your offender. . .

Hold on to your outrage

Thank you to the survivor who wrote the following. . .

Hold on to your outrage; try not to let it overwhelm you, but let it be a tool in further healing and helping you be able to get your story out there somehow.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Having A Voice and Being Allowed to Have Choice!

A few vitally important things for someone who has been sexually victimized is to have someone hear what they are saying, and to be believed!

Survivors of sexual violence need to have the right to decide for themselves what they do. It needs to be up to the survivor if and when they tell someone they have been abused/assaulted. It has to be up to the survivor without the influence of family and friends, if and when they go public with their stories. If it's not their choice the survivor will often feel revictimized.

But it's important for survivors to know all the facts about how and when to be public. Once you are public, you can't go back.

Click on the title of this entry and it will take you to a site that will discuss things to think about before you go public.

If you have other suggestions let's talk about them.

What Do You Want Family Members and Friends To Do?

You were sexually abused, assaulted or manipuated into having sexual relations with someone. You are afriad to tell anyone something is wrong. Your family and friends suspect something is up, but are afraid to say anything to you. If your family suspected something was wrong, what would you want them to do?

If you were manipulated into having sexual relations with someone you trusted and respected, what would you do?

All too often young adult men and women are seduced by individuals who are older then them with whom they respected. Some times it's a college professor, a teacher at a yeshiva, a rabbi or even their boss.

1. Here's some question to think about and to answer . . .

2. If this happened to you, who would you to for help?

3. Would you tell a friend? Your parents? A brother or a sister?

4. How would you know who to tell? How would you know that person wouldn't make fun of you? or criticize you?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Harassment, Extortion and other Lovely Forms of Silencing Survivors

It's unbelievable what someone who has been sexually victimized has to put up with in our society (Not just the Jewish world). What do you do if your offender has clout? What do you do if your offender is a highly respected citizen? What do you do if your offender is a rabbi? Who will listen to you? I'm hoping that individuals will share their experiences with what happened when they sought help and or tried to help a survivor.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

The Aftermath of Sexual Assault: Am I Supposed to Feel This Way?

Whether you're a man or a woman, sexual assault is a trauma. The trauma of sexual assault involves losing control of your own body and possibly fearing death or injury. There are certain ways that human beings react to trauma that are the same for men and women. "Rape trauma syndrome" is a term that mental health professionals use to describe the common reactions that occur for both men and women after sexual assault. "Rape trauma syndrome" is not an illness or abnormal reaction -- it is a normal reaction to an abnormal, traumatic event.

Below is a checklist of common reactions to sexual assault. Though each person and situation is unique, this checklist will help you to know the range of reactions that are normal to expect. Of course, there are also ways that men are affected differently than women by sexual assault. Following the list of universal reactions to sexual assault, we'll delve into some of the reactions to sexual assault that are more unique to men.

Checklist of Universal Reactions to Sexual Assault

* Emotional Shock: I feel numb. How can I be so calm? Why can't I cry?

* Disbelief and/or Denial: Did it really happen? Why me? Maybe I just imagined it. It wasn't really rape.
* Embarrassment: What will people think? I can't tell my family or friends.

* Shame: I feel completely filthy, like there's something wrong with me. I can't get clean.

* Guilt: I feel as if it's my fault, or I should've been able to stop it. If only I had...

* Depression: How am I gonna get through the semester? I'm so tired! I feel so hopeless. Maybe I'd be better off dead

* Powerlessness: Will I ever feel in control again?

* Disorientation: I don't even know what day it is, or what class I'm supposed to be in. I keep forgetting things.

* Flashbacks: I'm still re-living the assault! I keep seeing that face and feeling like it's happening all over again.

* Fear: I'm scared of everything. What if I have herpes or AIDS? I can't sleep because I'll have nightmares. I'm afraid to go out. I'm afraid to be alone.

* Anxiety: I'm having panic attacks. I can't breathe! I can't stop shaking. I feel overwhelmed.

* Anger: I feel like killing the person who attacked me!

* Physical Stress: My stomach (or head or back) aches all the time. I feel jittery and don't feel like eating.

Empowering Survivors - The Importance of Networking

Years ago I was a volunteer speaker at a self-help network that was developed by Vicki Polin. The network was open to survivors of childhood trauma. This was before the days of the internet. I saved an old flyer for the group and thought there was some insight that might still be helpful to survivors today.


(© 1996) Vicki Polin, M.A., A.T.R., L.C.P.C.
After several requests the networking group has been expanded to include adult survivors of childhood trauma (emotional, psychological, physical and sexual abuse). The NETWORK offers survivors a place to share ideas, connect with others and learn new skills. There is no fee for this group, but a donation is requested. The group meets every Sundays and is open to both men and women.

The Networking Group began January, 1996 and continues to grow. Each week the focus has been different. So far we have experimented with the art making process and had many discussions on issues relating to the healing process. One week there was a discussion on the words used describing and defining the healing process. Another discussion was on what is normal. It's important to remember the word normal is relative. Normal - is what an individual, family, group, society is used to. What is normal to some people may not be normal to others. When it comes to the healing process the same is true. There is no right or wrong way to heal. Each individual must take their own personal journey.

When the networking group was describing the words used in the healing process everyone agreed that the word "victim" referred to an individual who was victimized. The victimization could be witnessing and/or experiencing a trauma (i.e. emotionally, psychologically, physically, and/or sexually).

But what happens when the traumatic event(s) is over? Often the trauma changes the way an individual sees and/or experiences the world. Everyone agreed that sometimes a victim stays in the victim role because of perpetuating circumstances. There was a debate about how a victim can move into the survivor role. Does a person become a survivor as soon as the victimization ends (i.e. the offender stops)? Does the role change after the individual begins to make some sort of transformation in the healing process? or does the victim role change after the survivor becomes someone who has emerged victorious? This debate continues.

Then the question was raised: Once the individual reaches the survivor role is that it? Can you ever get past the survivor role? Someone suggested the term "Thriver", but that didn't feel right to group. "Who wants to be thriving on victimization. Then another participant shared his views;

Growing up being victimized is like growing up in a war zone. Once you are able to recover to the point of a survivor and can grow past it, you can become a veteran, just as individuals in the armed forces.

After the group I looked up the terms discussed in the group in the American Heritage Dictionary to see how our definitions compared to the dictionary. This is what I found.

vic-tim. someone who is harmed or killed by another. One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition. A person who is tricked, swindled or taken advantage of.

sur-vivor. To live longer than; outlive; to live or persist through.

vet-er-an. One who has a long record of service in a given activity or capacity.

Another week participants talked about some of the struggles they have with their own personal healing process, and their wish to be rescued by someone (i.e. friend, partner, therapist), especially when they are having a difficult time. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and desperation were shared; along with coping strategies. For some it was difficult to understand why it's not in their best interest to always be rescued. Then the following story was shared:

A man came home one day and discovered a moth cocoon near his door. He became curious and wanted to watch the moth emerge, so he took it inside and put it in a warm place. Soon the moth began to break through the top of the cocoon. It made a small hole in the top of the cocoon and then seemed to be unable to free itself further. As the man watched, he became impatient and worried because the moth seemed to be making no progress in breaking free. In an effort to be helpful, the man cut a larger hole in the top of the cocoon.

To the man's dismay, the moth emerged with a large, bloated body and small, withered wings. It couldn't fly and had great difficulty managing its unwieldy body. In his efforts to make it easier for the moth, the man hadn't realized the central role that a seemingly insurmountable effort played in the emergence of a healthy, viable adult moth. He didn't know that it was essential for the moth to struggle through the small hole at the top of the cocoon: it was the process of squeezing through the hole that forced the liquid in the moth's body out into its wings. Under normal circumstances, by the time an adult moth has struggled through the small hole in the top of the cocoon, its body is smaller and its wings are large enough to support it. Effort and struggle comprise the key to healthy development for the adult moth. (Getting Through The Day: Strategies for Adults Hurt As Children, Nancy J. Napier).

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Prevention Is The Key . . . Learning to Listen to Our Children

It's not uncommon to teach our children that if they have problems, that they can always go to their rabbis for help. The problem is that there are a few individuals who become rabbis who have sexually abused or assaulted our children.

We need to come up with a plan in how to address these issues. We need to stop believing it is taboo to discuss these issues.

We need to address ways we can safely teach our children what to do if they feel violated.

We need to teach our children to keep telling adults they know if something has happened, especially if the first adult doesn't listen or believe them.

If your child came to you and told you they were touched inappropriately, would you believe them? What if the person your child is accusing of sexual misconduct is someone you highly respect?

What is an Incest Survivors First Concept of God?

Where does one get their first concept of God?

Where do you learn to have a positive feeling towards a higher power?

If a child's parents are their first representation of what God is --

How are incest survivors supposed to have a positive concept and or relationship with a higher power?

How does an incest survivor relearn that God is more then an entity that wants to have sexual relations with them?

An Incest Survivors Guide to Understanding The Concept of Love

Many incest survivors have difficulties understanding the concept of love. Often survivors get confused between sexuality and love. Unfortunately this can lead to a survivor believing that the only way to show someone that you love them is by having sexual relations. My question for everyone is to find a way to help explain to survivors the differences. How would you do that?

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Survivors who get involved with Pornography and/or Prostitution as Adults

It's not uncommon for individuals who were sexually abused as children to allow themselves to be used in prostitution or pornography.

1. Sometimes survivors allow themselves to be used as a way of recreating their victimization.

2. Sometimes they do it to feel a sense of control over their bodies.

3. Sometimes survivors may go through a period of time that they are promiscuous and end up feeling like they were prostitutes.

These are difficult issues to be addressed especially in Jewish communities, but it is important that we do discuss them. Survivors who come from observant families are just as likely to have to face these issues as those from unaffiliated backgrounds. The only way we will be able to help our children or our neighbors children is to break the taboos and talk about the reality of what's happening.

Please use this blog to speak your mind on the topic.

Dating, Marriage and Being a Survivor of Sexual Violence (incest, childhood sexual abuse, sexual assault as an adult)

Below are many issues no one wants to talk about when it comes to surviving sexual violence. I thought this might be a good place to do so.

1. You're an incest survivor and your dating, when do you tell the man or woman you are dating that you are a survivor? Do you ever have to tell?

2. You were sexually violated by either a family member or someone not Jewish. Can you marry a Kohen?

3. You are married or having a relationship with someone, and are being sexually active with them. You start to have flashbacks. What do you do?

The Role of Rabbis in Helping Survivors Heal

I've been asked the following questions by survivors who are not from a religious background. My hope is that someone out there will help me answer these questions.

1. Why would survivors of abuse need a rabbi?
2. If you find one, what do you do with them?
3. What exactly do rabbis do?
4. How do you find a "safe" rabbi?

Finding Help - Either a Therapist or a Rabbi

I heard Vicki Polin speaking at a conference some time ago on the topic of "how to find a good therapist." I remember her saying finding a therapist is like trying to buy a pair of shoes.

"You go to the store and see so many different pairs, it can seem overwhelming at times. Some shoes are absolutely beautiful, but when you put them on your feet they hurt, or they are too high that you will end up falling flat on your face. There are other shoes that may not be that pleasing to the eye, but you put them on and they feel like slippers so you never want to take them off. You need to find a therapist that feels comfortable and safe, yet will help you grow. You don't want to fall on your face, but you also don't want to feel so comfortable that you will end up being in therapy the rest of your life."

So my question to you is, how did you find your therapist? What suggestions do you have for others in finding someone? I guess the same questions should be asked when you are trying to find a rabbi for spiritual advice/counseling.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

"I Don't Believe You!"

Have you read this article yet?'tbelieveyou.html

Are We Responsible?

There are many questions incest survivors have while they are healing, which is a lifetime event. So many of us have gone to our therapists, rabbis, law enforcement looking for help. There's so many questions that no one has ever answered in a way that we have a definative answer. Here are some of those questions, and I'm hoping we can discuss them here. Please add more questions if you can think of any, and supply answers if you have or can.

1. Do you have to confront your offender(s) to heal?

2. Do you have to forgive your offender(s) to heal?

3. What do you do if your an incest survivor (or survivor of childhood sexual abuse) and your offender still has access to children? Are you responsible to do anything?

4. You're afraid that your younger siblings (brothers/sisters) are at risk of harm, what do you do?

5. You're afraid that your siblings could be abusing their children, what do you do?

The RCA's Handling of the Tendler Affair

How do you all feel about the RCA's handling of the case against rabbi Mordecai Tendler?

Below is an article by the Forward. I think it's time that survivors be given an opportunity to express our thoughts and feelings in a public forum.

Either click on the heading of this posting, or go to the comment section to see the article by the Forward.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

God and Sexual Abuse?

It's not uncommon for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to have issues with the concept of God/higher power. What's your feelings on the whole topic?

Parenting Sexually Abused Children

Just curious what resources are out there for parents? What kinds of concerns do parents have?

How do they keep their kids safe if they were abused by someone in their neighborhood?

What do they do if they don't have the support of the community?

Let's talk about the issues!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Rabbis Who are Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse

Where do rabbis who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse go to get support? I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must be for them?

I'm sure you are out there, so I'm curious what can we do to get you to talk? We keep hearing about boys being abused in yeshivas. Where do you turn? Did anyone believe you if you tried to get help?

Sexual Violence and Lashon Hara - How Do You Survive?

Just curious how survivors who are torah observant deal with the issue of Lashon Hara ('derogatory speech, that is true') ?

Male Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence

We keep hearing that about a fifth of all men were abused as children. That means a fifth of all Jewish men are keeping a low profile and not talking about what happened to them as children (or young adults). How can we as a community help them come out of the closet?

Alternative Therapies - Holistic Healing

I was curious how many survivors have turned to alternative therapies for help?

If you have which kind have you used? Was it helpful? If so how?

If you have, did you go to someone who was Jewish?

If not, did they talk about their spiritual beliefs to you? I'm asking because that was my experience, and was curious if others have had the same problems come up.

Listing Alleged and Convicted Sex Offenders?

I'm not sure how many people have visited The Awareness Center's web page called "Clergy Abuse: Rabbis, Cantors & Other Trusted Officials"?

If you haven't been there yet, pay the site a visit.

I think we should have a discussion of how survivors feel about the page. I know it's quite controversial amongst rabbis, but since we are the ones who have lived through the abuse, I figured we should have the opportunity to discuss it. Please feel free to click on where it says comments and let your voices be heard.


Welcome to the new blog that is for and about Jewish Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, Survivors of Sexual Assault, and Rabbinical Sexual Misconduct. I'm hoping this blog will offer a space for survivors like my self to discuss various issues. If you have ideas of topics to discuss please post them in the comment section of this posting.

I think the first item on my list is to rate how our various communities are dealing with allegations when they are made?

If you went to a rabbi was he or she helpful?