Wednesday, September 28, 2005
Pretty cool I think. I know most people don't leave comments. I know it can feel intimidating, especially since we have one individual who has nothing better to do with his or her time but harass us. Perhaps one day that individual will finally get themselves into therapy, to deal with their anger that survivors of sexual violence are finally speaking out.
If you know of Jewish survivors, please make sure to tell them this blog is a "Happening Place".
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
Please take a few minutes to read the warning below and to take steps to increase your safety when using the internet and the Women’s Aid website.
If an abuser has access to your email account, they may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password that an abuser will not be able to guess.
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing e-mail messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse.
History / cache file:
If an abuser knows how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), they may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet. You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser's settings.
Pull down Edit menu, select Preferences. Click on Navigator on choose 'Clear History'. Click on Advanced then select Cache. Click on "Clear Disk Cache".
On older versions of Netscape: Pull down Options menu. Select Network Options, Select Cache. Click on "Clear Disk Cache".
Pull down Tools menu, select Internet Options. On General page, under Temporary Internet Files , click on "Delete Files". Under History click on "Clear History."
Pull down Members menu, select Preferences. Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced. Purge Cache.
Many browsers are set up to remember form entries, which could be a problem if you use a search engine to find the site. For example, if someone searches for 'domestic violence' on a search engine this entry is remembered by the browser. The next time somebody performs a search for a word beginning with the letter 'd' in that search engine, the word 'domestic violence' will pop up as a suggested entry.
In Internet Explorer you can get around this by clicking on Tools and selecting Internet Options.
Click on Content, select Auto Complete and finally, Clear forms.
This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the internet, would be at a local library, a friend's house, or at work
Sunday, September 25, 2005
It Sickens Me - Today at "Jewish Speed Learning"
Today I was at an event called "Jewish Speed Learning", which was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education and the JCC of Baltimore, MD.
I was outraged to see that these two organization would invite Rabbi Yaakov Menken to be one of their presenters.
I hope the only reason he was invited had to do with the fact they were not aware that they put unsuspecting women at risk of harm.
It's obvious that none of the rabbis who are very familiar with the allegations against this man were more interested in protecting their friend, then they were of protecting non-observant women.
You have to realize that Menken does have some very good friends and influential buddies that he daven's with at the Glenn Avenue Shul. I guess it doesn't matter to his friends that Rabbi Yaakov Menken confessed to HaRav Kaminsky "that he didn't sexual assault his victim"; yet he did confessed to having sexual relations with her.
I guess it doesn't matter to the rabbunim of Baltimore that Menken is married and has children? I'm sure they will tell you that Menken is a master doing Kiruv work (Jewish outreach). You can see that at his website. Why should anyone be concerned. Remember Menken said "the entire affair was the victims fault".
I have a problem with this kind of thinking. Don't forget that Rabbi Yaakov Menken is an orthodox rabbi. I guess he is exempt from halacha? I guess it's ok for him to have sex with a woman other then his wife? I guess it's ok for him to be having sexual relations with women he is doing kiruv work with too?
If you agree with the way I see things please contact Rivkah Lambert Alder who was the contact person for the program. Please make sure she is aware of the danger she placed women in. Center for Jewish Education at 410-735-5010.
Investigating Claims of Sexual Violence - Resources
No one expects rabbis, principals, teachers, organizations, schools, agencies, or corporations to know how to investigate claims of sexual abuse, sexual assault, professional sexual misconduct, and sexual harassment. Yet, it is imperative that if allegations are made, you immediately contact the police and help the alleged survivor to contact the closest rape crisis center.
The Awareness Center is always available for training's, information and resources.
If you are dealing with a case in which a member of an organization is suspected, The Awareness Center also suggest you consult with an organization like one of the two provided below:
1. Sexual Assault Training & Investigations (SATI)
2. Child Abuse Training Forensic Child Abuse Consulting Litigation Support Services
Quotes for the Day
Those who make us do what we can is a friend.
Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections.
When you do not know where you are going, any road will get you there.
The two hardest things to handle in life are failure and success.
Everyone has demons to overcome.
Either lead, follow, or get out of the way.
Do not be afraid to do something badly.
What your life turns out to be is usually different from what you thought it would be.
Expanding the mind creates the most happiness.
It does not matter that we will not attain a state of perfection or complete humility in our lifetimes.
Do not speak ill of yourself; others will do it for you.
Saturday, September 24, 2005
The Associated Press
Sep. 10, 2005 - Although nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders lived in the 14 parishes hit by Hurricane Katrina, the Department of Corrections is most worried about fewer than 300 those who ordinarily check in at parole offices closed by the storm.
Department spokeswoman Pam Laborde said that includes 110 in Jefferson Parish, 136 in the two New Orleans offices, and 23 in St. Bernard Parish.
Convicted sex offenders, including prostitutes and video voyeurs, must keep their current addresses on file with state police even if they are not on active probation or parole.
LaBorde said probation and parole officers in the four closed districts were supervising a total of 13,973 people.
The Corrections Department set up a toll-free number 1-800-342-6110 for any evacuee on probation or parole to register their current location.
Some called in earlier, she said, including one who called the state Office of Emergency Preparedness. "He said, `Hey, I don't want to get in trouble. I want you to know I'm at the Astrodome,'" Laborde said.
Laborde said many probation and parole agents who worked in the four closed offices are working for now in other districts, and inmates who live in the three parishes are being released to other districts.
The department is working to get other states to take over supervision of probationers and parolees living with relatives in those states, and to get the word out to shelters about the toll-free reporting number.
Those staying with relatives within Louisiana can report to local parole offices, she said.
Nearly 4,500 registered sex offenders lived in the 14 parishes hit by Hurricane Katrina. They probably left their home parish, and may have left the state in the storm's evacuation.
The seven with the worst damage and the most people displaced by the hurricane and flooding include 3,300 of those offenders, according to the Louisiana State Police sex offender registry.
Florida requires certain registered sex offenders to ride out a hurricane in jail, but Louisiana has no policy in regard to sex offenders during hurricanes or evacuations. That means those registered in the system could end up in shelters or communities across Louisiana and in other states.
"There's no statute in Louisiana to require them to be reincarcerated," Capt. Jerry Patrick of the Louisiana State Police told The News-Star of Monroe.
Shelters and communities that take in evacuees can check people's names against the state or national sex offender registry, and should use available state and national resources if they have concerns, he said.
On the Net:
State police sex offender and child predator site: http://www.lasocpr.lsp.org/socpr/
Friday, September 23, 2005
One out every three to five women and one out of every five to seven men are survivors of childhood sexual abuse.One way those who have concerns about Jewish survivors speaking out can help, is to advocate for there to be resources for survivors in those very specific communities that promote hate. Yes, even anti-semetics rape and molest their children.
Every two and a half minutes , somewhere in America, someone is sexually assaulted.
Up to 4,065 pregnancies may have resulted from sexual violence.
I found the following link on The Awareness Center's web page:
Resources for our Non-Jewish Friends
If you know of any resources that would be helpful to Non-Jewish survivors of childhood sexual abuse, please send the information to The Awareness Center.
© (2003) by Vicki Polin, MA, ATR, LCPC , and Na'ama Yehuda, MSC, SLP, APP
Over the years there have been many reasons why the Jewish Community kept silent about sexual crimes committed by individuals in our community. To this day there is a legitimate reason why we may want to remain silent. We have to remember that there is a large number of hate groups that would love to promote their propaganda by posting information about Jews who molest on their web pages and publications. Their eagerness is a reminder that anti-Semitism is alive and thriving.
Since the beginning of time, Jews around the world have been watched as if we were under a microscope. We can't ignore this fact. The question is what should we do? Can we afford to expose our vulnerabilities and show the rest of the world that we are also human? The truth is that we have a choice. We can choose to live in fear, or we can allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse a voice, so that we can take steps to make the necessary changes to heal our community.
When it comes to sexual abuse in any community (Jewish or non-Jewish), "silence is NOT golden." Things will never change unless we bring attention to the problem and work as a community to come up with solutions. In the secular world there is often talk about all sorts of issues (i.e. civil rights, anti-Semitism, hate crimes, and other forms of violence). We need to remember that whenever anyone wants to make a difference, make changes to the status quo, there will always be someone or a group of people who will attempt to destroy the efforts. Look at slavery, women's rights, democracy. Without taking risks, nothing would have changed. Without taking risks, our children WILL continue to risk sexual abuse from within our community.
When it comes to child molestation, we need to say and believe in our hearts --"NEVER AGAIN!" We need to do this in a public venue. It's the only way for things to change. Yes, anti-Semitic groups have, and will continue to use any information they can get their hands on to promote hate. Yes, they have used some of the information posted on The Awareness Center's web page. When this occurs, The Awareness Center's policy is to make reports to the FBI (http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp), and to encourage others to do the same. Don't forget—hate is a crime in the United States, as in many other countries. Hate is a topic we need to speak out publicly about, just as we do about childhood sexual abuse. We need to do our part by reporting all forms of violent behavior, including hate crimes on the Internet.
So yes, hate groups will wave their supposed "proof for Jewish perversion." They will wave a twisted reality of our efforts. Still, we need to have faith that the rest of the world's communities have to deal with similar issues to our own (e.g. problems in the Catholic Church, issues of domestic violence in the Islamic world). That people of hate aren't everyone. We cannot let individuals who promote hate prevent us from healing our community.
As Jews, we strive to live by the teachings of compassion and courage. Would we allow intimidation and other forms of violence to keep us silent? By keeping the secret that Jews are not immune to abusing their children, whose agenda would we be following? What opportunities for growth would we be missing?
When Jews talk about sexual abuse within our community, you can bet that extreme Islamic groups, the Ku Klux Klan, and other Aryan groups will use this material for their benefit. However, keeping in mind the righteous attitude that most hate groups flaunt, one can still wonder about what the statistics are for the same various hate groups when it comes to sexually victimizing their own children. Until they show otherwise, there is no reason to believe that they are any more immune then any other group of people, any more immune than we are.
The question for us is what do WE do? Do we continue to keep our eyes closed in hope that if we don't see something is wrong, others won't see it, either? Should we continue to force our children who were sexually abused to be silent? Or do we take a risk and expose sexual abuse in our midst, knowing full well that it will be used by some sick individuals to promote their agenda of hate?
Let us remember the words of David Hamelech:
"When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear, though war break out against me, even then I will be confident...for in the day of trouble Hashem will keep me safe...then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me... Teach me your ways, Hashem, lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of you, Hashem, in the land of the living. Wait for Hashem, be strong and take heart and wait for Hashem." (Psalm 27)
The Awareness Center wants to thank both "Sharon" and the Baltimore Jewish Times for having the courage to tell about and publish the Sept. 16 article "Teens Talk About Life After Rape"
"Sharon" deserves a round of applause, for surviving not only the assault, but misdiagnosis and inappropriate treatment, which unfortunately is way too common. It's great to hear that finally both Sharon and her family have been given the opportunity to heal.
It's so important for the Jewish community to accept that one out of every three to five women, and one out of every five to seven men have been sexually abused or assaulted by the time they reach age 18.
Sexual abuse and assault are often crimes of secrecy and silence. The problem is compounded as only 32 percent of sexual assaults against people 12 or older are reported. Reasons include fears that reporting could lead to further victimization by the offender; fears of other forms of retribution by the offender or by his or her friends or family; concerns about the arrest, prosecution and incarceration of an offender who may be a family member or friend and on whom the victim or others may depend; concerns about others finding out about the sexual assault or about not being believed; and concerns about being traumatized by the response of the criminal justice system.
The Awareness Center Inc. is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse and Assault, based in Baltimore. We are a victim advocacy organization.
The Awareness Center Inc.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Cases In The News Today
Case of Perry March - Attorney at Lawyer (Nashville, TN)
- Sexual Harassment Case
- DV Murder Trial
Case of Ellen Garfield former music teacher at Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, MA
- Accused of sexually abusing a 14 year-old male student.
Case of Steven Frucht, Yeshiva University Employee, New York, NY
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Neve Yaakov Sofer Stam
There are rumors that he is either in New Jersey or New York now.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Using the Shidduch System: Is it really safe?
There have been times that a shadchan neglected to tell a client (either male or female) of their potential dates past criminal record. There are pros and cons about doing this. Everyone deserves a fresh start. If two individuals don't hit it off, there is no need to share everything. One of the problems of doing this is that there have been times that if one person doesn't hit it off with another, one may think of a friend who might be a better possibility. They no longer may use the shadchan, and a friend can end up engaged to someone who could be problematic.
I am aware of situations in which the shadchan (matchmaker) was aware that there were allegations of an individual being physically or sexually violent. Because the shadchan (or the rabbis who support the alleged offender) didn't believe the allegations, an introduction was made with a potential partner. There have been several cases where a couple marry, and an innocent person becomes a new victim of domestic violence, and or their children (male and female) become incest survivors.
After consulting with many survivors of these sorts of situations, I think it's time that we demand that there be a policy that shadchans are required to disclose if a potential mate has a criminal record prior to the introduction, especially when there have been allegations of physical or sexual violence.
Friday, September 16, 2005
How Safe are the Jewish On-Line Dating Services?
If you are looking for resources for help, contact The Awareness Center, Inc.
Below is an sample of The Jewish Dating Services. You may want to ask each one what their guidelines are when accusations of sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or other forms of sexual misconduct are made against one of their members. Remember offenders can be both male and female.
Message from Danya
Here's what my offenders boss told me:
"My major concern is whether or not this rabbi is a danger to his students. In order to determine this he will send the rabbi to a psychologist who will test him for sexual deviance. If he fails the test, the rabbi will be fired."
"And if he passes, then keep him as a rabbi in your school, that seems fair.
Just do me one favor please. Make sure to send out a letter of notification to all the mothers (especially those who are in a crisis) of his students to let them know that it has come to your attention that this rabbi abused a young widow while her husband was dying (emotionally, psychologically and sexually) but that you've tested him and he's passed so luckily for everyone, especially his young vulnerable students, he will remain on the payroll!"
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Rochelle C. Eisenberg - SEPTEMBER 16, 2005
Baltimore Jewish Times
Sometimes, journeys take people on paths of self-discovery. Often, these journeys may be spiritual in nature. And sometimes, the journeys come unannounced and unplanned, but when completed, they test the mettle of those who unfortunately must travel them. Hopefully, they pave the way so that others do not have to take similar paths.
This is the story of a journey. Unfortunately, this is a journey that begins with the rape of a young teen.
It is a journey that plunged a Jewish family deep into the depths of darkness, and then allowed it to climb back into the light. At the same time, it is also the tale of a mother. A mother determined to help a daughter she did not recognize. And a local medical community that they say failed them.
Finally, it is a story of hope. A story of a program that the mother says saved her daughter's life.
And a story that ends with the belief that there are no victims but only survivors who move forward.
For a 14-year-old Reisterstown teen named Sharon (not her real name), the devastating chain of events began a month after her bat mitzvah. According to Jewish law and tradition, Sharon had just entered adulthood. It should have been a time for celebration, a time to look forward to young adulthood and the trials and tribulations that accompany this part of life.
But unbeknownst to her, she was about to enter adulthood in a tragic manner she never could have anticipated. On a late summer evening, Sharon was raped by a stranger at knifepoint in a secluded wooded area near railroad tracks located behind the Village of Timbergrove.
A year later, Sharon approached her rabbi and said that she wanted to tell her story to the Baltimore Jewish Times (which has opted not to publish the names of the teen, her mother and her rabbi). She has never reported the rape to police.
"I want people to be more cautious. I want them to watch out," said Sharon. She also hopes that others will stay away from the area where she was raped. (Several Baltimore County Police officers from the Franklin Precinct said they were not aware of other sexual assaults in that area.)
Sharon's rabbi said that her congregant wanted to discuss her case with the media because "she wanted to make sure other girls didn't have to go through what she went through to keep themselves safe. There is often a feeling in the Jewish community that people don't talk about these things.
There is a sense that our lives are perfect. But there is nothing to be ashamed of. You can pass through these trials and come out whole. And there are resources out there and places to get whole again."
Eena Bass-Field is a child and adolescent art psychotherapist at Turnaround Inc., a rape crisis, domestic abuse and sexual assault center that provides therapy, support and legal services to victims. She said when rape victims speak out, they "feel empowered. They take ownership and start to heal."
Ms. Bass-Field, who has counseled Sharon, said she feels that Sharon "wants to help someone else. She wants to let other kids know what happened, and that if they are victims, they don't have to hold back telling others."
That's exactly what Sharon did, at first. As a result, the consequences were dire.
After being raped, Sharon returned home and kept her tragic secret to herself. Sharon – who upon meeting is extremely pleasant and quite open about her ordeal – said, "I wanted to tell people, but I was scared." Shortly thereafter, however, her mother began to see major changes in both Sharon's physical appearance and behavior.
Physically, she adopted a gothic appearance, dying her hair black, wearing heavy black eyeliner and huge skull earrings. She gained 50 pounds over a seven-month period and stopped caring for herself hygienically. She wouldn't even let her mother wash her clothes.
She began communicating with a boy from New York, e-mailing him and running up $100 monthly cell phone bills. He became one of only two friends that she confided in – her only two lifelines.
Emotionally, the changes were even greater. Sharon became belligerent to friends and family members. She attempted suicide three times, swallowing 50 aspirins in one sitting.
"I was super-depressed," said Sharon. "The world revolved around me."
Her mother relates what happened over the next several months – a story of which Sharon said she does not remember all the details.
Desperate, her mother called approximately 25 psychiatrists on her insurance plan, only to find out that none were accepting new clients. Eventually, she located one psychiatrist – only to be told that he would see her daughter in three months.
Finally, a psychiatrist not on the insurance plan diagnosed Sharon with depression and prescribed medication.
Six months from the time of the incident, things were still spiraling downhill. "The only way to describe her was as if something or someone had taken over and possessed her body," said her mother.
Sharon began physically striking her mother. In one instance, her mother remembered, "by the third time, I smacked her and with great difficulty and procrastination, I called 911."
Sharon ended up in the emergency room at an area hospital. She was referred to a mental health facility because she didn't qualify for inpatient services. Five days later, she was released with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and sent home with medication.
The next month, Sharon ran away from home. After 911 was called, she was sent to the same mental health facility for inpatient services. And again, she was treated for bipolar disorder and given more medication.
Finally last March, an incident occurred that perhaps, in and of itself, was no different from the many incidents that played out in Sharon's household before. But somehow, what happened that evening made it clear to Sharon's mother that something had to change if she was going to save her daughter's life.
As Sharon's mother recalled, "It seemed to be a good day." When she arrived home, Sharon greeted her with a friendly hello. But 20 minutes later, Sharon ran away. After Sharon was returned home by the police, a terrifying scene at home unfolded. Sharon hurled obscenities, threatened to hurt others, and pushed her mother and grandfather. Sharon's mother again dialed 911.
Back at the mental health facility and watching her daughter continue to deteriorate, Sharon's mother said, "I knew the cycle between the ER, [the mental health facility], and inpatient hospitalization was going to continue indefinitely."
A new approach was needed – a drastic approach. "I realized I had to send her away," said her mother. Her solution – "brat camp."
Unlike a boot camp, which uses punishment and fear to change behavior, "brat camps" are wilderness-based programs, emphasizing wilderness- survival techniques and interpersonal relationships to foster trust, responsibility and self-esteem. Unlike Outward Bound, these camps use licensed therapists and psychologists to diagnose and provide treatment plans.
Sharon's mother investigated the Ascent Wilderness Intervention Program in Idaho, and after sending Sharon's records, her daughter was accepted. "The program was a last resort to save my daughter's life," said her mother.
Unlike the local psychiatrists who diagnosed Sharon as having bipolar disorder, the therapists at Ascent from the beginning suspected sexual assault. Within two weeks of Sharon's arrival, her mother learned the truth – her daughter was raped.
Things seemed to be finally moving forward when Sharon's mother received another phone call. After 40 years in business, Ascent went bankrupt. Quickly, she was able to get Sharon accepted into RedCliff Ascent, a wilderness therapy program for troubled teens in Utah.
RedCliff Ascent was the site for the first "Brat Camp" documentary, filmed by Twenty Twenty Television in the United Kingdom. The Emmy-winning documentary focused on six United Kingdom participants. A site in Oregon was the scene of the "Brat Camp" series that aired on ABC-TV. The experiences of the teens are similar.
Sharon arrived at RedCliff after two escorts, who were on their way to pick up two other teens from Ascent, brought Sharon to Utah. "I got so nervous. 'What is this place?'" remembered Sharon. And from the beginning, she said, "Me and a friend were talking and wondered, 'Has anyone ever escaped?'"
For 116 days, almost four months, Sharon would stay here, unable to see family and friends, although she was able to correspond by letter.
The program was rigorous. Dinner consisted of rice and lentils, breakfast was oats. The teens were placed in groups, and every day they hiked, sometimes with a 60-pound pack on their backs. There were no showers. Napkins were rationed as toilet paper; once used up, the teens resorted to the bark of trees.
And in order to graduate and see their families again, they had to complete eight phases of the program. The first was to build a fire without using matches.
"It took me 45 days," Sharon said, adding, "when I started the fire, there was such a sense of accomplishment."
Physically, Sharon began to regain her former appearance. In the first week, she lost 10 pounds, the second week another 15.
As she progressed through the phases, Sharon grew stronger. Through the projects, such as learning to build a shelter out of tarp, she realized that she could do anything if she put her mind to it. More importantly, she regained her self-esteem. The staff named her "Dreaming Willow" because Sharon said, "a willow is strong and it knows how to bend. Dreams are safe places."
Meanwhile during Sharon's stay at RedCliff, her mother gave authorization to a psychologist in Utah to perform a full psychological testing on her daughter. The result of the testing determined that Sharon was not bipolar but suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.
Finally, on a beautiful day in July, Sharon's mother arrived at RedCliff to attend Sharon's graduation. Watching a video as Sharon and her mother embraced for the first time in four months, as a mother saw the glimmer of a daughter she used to know, there is finally, after a year of tragedy, hope that normalcy can return.
"I found self-control and self- confidence," said Sharon, who hopes in the future to counsel other rape victims.
"You don't know the tears that have been shed," said her mother. But now, she said, "it's so good to hear her laugh."
During the long ordeal, one of the things that troubled her mother was Sharon's loss of faith. Every time that they filled out paperwork at the mental health facility, Sharon responded to the question, "What is your religion?" as "I'm an atheist."
Coming so soon after her bat mitzvah, it was particularly difficult for her mother. But when a letter from Sharon arrived from RedCliff asking, "Would you please send me a copy of my Torah portion, the Shema and Va'ahavtah?" her mother said, "I got so teary-eyed."
Although Sharon still wonders about the existence of a higher power, she plans to read "Who Needs God" by Rabbi Harold Kushner, a gift from her grandmother. Shortly after returning home, she spoke with her rabbi and is beginning to participate in religious life again.
Yet it is the words of her mother – "The honeymoon is over. She is acting like a normal teen" – that might just be the sweetest sentiment to date.
Jailed son of city rabbi gets special treatment
I think the articles are extremely important to read. While reading them keep in mind that this is very similar to what happens with cases of sexual violence in Maryland and also else where.
- Jailed son of city rabbi gets special treatment - He's serving assault term at Central Booking, not prison; explanations vary (Baltimore Sun - September 15, 2005)
- Juvenile justice panel member goes to jail - City teen broke detention to go to advisory meeting (Baltimore Sun - November 12, 2005)
Five Years For Teen In Violence (Baltimore Jewish Times - November 12, 2005)
- Attempted Murder Suspect In Custody (Baltimore Jewish Times - November 12, 2005)
Stages of Healing
We want you to know that we are sorry for the profound suffering a professional/clergy has caused you. We grieve with you over this breach of sacred trust.
It is wrong for a professional/clergy to have taken advantage of you. What happened to you was not your fault.
To make matters worse, many people in the organization/congregation may not be able to see this clearly. If they know who you are they may blame you, thus adding to your isolation and hurt. Blaming the victim is wrong.
The Stages of the Healing Process
Although most of these stages are necessary for every survivor, a few of them – the emergency stage, remembering the abuse, confronting your family, and forgiveness – are not applicable for every woman.
The Decision To Heal - Once you recognize the effects of abuse in your life, you need to make an active commitment to heal. Healing happens only when you choose it and are willing to change yourself.
The Emergency Stage - Beginning to deal with memories and suppressed feelings can throw your life into utter turmoil. Remember, this is only a stage. It won't last forever.
Remembering - Many survivors suppress all memories of what happened to them. Those who do not forget the actual incidents often forget how it felt at the time. Remembering is the process of getting back both memory and feeling.
Believing It Happened - Survivors often doubt their own perceptions. Coming to believe that the abuse really happened, and that it really hurt you, is a vital part of the healing process.
Breaking Silence - Most adult survivors kept the abuse a secret in childhood. Telling another human being about what happened to you is a powerful healing force that can dispel the shame of being a victim.
Making Contact With The Child Within - Many survivors have lost touch with their own vulnerability. Getting in touch with the child within can help you feel compassion for yourself, more anger at your abuse, and greater intimacy with others.
Trusting Yourself - The best guide for healing is your own inner voice. Learning to trust your own perceptions, feelings, and intuitions form a new basis for action in the world.
Grieving and Mourning - As children being abused, and later as adults struggling to survive, most survivors haven't felt their losses. Grieving is a way to honour your pain.
Anger - The Backbone Of Healing - Anger is a powerful and liberating force. Whether you need to get in touch with it or have always had plenty to spare, directing your rage squarely at your abuser, and at those who didn't protect you, is pivotal to healing.
Disclosures and Confrontations - Directly confronting your abuser and/or your family, organization, congregation is not for every survivor, but it can be a dramatic, cleansing tool.
Forgiveness - Forgiveness of the abuse is not an essential part of the healing process, although it tends to be the one most recommended. The only essential forgiveness is for yourself. Forgiveness is an honest release within the persons heart. True forgivers do not pretend they do not suffer. They do not pretend the wrong does not matter much. Forgiving eyes are open eyes.
Spirituality - Having a sense of a power greater than yourself can be a real asset in the healing process. Spirituality is a uniquely personal experience. You might find it through traditional religion, meditation, nature, or a support group.
Resolution and Moving On - As you move through these stages again and again, you will reach a point of integration. Your feelings and perspectives will stabilize. You will come to terms with your abuser and others directly involved. While you won't erase your history, you will make deep and lasting changes in your life. Having gained awareness, compassion, and power through healing you will have the opportunity to work toward a better world.
Possibilities for Healing
Therapy - Almost all victims/survivors benefit from good therapy. It's a good idea to ask for recommendations from friends, other survivors, family members, your local women's shelter or crisis centre. Once you have some possibilities, screen them particularly finding out their background in working with abuse victims and survivors.
Pastoral Counselling - This type of counselling focuses on your spiritual needs. Professional/
Clergy misconduct does extensive damage to religious and spiritual understanding.
Other Survivors - A survivor friend and/or support group can be helpful.
Laughter - Given an appropriate time and place, tapping into laughter can be a source of relief and healing.
The simple things in life - Often the ways to reconnect with life are simple yet important things such as chocolate, solitaire, music, children, long walks, and nature.
Whether or not to confront the abuser, and if so who best to do this, is a difficult decision. You may want to consider:
Confronting the professional/clergy informally
Confronting the congregation informally or using its professional/clergy misconduct policy
Filing a complaint with the organization/denomination
Filing a legal complaint
There are good reasons for not confronting. Some questions that may be helpful as guides in the decision making process are:
What do I hope to gain from this confrontation?
What do I stand to lose?
Whom exactly do I want to talk to and why?
What are my motives?
Am I healthy enough to withstand the strain?
Do I feel balanced enough to risk being called crazy?
Can I withstand the anger I'm likely to face?
Do I have a solid enough support system?
You may want to consider having an advocate. She or he can help you work through these questions and consider what is in your best interest. An advocate is not the same as a lawyer of a therapist. An advocate is someone who stands with you, helping you to clarify your needs, offering support, and can serve as a conduit between you and the abuser, congregation, and denomination. ( See the Advocacy link)
Filing a Complaint with the Professional/Denomination Organization
An important decision to consider is whether or not to file a complaint with the denomination or professional organization. This would be the group that credentials and disciplines the clergy or other professional.
Historically, the complaint process has focussed more on the professional/ clergy than on the complainant.
There may be limited financial provisions for the complainant. Many professional/denominational organizations are relatively inexperienced at processing misconduct complaints.
The chances of being revictimized by this process should be taken into account.
Some Possible Responses of the Community of Faith to Abuse
Learn About Abuse - provide appropriate training for religious leadership
Examine Values And Attitudes - explore personal and group values and attitudes abuse, relationships, conflict, authority
A Place Of Understanding, Where It Is Safe For The Victim To Disclose Abuse - the community of faith can be a place of hearing, believing, understanding
A Message Of Hope And Healing - affirm the dignity of humanity, of all creation
Safety - physical and emotional safety are paramount
Counselling Support - refer to counselling, offer support by paying for counselling, babysitting, transportation, etc.
Hold Abusers Accountable For Their Actions - include support and accountability for abusers, offer support for the abusers family and friends
new ways of viewing relationships and differences
theological issues of forgiveness, confession, suffering, submission
affirming the equality and human dignity of all
understanding control and power
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Kia's Story - By Kia S.
By Kia S.
I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. I can say that out loud. I know it wasn't my fault.
I've done therapy, done everything that was expected of someone who's been in my place.
The problem is that I'm totally lost when it comes to understanding G-d.
I have never been able to grasp the concept of there being a higher power. I have been totally at a loss. It's all so foreign to me. I still have no idea in how to connect.
Like most survivors, there's a time that you reach a stage in healing that you are searching for something spiritual. I have always been into holistic health, so it was natural for me to dabbled with all sorts of new age and eastern philosophies. For me, those ways of viewing life have been about healing, unconditional love, and embracing various aspects of yourself that you might have feared or hated.
While I was on that holistic journey I met some awesome people and had some wonderful experiences. The problem was that as time went on I felt like something was lacking. I was talking to some friends on a ListServe. One of them was also Jewish. After a year or two of talking my friend suggested that I call this rabbi he knew. I "Googled" the Rabbis name, and he seemed like a great person to try to connect with.
When I first called this Rabbi he seemed very open and honest to me. He seemed to understand where I was coming from. I thought he would be a perfect guide for me to connect with my neshema. Besides being a rabbi, he also told me he had a degree in social work. He also told me that I could tell him anything, and it would always remain confidential. I had been in therapy, and I understood what confidentiality meant. Boy was I wrong when it came to this rabbi.
As the weeks went on I felt flattered by all the attention he was giving me. I finally agreed to meet him in person. I drove for many hours to another state. I don't want to go into the details of my experience with this "holy rabbi." He didn't sexually abuse me, but let's just say the words "professional misconduct" seem to fit this experience.
The reason I am writing this is to say that just because someone says they are a rabbi does not mean they can be trusted.
Just because someone wears a black hat, or a black velvet yarmulke, doesn't mean they are ethical.
Most important to remember unless the rabbi is a licensed mental health professional, there is no such thing as confidentiality.
Knowledge is a stepping-stone to the truth.
All things change, and we with them.
Things can always get better.
Have faith to move mountains.
Caution is sometimes a hindrance.
An oak tree is just a nut that held its ground.
Happiness is a form of courage.
Fun is a safety valve that lets the steam pressure off from the boiler
The world belongs to the courageous.
Choose worthy role models.
Trust your intuition.
Meir Lichter, STOP POSTING!
Everyone, if this guy posts again, please ignore him. I will delete all of his posts under this name or any other names he uses.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Over the last several months there have been serious allegations made by several different women of sexual misconduct of an individual on dates.
The individual in question is currently listed on Frumster.com (an orthodox dating service). I have been told by reliable sources that even after official complaints were made to Frumster regarding this mans behavior he is still considered a good candidate for their dating service.
Another reliable source told me that this individual's rabbi is aware of the situation, and that the man on frumster has agreed to stop dating.
Given all of the above information and the seriousness of the allegations made, why is it that this man is still posted on Frumster?
Is there a story here?
1) Horowitz lived at Ohr Somayach, Monsey for several years. That's where Rabbi Yaakov Menken went to Yeshiva and got smicha (ordination). The question is: Were they both there around the same time?
2) Horowitz lived in Iowa for several years. There were behavioral problems among young men in this community, young men who would have been in their teens when Horowitz lived there. Did Rabbi Horowitz know Pinchas Lew during his years in Iowa? Rabbi Pinchas Lew was part of a group of troubled young Orthodox men who were involved in armed robberies (and Lew later had a sexual misconduct allegation made against him).
Some of the reasons I'm asking these questions is because we all know that the majority of sex offenders were abused themselves as children. I'm not making an excuse for their behaviors, I'm just stating facts. If our communities really want to do something to end sexual abuse and sexual assault, we need to examine everything. It's time to break the taboos.
I am also posting my thoughts here because it seems no Jewish newspaper would be interested in looking into these issues. I can't figure out if it's because they fear loosing funding from JUF, due to harassment by community leaders, fear of lossing their jobs, or what?
FYI: The secular papers are only interested in cases that deal with the Catholic priests. They seem to sell more papers then rabbis who abuse.
Sunday, September 11, 2005
CALL TO ACTION: UJA Federation of NY Sponsors Event with Rabbi Marc "Mordechai" Gafni
An oversized card, called "Enjoy autumn in the Berkshires at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center" has been sent out. It it includes a Shavuot event on June 1-4, 2006 conducted by Rabbi Mordechai Gafni. It appears this is an agency sponsored by the UJA Federation of New York. Rabbi Gafni confessed to having sexual relations with a minor (see below).
Please call Morris W. Offit - Chair of the Board, of the UJA Federation of New York. Let him know how you feel about Rabbi Mordechai Gafni representing the JUA at the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center.
Please also call:
Lauren Katzowitz Shenfield - Executive Director
Philanthropy Advisors – A Service of UJA-Federation of New York
130 East 59th Street, 12th Floor
New York, NY 10022
UJA Federation of NY
130 East 59th Street
New York, NY 10022
Case of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni
(aka: Marc Gafni, Mark Gafni, Marc Winiarz, Mordechai Winiarz, Mordechai Winyarz)
Born as Marc Winiarz, went to New York from the Midwest for high school and college, became a youth leader and rabbi, was accused of sexual assaulting two teenage girls, and attempted sexual assault of a young adult woman. He was also accused of cult like practices. In 1991 he left the Unitied States to start a new life in Israel, changing his name to Mordechai Gafni.
Marc Gafni: "I was a stupid kid and we were in love," the rabbi said. "She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her"
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the spiritual leader of the Israeli community of Efrat, was going to revoke the rabbinic ordination he gave Rabbi Gafni many years ago when they had a close rabbi-student relationship. When Gafni heard of Rabbi Riskin's wishes, he wrote a letter "returning" his semicha to spare his former teacher any further embarrassment.
Friday, September 09, 2005
My Fantasy Family - By Aviva K.
By Aviva K.
I know I can talk until I turn blue to my therapist about the thing that causes me the most pain.
I know talking won't change a thing. My problem is that I do not belong to anyone's family.
I'm so tired of being an outsider looking in. I don't know if you could understand how painful it is? I hate going to strangers homes and them asking me all the questions that get asked.
I keep trying to let go of the fantasy I have of who I want to pretend my family was. My made-up family was definitely something that has held me together while I was growing up. I never could tell anyone that I was having sexual relations with my older brother and my father.
I feel no shame in saying I am a survivor of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. I want to scream at the top of my lungs that my biological family is toxic.
Should I be embarrassed to say that whenever I communicate with them I become suicidal, even if it's just on the phone?
Do I have to tell everyone that I've had to move as far away from them as I could, just to remain sane?
I want so badly to be a part of something, but as of today I'm still just an outsider looking in. I thought I wanted to be observant, but for self-preservation I've had to give up on that dream. It's just been way to difficult.
Every Shabbos it slaps me in the face. I am reminded I don't have a family. I do have some very good, wonderful friends. I do feel loved and cared for by them, yet I am an outsider looking in. I am almost always welcome in their homes for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals. I'm also almost always welcome in my rabbis home for meals. They are all very kind for doing this. In so many ways I am a part of all of their families, yet in so many ways I'm not.
There are times I'm given the hint that "this Shabbos is for real family members only." I do understand. I am a stranger, an outsider.
Of course there are various celebrations that I'm not invited to. I do understand, I am not a blood relative, but I'll be honest -- it leaves my heart aching. No one knows of how many tears I've shed in secrecy. I don't know how to make this pain stop. I don't know how to get over what I've never had. I don't know how to stop my jealousy for what most other people have. Will this period of mourning ever end?
Walking away from the observant world saddens me a great deal. But the pain isn't as sharp. It doesn't leave me double over in my bed crying for mercy.
Just once I want to know what it feels like to be normal. I want to know what it's like to take it for granted that I am unconditionally a part of a family. That I am expected to be present for family functions. I hear all the time that all Jews are family. I guess that doesn't include me.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
Please use the following two links to download the pdf files relating to this case. They are the copies of the original professional discipline order regarding Rabbi Horowitz.
The 1986 order is shocking. Apparently, after Rabbi Alan Horwitz's 1983 conviction for child molestation, he was put on probation. Arrangements were made for him to live at the Ohr Somayach campus in Monsey, NY. see: http://www.ohrsomayach.edu/index.html. He apparently lived there for several years.
Ohr Somayach is a Yeshiva serving young students. Please remember that this rabbi is/was a writer for NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association) He was treated by Dr. Joseph F. Chambers MD (Maryland) and Dr. Issac Twersky (Monsey, NY).
Rabbi Alan J. Horowitz was released on conditional parole November 1, 2004 from Oneida in NY
On July 27, 1992, Alan J. Horowitz of Schenectady, New York was sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison for sodomizing a nine-year-old psychiatric patient the previous year. Allegedly, he has assaulted a string of children from California to Israel to New York in the past twenty years. Alan J. Horowitz is an Orthodox rabbi, magna cum laude, M.D., Ph.D. A graduate of Duke University, and was a writer for NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association).
Monday, September 05, 2005
I'm so frustrated I want to scream
Is that when someone who is Jewish doesn't want to be Jewish?
Is it when someone who is Jewish wants to commit suicide?
Is it when someone who is Jewish and a survivor of sexual assault, incest, or being manipulated by a rabbi into having sex, stands up against the hypocrisy of our religious leaders trying to make them be accountable for the cover-ups?
Where is the outrage of our communities?
How long will we remain complacent, and just sit back and do nothing?
When or will we will ever demand change?
If one more person tells me I shouldn't tell people I'm a survivor because it hurts my chances of finding a good husband . . . I'm going to SCREAM!
Thoughts for Today
A drastic lifestyle change can be shocking.
Never give up control of your life.
If you fail, fail with dignity.
Make sure your dreams are set high.
Ignore those who try to discourage you.
There comes a time in everyone's life when they realize that they have to live with themselves.
Mistakes show us what we need to learn.
It is harder to stand up against a crowd than to go along with it.
Very few opinions are written in stone.
If someone throws you a ball, you don't have to catch it.
State your needs.
Friday, September 02, 2005
Having PTSD and Coping with Hurricane Katrina
I figured that it would be important for everyone to have a place to discuss what they are thinking and feeling.
A friend wrote me:
I know we shouldn't be shocked, but there have been many reports of sexual assaults down there. Also with the added increase of stress in families, what is anyone doing to prevent domestic violence, and child abuse? How many children are getting abducted during the insanity down there? How many sexual predators are lurking on the streets down there?
I know there's enough problems, but these are things that also concern me.
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim’s Hurricane Relief Fund
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 31, 2005
Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim’s Hurricane Relief Fund
The Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (LCADV), a private 501c3, not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1982, is establishing a Louisiana Domestic Violence Victim’s Hurricane Relief Fund to assist victims of domestic violence and child victimization who are displaced and affected by Hurricane Katrina.
LCADV is a network of 20 domestic violence programs/shelters throughout the state. Four of our shelters and two nonresidential programs are completely closed at the time and two or three may be completely destroyed. Sad to say, domestic violence and child victimization are social problems that do not stop during this natural disaster we are experiencing and with cessation of all direct services in the gulf coast region, the increased need for relocation and basic monetary assistance is essential for these women and children.
LCADV is accepting donations that are specifically earmarked to assist battered survivors and their children who have been directly affected/displaced by the hurricane. The donations will be used to assist battered victims from the following parishes in Louisiana: Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, St. Bernard, and Plaquemines.
The donations will be used for the following purposes:
Relocation of domestic violence victims.
Purchasing of basic needs, i.e. baby formula, diapers, food, clothing, etc. that could not be met elsewhere.
Deposits on houses, electric bills,
Car repair, gas, public transportation
Other basic, life sustaining needs
All donations go directly to victims of domestic violence affected by this hurricane and will not be used for any administrative or other purposes.
The Louisiana Domestic Violence Hurricane Relief Fund Account is setup with AmSouth Bank which is located in the following states: Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee. If you live in one of these states you could make a donation at the local AmSouth Bank Branch to the LCADV Domestic Violence Hurricane Relief Fund Account number: 0020085338. Donations from other states can be made through wire transfer to this account.
If you would like to make a donation using MasterCard or Visa, you may contact the Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence office at 225-752-1296 with your credit card information. Donations may also be electronically deposited into our account by faxing a voided check with the amount of the donation to (225)751-8927. LCADV will setup an electronic deposit and you will receive confirmation of your donation with the tax-deductible receipt.
Lynn Rosenthal firstname.lastname@example.org
National Network to End Domestic Violence
Don't forget that the month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Monthate
Don't forget that the month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. It's never to early to start planning events for your community. Please let The Awareness Center know what you are planning and we will post it on our site. Also if you need ideas, please feel free to call us at: 443-857-5560.