Thursday, August 03, 2006

Ziporah's Story

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I am an incest survivor.

I grew up in a Jewish home, yet never knew anything about Judaism. I remember being curious about my friends who went to church each week and their relationship with God. It was something I was never taught.

I had been to synagogues for bar mitzvah's, bris's and the high holidays (at least some years), yet that was about it.

When I was a teenager I remember going out of my way to drive through the orthodox community near me. I was always curious about them, wondering what it would be like to live like that? I sort of thought of them as being like the Amish, yet different because I saw them driving cars and talking on cell phones.

When I went away to college I went to a few Hillel events, yet had trouble connecting with anyone there. I ended up making friends with people in my dorm.

One day I met a guy in one of my classes who was frum. We went out many times -- having long discussions about Judaism. Because of him I started to learn some.

My family life was horrible. I tried to stay away from them as much as possible. I found myself creating a new family in the orthodox world. Keeping kosher and shabbos was a great excuse for me not to have to go home for holidays. I could diplomatically get out of most family events.

The problem was that I began to feel like I was a hypocrite. As much as I liked knowing so many people and always having plans for the weekend (Shabbat). I found myself loosing myself. I felt like I was a robot. Repeating what I was told to say, doing what I was told to do, being who I was told to be.

All of a sudden I realized that the new family that I created was very similar to the one I grew up with, except that I was not being physically or sexually abused.

I tried talking to my rabbi about my issues. He referred me to a psychologist who basically told me he didn't believe I was an incest survivor. I started feeling shunned as soon as I disclosed I was abused. I also started to feel like what ever I told my therapist was being leaked to my rabbi.

I used to be invited to shabbos meals all the time, yet suddenly when I disclosed my childhood history (to my rabbi) the invitations stopped coming. When I tried to talk about what I felt like was happening everyone told me that what I was saying was lashon hara.

A few months ago I moved out of the community that I have lived for the last few years of my life. I'm feeling lost and confused. I stopped keeping kosher and shabbat. The observant friends I thought would last a life time, no longer return my calls.

My life changed because I told my rabbi that I was sexually abused as a child.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ziporah - I am so sorry you were treated that way by people who pretended to be orthodox. I hope you can find a new "family" of real friends who accept you for who you are.

August 04, 2006 5:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can relate to your abuse history and your dissilusionment with the orthodox world. I feel for you!! Thank you for your courage in speaking out. There are plenty of wonderful religious people but unfortunately, it is not religion that makes people healthy or good. I recommend that everyone read the book "Off The Derech By Faranak....(I can't remember her last name.) It illustrates, just like your story, that when putting religion before people's basic emotional needs it pushes people off the derech and for good reason.

August 04, 2006 8:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel like you are writing about my own experiences. I walked away 3 years ago. It was hard adapting back into the secular world. I'm still very confused about a lot of things.

I'll be honest with you. I'm much happier now. I'm living my life for me instead of what was dictated to me by the community.

August 04, 2006 9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do we help survivors like Ziporah not feel like they are "robots"?

How do we help survivors feel like they belong in our communities?

August 04, 2006 10:41 AM  

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