Sunday, September 30, 2007

When You’re An Incest Survivor and the "Windows" Legislation - By Vicki Polin

When You’re An Incest Survivor Download pdf
© (2007) By Vicki Polin, MA, NCC, LCPC, ATR-BC - Executive Director, The Awareness Center, Inc.

The article was originally presented at a News Media Event - Calling for State and National Laws Lifting Statute of Limitations of Survivor Lawsuits at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law - Yeshiva University, on September 25, 2007


Blogger Doc Deb said...

Thank you for supporting this legislation. As a Jewish survivor of incest, when I finally received the help I needed to recover, I was unable to file suit becuase the statute of limitations expired for me. Since that time, the state of Colorado has enacted legislation to remove the statue of limitations. Now my work is focused on helping others recover at

September 26, 2007 1:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting your story. It brought tears to my eyes. I know exactly what you are talking about. I went through something very similar. Thank you so much for surviving!

September 26, 2007 1:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know what it's like to lose your whole family because you told the truth about incest. Thank you for being there for us!! A gratefull survivor.

September 27, 2007 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would add that when you are an incest survivor who has been cut off, it's difficult to explain to your friends why you don't go home for holidays. You end up making up stories or let them think you went home and spend the time alone curled up in a ball crying, wishing your fantasy family was real.

September 27, 2007 9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hope you read this. Thanks so much for lending your strong voice to Marci Hamilton's call for action. It could not have been easy for you, and I admire you for doing it.

September 27, 2007 9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, very moving, thank you so much for sharing that.

September 27, 2007 9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this article with great sadness. I admire Vicki so much for her courage and dedication. Please keep up your wonderful work. It benefits all survivors. You are in my prayers. Bless you in all of your efforts.

September 27, 2007 9:14 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I was there on Monday and I want you to know that Vicki did great presentation. I was touched by her story.

September 27, 2007 9:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I hope you read this. Thanks so much for your presentation. I hope you know how much we support your brave efforts. Your words brought tears to my eyes.

September 27, 2007 9:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well done!! You were speaking my words

September 27, 2007 9:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate to what Vicki said. I also have not seen any of my family members in many years. The sad part of this is that my children have never met their grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins.

They know my husbands family but not mine.

September 28, 2007 7:28 AM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

Vicki was so brave to speak out on this on Tuesday.

September 28, 2007 7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read this article and it mimics my life. I thought I was the only one who lost their family because they refused to recant their lives.

Thank you so much for posting this!

September 29, 2007 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vicki is beautiful inside and out. Thank you for sharing such a personal story with the world. You give me courage and hope.

September 30, 2007 3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vicki, My entire family, too, cut me off many year ago. Initially, it was the most painful, isolating, surreal experience. Yet, now I am GRATEFUL every day that I had the strength of spirit and basic good mental health to accept their rejection and to stay AWAY from all of them. While it may have been difficult to be prevented from confronting and suing your family abusers, there is a positive side as well -- you will never have to reengage with these toxic, sick, destructive people again. (Just think about the deposition process -- YUCK!) At one point I pictured myself being tossed from a life raft by my family and watching them drift away -- not realizing they had in fact SAVED my life by doing so. I think of them as living in a different reality that has absolutely no relevance to the life I lead now. I have no idea if they are alive, dead, married, divorced, sick or living the high life -- it simply is not my concern, responsibility or something I can/want to do anything about. And my life goes on - thank God! May you go from strength to strength in your advocacy and personal life in 5768.

September 30, 2007 7:43 PM  
Anonymous Zahava said...

To Anonymous 7:43PM,

I agree with you 100%, but the issue isn't so cut and dry. I miss my family. It's only been five years since I've seen my parents, brother and little sister.

Over the last five years my zadie passed away. No one told me. I learned about his death about a month after he died. I wasn't given the opportunity to go to his funeral. If I knew he was sick I would have gone to the hospital to spend time with him. I never got the chance to tell him I loved him and let him know what a special person he was to me.

Holidays are the worst. I go to other people's homes, yet it's not the same. I miss my bubbie's special cake. I miss my father's silly stories he would tell.

I also learned from a friend that my sister got married and had a baby.

There's a lot that I don't miss, but there's a great deal that I am still mourning.

September 30, 2007 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't agree with "Anonymous 7:43PM"

I understand where you are coming from, yet I'll be perfectly honest with you. I want my day in court. I'm not afraid of a deposition. I can bet that my parents would be. Maybe Vicki feels the same way as I do.

I personally don't think a civil suit is about the money. I think it's about making child molesters accountable for their actions. It's a way of saying "NO, you can't get away with this any longer".

As a child I had the right to be raised in a loving home. One in which I wasn't abused. Parents are supposed to protect you, not abuse you.

Filing a civil suit is one way to let parents of today know loud and clear that if they abuse their children they will pay for it in the future.

I personally feel that filing a civil suit is not for everyone, yet it should be an option available at anytime someone who was sexually abused as a child has for the rest of their life.

September 30, 2007 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am the Anonymous @ 7:43PM. I AGREE 110% that victims should be able to sue their abusers, who should be held accountable civilly, if not criminally. I hope new laws are passed. I was responding to Vicki (and others) who may never have the opportunity to confront their family members/abusers in court. In that case, it is important for victims to continue on: with living a new, different kind of life, with healing, getting beyond feelings of frustration with the law, a sense of once again feeling betrayed, powerless, etc. I was sharing with Vicki a perspective that has helped me do that. Also, to Zahava, I completely empathize with you: frankly, at the five year point, I still missed my family and the memories of good times were painful. But when I read how your family did not tell you about your grandfather's illness, etc., it says to me what a heartless, cruel group they are to want to hurt you in those ways. They are bad news. You deserve so much more from the people you have in your life! And time does help alleviate some of the sadness and sting of being rejected. all the best.

September 30, 2007 10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to tell you that I'm upset with what anonymous @ 7:43PM said.

I personally do not feel it's possible to just "move on". I'm sure that if you were a survivor of incest that it would gnaw at you from time to time. Especially, when holidays come up or it's your parents birthday, etc.

I'm not a victim. I may have been victimized as a child, but today I am a survivor.

Look back at the holocaust. Are those who survived the holocaust called "holocaust victims"?

No they are called survivors. The only people who we refer to as victims are those who were murdered by the Nazi's.

Unfortunately there are way to many victims of child sexual abuse who are either strung out on drugs or have committed suicide. I am not hooked on drugs or am I dead.

Those who believe that they can just "move on" are those who are clueless to what it's like to be molested by family members. The pain may not be as severe as it was when I first either left my family or was cut off. . . yet it's still there. I honor and respect it. It's a major loss. Something that I will mourn from time to time. The pain may not be as deep, yet it's still there.

I think Vicki is an extremely brave woman who has shared some pretty damn personal stuff with the world.

I have to admit that I really admire her for taking the things that pains her and making them public. She transforms them into something we can all learn from.

Even if Vicki is never able to get her day in an actual court, I think she's able to have her story heard and we all can be the judge of what happened to her in her childhood.

October 01, 2007 7:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you are all coming down to hard on anonymous @ 7:43PM. I think she's speaking from her own experiences and what works for her.

October 01, 2007 8:03 AM  
Anonymous It hurts! said...

I'm reading all of this and trying to take it all in. I have been feeling very much alone and depressed lately. The holidays are a time in which families get together. It's a time of the year that I'm not one of the lucky who have family to go to.

For awhile I was becoming religious, yet stepped away from it all. It was too hard to be in a room filled with people catching up with each other about what their family members were doing. I also couldn't handle being in shul and everyone hugging and kissing their relatives hello and goodbye.

I wanted to find a way to connect with Hashem, yet it became to intolerable for me. Judaism is about your relationship with G-d, yet when you can't even have a relationship with your family how are you supposed to know how to connect with G-d?

October 01, 2007 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reading Vicki's story really touched my soul.

I do have to say that Vicki left out A VERY IMPORTANT part.

There has been an important development in her character due to the pain, confusion, rejection and abuse.

She has mobilized herself enough to produce a courageous and necessary service to people who have been abused and the whole Jewish community as a whole.

Of course, innovators and real leaders always have enemies. The orthodox community does not want their corruption and impotence exposed. This is no different from Vicki's struggle to expose her experience with her family.

It is extremely painful to lose one's family. The sexual abuse experience is so similar to the experience of survivors of the holocaust. I know this to be true from my own life. We were debased, abused and lost our complete families.

Many of us could not reconstitute ourselves BUT SOME DID LIKE WEISENTHAL, ETC.

In that manner Vicki has turned a disaster into a creative service that few would have the courage and or stamina to pursue.

Vicki please keep it up You are a necessary part of healing the world.

October 01, 2007 12:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to respond to everyone who posted something here. I can relate to everyone. I've also stepped away from being observant. When I see people who look observant it reminds me of my family. When I attempt to daven I break down in tears. I used to try to only date Jewish men, but everyone seems to know my family one way or another. I'm currently dating someone who is "born again".

I wish I knew the answers for everyone. I just try to stay away from things that trigger painful memories. My life is wonderful as long as I do that.

October 01, 2007 8:59 PM  

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