Thursday, January 24, 2008

Vicki Polin: She founded resource for sex abuse victims Vicki Polin
She founded resource for sex abuse victims
By Bryna Zumer
Owings Mills Times
January 24, 2008

Vicki Polin, a counselor specializing in sexual violence, noticed years ago that there seemed to be no Jewish resources for sex abuse victims, and she was uncomfortable referring them to Christian organizations, which she felt might proselytize them or be unable to speak to Jewish issues.

Before relocating to Israel in 2001, she attended Neve Yerushalayim, a women's college in Jerusalem, and saw that people who had been sexually abused had no place to turn.

"All these young women started telling me what happened to them," Polin said. "I started seeing what a problem it was."

A Chicago native, she moved to Baltimore in 2002 and, in 2003, launched the nonprofit International Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault, now known as The Awareness Center.
The organization's goal is to provide resources to victims and educate the general community, but Polin, an incest survivor herself, has also drawn controversy for posting information on alleged offenders, including many prominent rabbis, on the center's Web site.

"Our goal is education. It's not just about, 'Get this guy, get that guy,'" she said, explaining that many in the Orthodox world do not watch TV or read secular news, but have gained information from the center's Web site.

After she, together with a volunteer board of directors, began posting information on offenders, "survivors started saying, 'Why don't you have my story?' The same (victims) were talking about the same (offenders), and we started putting the pieces together."

Although more than 250 rabbis worldwide support The Awareness Center, critics have accused Polin of "lashon ha'ra," derogatory or damaging speech against another person, which Jewish tradition condemns.
"In some places, we're seen as heroes and in some we're seen as crazy or vindictive," she said.
After Polin received allegations against rabbis by a group that turned out to be linked to al-Qaida and was anti-Semitic, she posted resources on abuse for Christians and Muslims as well.

She also works with groups like The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, and, in addition to running the non-profit almost single-handedly, regularly testifies in court on behalf of victims of sexual violence.

The goal is not just to educate and reach out to victims, Polin said, but also to help abusers.
"There's no proven treatment for offenders. We don't know what to do, how to stop them," she said.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vicki's been an incredible resource for me and everyone who's been has been victimized with a sex crime.

Vicki, if you read this thank you for being there for me and my family.

January 24, 2008 5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article describes Vicki perfectly!

The only thing I think that's missing is the statement that Vicki has been leading survivors out of the Egypt of abuse and away from those enable offenders.

January 24, 2008 5:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great story!

May more good publicity come your way. Vicki and The Awareness Center only deserve the best.

January 24, 2008 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations Vicki - you certainly deserve some recognition!

Thank you for doing the work you do.

January 24, 2008 5:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only caveat I could see in the article was it implies that there are no resources in ISRAEL for sexual abuse survivors, because there are.

I think what was missing from what was said is that there are few resources for FRUM survivors to go to. I mean FRUM therapists who know what they are doing when it comes to sexual abuse or assault.

Good article!

January 24, 2008 5:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful and well deserved article.

It's sad to say it took a secular newspaper to write about honestly about Vicki and her organization. My prayer is that this will be the year that the Jewish community leaders finally embraces the awareness center.

January 24, 2008 5:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel so honored that I've known Vicki for so many years. She's a very special person.

I know how hard she's worked trying to keep our kids safe and to help those who have already been abused.

Thank you Vicki for doing the work you do.

January 24, 2008 5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so damned proud of you Vicki! Thank you for being a part of my life.

January 24, 2008 5:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad they are acknowledging and publicizing the Awareness Center.

Your hard work is obviously making a huge difference in the lives of so many survivors and their families.

January 24, 2008 5:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great article. Vicky has really made a difference in the world.

January 28, 2008 8:32 AM  

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