Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The purpose of this letter is to give the community some insight of the ramifications of not taking sexual abuse seriously and victimizing the victim when abuse is revealed.
I am a mother of a child who has been sexually abused by her cousin. I will begin by saying I am part of a large prominent Chassidic family in the New York area. My family has been a warm, supportive, and caring family throughout my life until they were notified about the abuse that had happened in my home under my watch. My child was educated about sexual abuse, however she was too embarrassed and afraid to tell me.
When I contacted some members of my family to work out a solution quietly within the family, in order to guarantee my child’s safety I was told:
- Who said it’s true
- You’re breaking apart the family
- People sacrifice their child for the family’s reputation
- You snapped
- Nobody will marry your child
- You didn’t teach your child the laws of modesty
- If you report him then he will say “your husband molested him”
- Your child enjoyed it if she didn’t tell you anything
I pleaded for help and asked my family to go for professional help and Rabbinical advice along with me in order to resolve this tragedy as best as we were able to. I was ostracized, harassed, shunned, and they tried to tarnish my family’s reputation as well. None of my siblings (besides for one sibling) has ever called and asked me what happened or how can I help you, how is your child doing. No I do not hate my family, however I cannot understand them. They have hurt my family tremendously, however they have hurt the perpetrator even more by exposing his name to many more people due to my family having a bitter family feud, and by him being arrested.
Please educate you children about sexual abuse. Believe your child if he/she will tell you about any inappropriate touch. Tell them you will keep them safe versus I will have arrested any individual that touches you inappropriately because most molestation occurs within the family and children will not want their relative arrested. Parents educate yourself regarding child sexual abuse. A great book to read is “Breaking the Silence” by David Mandel and Dr. David Pelcovitz Ph.D.
Many Rabbanim will say to go to the authorities, however most will not let you use their name. If a Rav paskens not to report this heinous crime ask if he has personal experience with molestation and if not find a Rav who does.
Be wary of going to your local precinct. “Good meaning askanim” have a way with the police to get the case dropped even before an arrest can be made. Call the city special victims crime unit. They are highly trained in the area of sexual abuse within the Jewish community and they are sensitive to our needs.
Try to get a handful of people who are non-judgmental and will be available to listen (not advise) when you need to talk. In addition a licensed therapist who has special training on sexual abuse is a necessity for the parents as well as the victim (Victims need TF-CBT therapy).
A child that was abused and their parents stood beside them firmly and they went for proper help, and they overcame their trauma should be looked upon with respect. You can be sure they are stronger people and they will be more courageous parents then the average person. In addition should they encounter hardships within their marriage they will seek help immediately versus other people being passive about going to counseling.
Parents -if you withhold the help that a victim needs to heal due to the fear of shidduchim I have news for you. A victim that does not receive the proper help they need to overcome their trauma is bound to have many more issues such as anxiety, eating disorders, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and trust issues. Shidduchim will affect them anyhow. Your child will also never forgive you, or trust you. What will you answer them when they’re older and ask you “why you didn’t help me heal properly”. You will be responsible for your child’s blood.
Off the Derech:
Yes, I would be OTD from my trauma of victimizing the victim if not for the guidance of a Rav I’ve gone to helping me sort out my confusing thoughts with sensitivity and compassion. My emunah has been shattered due to my family’s betrayal. My family is considered a prominent upstanding family and yet they have harassed my Rav for guiding us as he did. How can people stick up for an act that the Torah forbid? Don’t ever judge a person who is struggling or who is not frum after being sexually abused. It’s your job to unconditionally love and support them.
- Get a proper evaluation fast. If in-patient rehab is needed go for it. You are ill. You are a danger to yourself and to others. People with cancer go oversees for months to get the best treatment, you should do the same.
- If it’s a family member – remember the victim’s feelings and safety comes first. If the family stands by the victims side unconditionally at all times the healing process will be quicker for the victim and for the extended family. The perpetrator deserves a consequence for his/her actions, however the family (besides the victim) should stand beside him/her while he/she is being “penalized” and rehabilitated for the crime they committed.
Many self-made “askanim” are guilty of victimizing innocent victims and their families, by terror tactics trying to silence them through methods of intimidation, threatening, and harassment. Beware, you’re playing with fire. Children’s lives and their future is at stake. How dare you pretend to help the victim by protecting the perpetrator! How many lives has the community lost to suicide, drugs, or OTD by such individuals who have their priorities all mixed up?
Silencing a victim by offering them money is terribly wrong. You are seriously hurting the victim as well as the perpetrator by enabling him to continue his perverted harmful actions.
Victims should never accept blood money for therapy from the perpetrators side without the proper legal guidance. If you ever decide to go to court at a later date, it can pose a problem. Reach out to organizations that help victims of sexual abuse. They understand your pain, frustration, feelings, and thoughts. You won’t be judged or told hurtful comments by them.
In my case, if not for the askan guiding my extended family to harass me, shun me, silencing my child my case would not have been in court. Take note, people are getting fed up with this terror tactic.
May G-d protect all of His children from being victims or being perpetrators against innocent children.
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