I cannot write more about my father and his rape. (for now)
This happens often in therapy - when I talk about a difficult subject and one that triggers many thoughts and emotions I can only do it in small increments. For the purpose of this blog I wish that I could continue to write with a flowing hand, and tell the whole story from beginning to end. I have noticed that I have done similarly with other stories that I have tried writing here and then had to stop because my emotions became overwhelming.
I want to finish the story, so that it becomes an experience which is outside of me, rather than taking up so much space in my inner self- mainly my neshoma. I have the urge to tell my story truthfully and as accurately as I can remember it, so that you, my readers will become part of my experience as a support.
As I write this, I am not entirely clear about what I mean, and I hope that I will understand more as I continue to write. I think I need people outside of myself to know, hear and understand what happened to me and how I experienced it.
The writing of it, and the reading of the story by you will afford me great comfort -as well as the fact that some of you will unfortunately be able to relate to the horror of what happens when a (frum) father rapes his daughter.
It is difficult to reconcile the idea that a father would perpetrate such acts on his own child- and it is even more difficult to accept that this is MY father and I am that child.
Most days I believe that "it" never happened.
I live better that way.
My life is better during the "not knowing" periods. I become a person with no past and I am just one of the people out there living their lives. Getting their kids ready for sleep away camp. Buying summer clothes, backpacks, flashlights and bug spray. I become the mother driving the car full of kids trying to get everything done before the start of camp.
It is good.
It is good to feel normal sometimes.
It is good to believe that you are just one more mom out there doing what needs to be done for her family.
But sometimes I wake up in the morning and I "know" that what my father did was real.
I "know" with a strong certainty that he forced me to become an adult when I was really just a little girl.
That "knowing" makes me feel sad and hurt deep inside myself.
It makes me feel that I am a bad person- and that there must be something intrinsically wrong with me. That I must have been born with a sign on my forehead that read "Please Rape Me"
The "knowing" fills my heart with a sorrow so deep that it feels as though it will grind a hole in my soul.
Anguish and pain become a part of me, and at night when I lay my head down to sleep it threatens to suffocate.
The "knowing" is so bad that it pushes me to wanting to not "know".
And so the not knowing days occur much more often than the knowing days.
I like them better.
I am happier and healthier.
I pray that the days of "knowledge" become less and less over time.
I wrote the following letter a few years ago. I put it in the "survivors letters" on Ad-Kan and I am posting it here too because this is where it belongs for now- I only wish i had the courage to actually send it.
I wish I had the courage to actually send this letter to you. I wish I had the courage to say these words face to face, but I don't so instead I write anonymously.
I have spoken to you before, but only in my head. I have things to say that I have never verbalized. There are words rushing around inside me, words which I have tried so hard to suppress, words I wish did not need to be said, words which cause my heart to stop just by thinking of them.
But today, they must come out. I will no longer allow these words to stay stuck inside like a festering wound.
This a long introduction, and I wonder if its because I am really loathe to put my feelings out there. Black and white. I am scared. I am frightened of how I will feel when I say these words to you. But I will. I will do it for myself. I will do it, because it must be done.
I will do it, because you can't hurt me anymore.
I am an adult. I have control, and I will not let you hurt me.
This is really difficult for me to say. But I am strong and I will say it.
There is a terrible rage deep inside my heart. An anger so profound that its intensity frightens me.
When I first recalled that it was you, I refused to allow my mind to believe it.
I called my therapist and told her that I cannot live and "know" at the same time.
If I "know" I die.
But I am alive.
And I "know".
She cared, and so I am alive.
She cared. A stranger.
You didn't care. My father.
As I write these words, a great tide of emotion wells up inside. Sadness.
Deep sorrow for the daddy I never had.
When I first remembered what you did to me, the worst feeling was the sense of betrayal.
I always wanted you to love me.
I wanted to be a little girl whose father cared about her.
But you didn't.
And you wouldn't.
You wouldn't get the help you needed so that your daughter could survive.
I thought I was special.
I believed that when you crept into my room at night that I was daddy's special little girl.
You loved me. Daddy you really loved me. Just not in the right way. and that bad love destroyed me.
I never had a chance after that.
You destroyed my Neshomo, because you couldn't control yours.
I was only five years old.
An innocent child.
You were a man.
And you destroyed me.
Your few moments of selfishness are my endless years of suffering.
You stole my childhood.
Every child deserves to be one, don't you think?
I believed I did not deserve even the most natural thing.
To be a child.
You took that part of me, and you can never give it back.
Why Daddy dear?
Why did you hate me so?
I was your baby daughter.
Don't you remember?
You said you loved me.
Don't you remember?
But you lied.
And you continue to lie.
I am nothing to you am I?
you don't even bother calling me anymore.
Is it because you are ashamed?
Are you scared I might tell someone?
Are you afraid of Hashems anger when you die?
Are you thinking of the punishment you deserve?
It is not too late Daddy.
I still love you, do you know that?
For all the pain and suffering you have caused, stupid me still cares about her selfish father.
I HATE myself for still needing you.
I am stupid and wicked for still wanting a daddy.
But I do.
I am full of rage, yet I still care about you.
There is still time father dear.
As long as you are alive there is time for forgiveness.
It might be too late.
I don't want you to be punished in Olam Haboh.
It might be too late.
This is how remember it;
I am lying in my bed.
I am six years old and I have a pile of library books next to my bed. I am an avid reader even at this young age. I love books because they save my life. I read the fairy tales and I pretend that I am Little red riding hood, or Goldilocks. When I imagine myself to be part of the books I don't have to think about what happens to me in the middle of the night. I try to stay awake as long as I can, because I am afraid to be asleep. Of course I always fall asleep in the end, no matter how hard I try not to.
The room is dark except for a sliver of moon which throws its streaks of light onto the pink walls of my bedroom. I wake up with a start and I see a shadow standing next to my bed. The shadow moves and sits down on the bed next to me. I lie very still, I do not move, my eyes remain closed and I try not to breathe.
All of a sudden I am no longer in my bed. Instead I am floating on the ceiling watching from above.
I look down and I see that the shadow sitting on my bed is my daddy.
What is daddy doing in my bed in the middle of the night?
I look closer as I see him move forward towards the little girl who is sleeping in the bed.
I know then what he is going to do, and I want to shout to the girl to get up and run, But it is too late. Daddy has already opened his robe and is leaning over the girls face. I watch in horror as white liquid drips out of her mouth. She gags and quickly sits upright so that she does not choke.
I am no longer floating.
I am back in my little white bed and my daddy is looking at me. From his eyes tears fall. He looks at me with hate and disgust. Inside myself I feel intense shame.
I know I have done something terribly wrong.
And I know that I have made my daddy cry.
I loved my grandfather. And I believed that he loved me in return.
Years later when I was a teenager and I went to visit a family member in a different part of the city, my grandfather who by now was a lot older traveled for a few hours to bring me gift - an expensive watch.
I felt so appreciative and cared for.
I had forgotten what he had done to me.
When the memories returned years later my sense of betrayal was horribly painful and overwhelming.
I began to doubt the veracity of my memories, until one day I spoke to my aunt (my mothers sister) who described being raped by her father.
After that I knew that what I remembered was true, and my trust in the human race was destroyed all over again.
I have not been able to come here since my last post.
The story I need to tell has been on my mind a lot. I am not only unsure how to tell it, but I think I am actually loathe to tell it in its terrifying entirety. Because of this I chose to distance myself from the blog for a few days- I have been "hiding" from you, but mostly from myself.
I have to begin somewhere, so here goes.
I was three years old when my grandfather who we called "papa" sat me on his lap, pulled up my sweater and fondled my body. Afterwards he took me into the room off the kitchen where food supplies were stored and lifting me up in his arms he handed me a bag full of nuts and candy.
"These are for you", he whispered,
"This is our special secret, dont tell anyone sweety, because you are papas special little girl"
I clutched the bag of candy to my chest and inside my heart swelled with happiness. I was special- more special than any of my sisters.
Papa had given only ME the bag of treats.
In my three year old mind I believed that the "secret" was the bag of sweets, not what he had done before he gave me the prize.
This was the first time it happened.
And after that time over the years I received many more bags of treats.
Looking back I believe that feeling betrayed by my grandfather was far worse than his stroking my undeveloped body and skin.
He tricked me into thinking that he loved me the most, and that the prizes he gave me were our own special secret.
My grandmother must have suspected something was going on, because she was always angry about the special relationship my grandfather and I had.
She would admonish him in front of everyone telling him not to give Debbie candies because it was not fair to the others. She had a bad temper and would pick on alot more frequently than the other grandchildren.
I wonder now years later if my grandfathers relatively "small" molestation was a precursor to my fathers rape. Please note that in no way am I minimizing what my grandfather did. If any of my readers experienced something similar or even less, please know that I believe it is horrible and can be extremely traumatizing to a young child.
For me in retrospect, so much worse happened in later years that sometimes I look back at the grandfather era, and I tell myself that it was a picnic in comparison to the rest.
However as I write these words, I realize that the betrayal was a terrible blow to my small ego. I trusted with all my heart that papa loved and cared about me.
Alas years later I understood that he loved my body and not much more.
It is a sad realization and a painful one too.
Up until 5 years ago, I truly believed that my relationship with my grandfather was the one relationship that I could say was happy and healthy!
What a cruel joke!
I do not know where to begin with my story of incest.
I think for now I will search through my pile of writing and see if I can come up with any pieces describing the abuse. Even though I wrote it about 4 years ago, at least it will be a good beginning.
Bear with me people.
This is not going to be an easy ride.
I will write about it because I want my readers to understand what it means to be molested by the very person you are supposed to trust.
I am sure many of you are aware of the consequences- unfortunately it is the people who do not read to read this blog who are the ones who really need to know what happens to a child who is being molested!
I share the followinbg email with you because it pin points exactly the problem that I have been trying for years to keep under wraps. I believed (unconsciously) that the incest I experienced happened so long ago, and because I feels as though it did not really happen and is dreamlike, I do not have to deal with it.
How naive and wrong am I.
Of course the abuse I suffered as a child is the very thing I need to confront in order to fully heal.
I must confess however that it seems a lot easier to analyse and share the story of the two abusive husbands I married. Admitting that my own father forced me to engage in oral sex at the age of 5, is far too horrific for me to contemplate. I would much rather believe that "it" never happened and that my father loved me the same as all the fathers' of my friends loved them.
Alas, deep down I know the truth.
I know it deep inside my soul.
Yet logically I can make no sense of it.
I realize though that as long as I do not own up to the fact that my father sexually abused me in a manner too horrible to even contemplate- I am doomed to a life of further abuse and suffering.
Thank you Benjamin for pushing the issue to the forefront.
3:52 PM (18 hours ago)
Debbie, I'm so glad this conversation is helping you.
I hear you about the kids, about how you need to take them into consideration when deciding upon a derech. I don't mean to pretend that I have the answers for you, but I do think it's good to remind you that you do have a choice; somehow, when a person realizes, "I've chosen to stay where I am", it makes things easier because you know that you were not forced to stay, but rather chose to stay.
'Choice' is a remarkably important concept for those of us who were controlled and abused at one point in life.
Certainly, you may post my email on your blog - and it's OK to print my name, if you care to.
I'd like to say one more thing, and if I've crossed a boundary here please just totally ignore me or tell me to mind my own business. I've noticed that you are currently focused on the abuse perpetrated upon you by your two ex-husbands - and that is fine. Nothing wrong with that. I'd just like to remind you (I'm sure you know this all too well) that the actual 'core issue' is the child abuse you experienced; the spousal abuse was an extension of that original abuse. It was, for instance, the child abuse history that 'allowed' you to stay with your abusive husbands for so long.
So, eventually, you will want to deal with the child abuse in therapy. Eventually. When you are ready. In the meantime, I might remind you that if you were to get involved with another man prior to dealing with the child abuse history, you could very well repeat history and end up with another abusive husband; we survivors tend to repeat ourselves until we deal with our core issues.
I hope you will hang on to my email address and write if you ever need support.
Hope that helps. I feel privileged to know you, and I wish you all the best.
I received the following email which I want to share with you, my readers.
The writers words had an enormous impact on me, as I realized that writing this blog is indeed a positive thing. I have been feeling very doubtful lately if I am in fact doing the right thing by writing my most intimate experiences in a public forum such as this.
Is it Loshon Hora, even though I remain anonymous?
Am I cheapening my personal experiences by sharing details with such a wide audience?
Will my children exper negative outcome in direct consequence of my blog?
And on and on, questions and doubts swirl around my brain.
I suppose in the end there is no right or wrong answer.
I am just doing what I feel I have to do.
9:17 PM (19 hours ago)
I've been reading your blog, and I just wanted to write and thank you.
I am a survivor, an advocate, and an ex-mesivta/yeshiva teacher from Monsey. I am now frei and living in California, where there are only a relative handful of Orthodox Jews, the vast majority of whom are extremely liberal MO. I get sick when I lay tefillin, I cannot stand to go to shul. I have severe PTSD and depression.
Ten years ago, I caught one of my students molesting his sister; on one occasion, I was even called to his home by the children in order to save their mother, and I pulled my student off his mother as he attempted to rape her. My efforts to help the children and the mother were all for naught, though, as the rabbonim and family of the molester protected my student from prosecution. I was marginalized for turning the molester over to CPS and the police - even though I had witnessed some of the events in question.
Although the rabbonim claim that they protect suspected molesters because there are never any witnesses to the molestation events, that is clearly not true, as even when there are witnesses (such as in the case I just mentioned), the rabbonim continue to protect the molesters.
Thoughts of the yeshiva velt make me sick. The lack of appropriate rabbinic response upsets me even more than knowing about the molestations. This is the reason I can no longer stomach the haredi world. Now I am frei but I still hurt.
I read your blog because it is somehow healing to read your story where it is out in the open for the whole world to see. I come to Adkan periodically to look at the pictures of the abusers; how liberating it is to see these names and faces! The rabbonim have denied us this right - the right to see our abusers and molesters openly named - for far too long.
Some day, the rabbonim will be forced to adapt halachah, to change our world for the better - to actually support victims rather than perpetrators! - due to blogs such as yours.
Yasher koach. I am sorry I didn't write earlier. Keep up the good work. We victims and advocates are grateful for your efforts. You are very brave!
Thank you all for your really helpful comments.
Things remain the same except for two things.
He took my daughter out last week and bought her a $300 watch for her graduation.
She was dumbfounded and ecstatic all at the same time. He actually gave it to her with no strings attached which I have never witnessed before now.
The second thing is that I am feeling very down and very tired.
I feel like sleeping all day.
I dont want to think about anything.
Not the future or the past, and definitely not the present.
This feeling is familiar and I hate it with the utmost of hate.
I have no energy to write and no energy to do or think.
I know this feeling will pass, and I will very shortly be back to my old bubbly self.
I just hope I wont have to wait too long.