Letter to the Editor
September 4th, 2009
Stop the chain!
Abuse is more common in the Jewish community than most people think it is. How can I say that? Well, I am a survivor of abuse, and including myself, I know of five people who were abused within a two-block radius. That is five people too many. Dov Hikind reported getting hundreds of calls from abuse survivors. This means there are probably thousands of Orthodox Jewish people who were or still are being abused.
The abuse that I suffered could have been entirely prevented if I had been educated about this topic at a young age. I went through the Bais Yaakov system and not one teacher discussed this topic. If I had been told the basics about the difference between good touch and bad touch, then my abuse wouldn’t have started in the first place.
As a result of not knowing, I suffered in silence for four terrible years. I am now traumatized for life. I get triggered every single day. Even just walking out of my house brings horrific memories to my mind. I now suffer every day from depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, andborderline personality disorder.
Schools need to teach their students about this topic. Parents also must be educated, especially about the warning signs and symptoms of abuse. Without knowledge, the chain just continues. Shoving the topic under the rug does not make it disappear. Is the Jewish community afraid that something terrible will happen if they educate their children? I asked my therapist why she doesn’t go to schools to teach children, on a basic level, about the topic of abuse. “Schools forbid me from coming,” she replied. Atrocities are being committed because Jewish children are not being educated on the topic of abuse.
The writer Guy Finley once said, “Trying to forget a fear is like trying to hold an inflated basketball under the water. It takes all of your strength and attention, and in time it must pop to the surface.” Making believe that abuse doesn’t occur in the Jewish community makes the situation worse. It rears its ugly head in other ways. For me, my body is covered in scars since that was the only way I knew how to deal with so much inner pain.
The chain can be broken if our Jewish children are educated. Education is the only road to prevention. Without education, the chain just continues. Do something about the situation. Stop the chain. Today.
Editor’s note: Name withheld by request due to the sensitive, highly personal nature of the letter.