By: Surie Herskovics
August 20, 2012
(Surie Herskovics is a freelance writer and advocate for victims of sexual abuse within the Orthodox Jewish Community)
It is quite shocking that the knee jerk reaction of the K’lal is automatically conditioned to be appalled at accusations and feel sorry for the accused without first thinking for even a moment about the horrendous implications for the victim. Let me back up a second, that is if the accused is another member of the K’lal of course. However, if the same victim is abused, attacked or molested from a secular Jew or a non-Jew then of course they are believed immediately and there is uproar in the community. How dare they touch one of our own? How dare they violate this entire community?
Did I say shocking? Truly I meant reprehensible. It is still the same ben or bas Yisroel who was violated, humiliated, hurt, abused, used, disgraced, harassed, threatened and victimized and by turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to their pain and their truth YOU, yes ALL of YOU, their brothers and sisters, neighbors, friends, teachers, mechanchim, Rabbonim and role models who choose NOT to believe them are victimizing them all over again. You not only double their pain, you compound it over and over again on a daily basis for each and every one of you who don’t believe them and worse who support the abuser.
You who so nonchalantly make obtuse comments like “look who the accuser is….”. So why don’t we take a look at who the accusers are? But first lets take a look at who the abusers are. What do you really think an abuser looks like? Do you think an abuser walks around with a sign on them that says “Be smart, stay away from me, I am an abuser”? Do you think an abuser has a certain look about them? Do you think they LOOK like the scum of the earth that they are?
An abuser looks like……..a father, a brother, a neighbor, an uncle, a cousin, a friend, a grocer, a baker, a sofer, a plumber, a school bus driver, a rebbe, a singer, an accountant, a lawyer, a computer geek, an author, an artist, a cop, the person that sits next to you on the bus, the train or next to you in shul. It could be anyone and there is no way for you to know from the way they look, the way they speak, or the way they act in public. So just because you know the accused you can’t vouch for them in any way, shape or form. Because you are NOT with them 24/7; you are NOT their shomer, and you are not in their head. Would you have believed that the Principal of a girls’ yeshiva would be molesting his own daughters at home; not only he but his sons as well? Lets understand this and understand that this happens. It really happens even though we don’t want to believe this. It is a horrendous thing to think about and to have to believe about people. But there are countless numbers of children and adults who had gone through this in their own homes, who feared their own rooms and beds because of this.
A few years ago I spoke to a man from Williamsburg who was running for a political position. I asked him what he planned to do about the molestation issue. He looked at me curiously. Then he said, “Some of his son’s best friends were molested”. I was shocked. He said it as if it was a right of passage and an accepted form of child rearing. I of course asked, “You knew your son’s friends were molested and you did nothing?” I was shocked.
Lets understand that what happens in the outside world happens in our world too. We are all human and our people succumb to yetzer horah the same as all human beings do. We are afflicted with the same illnesses as outside our society. And just because it hurts us and it feels dirty and makes us uncomfortable we can’t just ignore it in hopes that it will go away. It doesn’t go away, it gets worse. If we really want it to go away, we have to acknowledge it, address it and work on it to make it go away.
So now lets look at the accusers, the victims. Abusers never choose victims that anyone would believe. Get it? Let me say that again, abusers/molesters choose their victims very, very carefully. They look for the most vulnerable victims. Who would you believe if they came forward? Would you believe the Rosh Yeshiva’s child? Probably, right? That’s why they would never prey on the R”Y’s children. Would you believe the children of the wealthiest man in the neighborhood? Those kids are pretty safe. Would you believe the kids from the most dysfunctional family in the neighborhood? No? Why not? Oh, you would say, the family is all mixed up, the kid is probably lying. That is the kid he befriends. That is the kid he grooms and goes after, because he knows that if the kid tells, no one will believe him. How do you feel now about not believing the child? How do you feel now about being tricked by the abuser even before he attacked the child? He was thinking about YOU first. He was thinking about how to fool YOU before even choosing the victim. His thought process was first how to FOOL THE OLAM so he can get away with it.
That is the mindset of the molester. He plans everything out. He plans about tricking all of his supporters, and he plans on molesting his victims. He doesn’t just do it happenstance. He is a phony, a pretender, a trickster and monster. But YOU think you know him, not the molester, of course not, the one he pretends to be. You all know the saying: you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can’t fool Hashem. Hashem is all seeing and all knowing. Da Lifnei Mi Atah Omed! We all stand before Hashem 24/7. HE does not take vacation, lunch breaks or coffee breaks. He sees everything. And without a doubt he does not turn away for 20 minutes while these so called “tzadikim” and “chashuva” people do their dirty crimes. HE will not forgive or forget like YOU are all so willing to do.
There is a reason why more and more victims/survivors are gaining the courage to come forward and that is only because Hashem is imbuing them with that courage. Without Hashem’s help there is no possible way that they could do it. Without their emunah and bitachon that Hashem would help them, there is no way that they would risk exposing themselves in such a fashion. What do they gain from this? Do you ask yourselves this? Why are they coming forward? To save other children from these monsters, to put them out of business and to save others from going through the nightmares and torture that they themselves went through. Could you do that? Could you be such a hero? Yes hero, because they have suffered terrible repercussions for doing what they are doing. Would you want your personal business exposed for all to see? Do you think it is an honor to walk around with a flag that proclaims I am a victim or survivor of abuse? Do you know how emotionally damaging being victimized like that is? Do you have any idea how one’s world is turned upside down by such trauma? Try to imagine just being frightened by someone breaking into your home and then magnify that a million times. Would you enjoy being controlled, abused, manipulated and threatened and being forced to keep that all to yourself with no one to turn to? Now imagine that it was your innocent young child going through that and you not even knowing. These victims/survivors are putting themselves on the line to try and save YOUR kids from it happening to them.
Personally I take tremendous offense to all the shmutz and lies that are made up to shmeer the reputation of these victim/survivors. Personally it makes me sick when people vouch for the abusers even though they don’t know them and certainly cannot vouch for them because they weren’t there when the abuse took place. Only the abuser and his victim were present and the only other witness was Hashem. Of course as each victim of the same abuser comes forward, it becomes more and more ridiculous how the K’lal finds more reasons to find fault with the logic that we must protect others from him, but finds reasons to back him and call the victims liars. The ridiculous question “were is the evidence?” The evidence is the eyewitness reports from the victims. Do you really think the molester is going to invite guests to watch what he does so there can be witnesses or leave evidence behind? Does a thief leave a thank you note at the bank he robs?
The bottom line is this. Our children are way too important to play this very dangerous and foolish game. Adults with this illness have a choice. They can get help for themselves before they go out and hurt innocent victims or they can act on their taivos and hurt others. That is their choice. Victims have no choice. They don’t choose to be victims. They don’t ask to be abused and victimized. We as a society have a choice too. WE can face the truth and support the victims in these cases and teach ALL these abusers that WE will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. This will send a clear cut message to all those with the same inclination to get help for themselves and stay away from our kids; because we will believe the kids and we will NOT protect the molester, we will remove them from society no matter who they are.
Right now the case in front of us is very clear-cut if you choose to believe the truth. It is unfolding right before our very eyes. If we choose to ask the appropriate questions then there is no doubt that the victim is telling the truth and that the accused has a lot to hide. Many violations are right out in the open beginning with Yichud. Any frum man who can violate the laws of Yichud cannot be trusted in any way, shape or form in my humble opinion. There is more than one victim stepping forward at this time. IMHO, the community is really trying to support and protect the school more than the molester and feel that they are doing so by supporting him first. It is very questionable why a girl’s yeshiva who won’t even hire male teachers in an environment where they can be supervised would send a young vulnerable girl to be counseled by an untrained, unlicensed, unsupervised “male” counselor. He was neither required to counsel her in the school nor in her home, but was permitted to do as he pleased which was at his discretion in his very “private” office without the benefit of a secretary (shomeres), or on road trips. This is right out of Monstrowitz training books. Obviously the school can and most likely will be considered an accomplice to the crimes since they forced these sessions on the child and family with the threat of expulsion. As of this time, the school has not complied with the request from the court for documents; they are at risk for contempt of court. The question remains what are they hiding and why are they not cooperating? In what way do those documents compromise them? Furthermore, in what way are they complicit in the crime?
Additionally, the latest information released by the accused’s attorney to the court is a claim that the victim is only seeking revenge for the accused “guiding” the father to make a video of an alleged inappropriate encounter the young girl had. This is another eye opener. If there were any truth to this at all, why would the accused be in possession of such a tape and not the father himself? Why in the world would the father allow him to hold on to it, and what right would he have had to hold on to such a video? If this video truly exists what has he been doing with this video since he took possession of it. Why did he hold on to it if he was no longer connected to her? This is truly the most vulgar and the most disgusting evidence of all. It truly reflects the truth of his crude inclinations and intentions. Any decent human being would have destroyed it or at least returned it to the parent when he stopped “counseling” their child, or in the best scenario suggest to the father to rent a safe deposit box and keep it off premises. But to keep it himself only proves what a menuval he truly is.
It is sad that any frum attorney would stoop this low and engage in such a chilul Hashem.
This victim and her family have suffered enough by the hands of her abuser, her former school and her community. Every person who chooses to support her in any way will be doing a tremendous chessed and mitzvah not only for her but also for themselves in the fight against this horrible machlah in our society.
Some tips for protecting your kids:
· Put labels with your cell numbers in your kids’ shoes, coats and knapsacks so they can call you in an emergency or if lost.
· Teach them if anyone claims that Mommy or Tatty sent them to pick them up to ask for their cell phone and call to verify
· After pre-school when there are no longer 3 to 4 teachers in the class, teach your boys that they are never allowed to sit on the Rebbe’s lap, if asked they are to say “my mommy doesn’t let”.
· Teach the boys to maintain 6 inches of body space. If the Rebbe pats back, or shoulders, give a handshake and say “my mommy doesn’t let”.
· Explain “good touch, bad touch” and personal space to all children.
· Explain the “buddy system” and never going off alone with anyone, ANYONE for any reason
· Adults don’t need help from children, if an adult tries to call you to their car or house keep walking away very quickly
· If kids separate from their parents accidentally teach them to go over to women with children for help
· Teach your kids if someone makes them feel uncomfortable they should stay away from them.
· If your boys go to the Mikveh use a buddy system. Never go alone, and one watches the other while they toivel and immediately hands them a towel (and of course never linger there).
· And the most important rule is NEVER, EVER KEEP SECRETS FROM MOMMY!
· All rules apply for camp and school, for home and away. As far as camp is concerned. If anything happens at camp, tell your kids to go to the camp nurse, she is a mandatory reporter.