I just received the following letter with permission to post it. It raises a very important question - how to react to the shame of abuse. While the solution offered by Rav Oshry is to use abuse as a badge of honor - I really find it hard to belief that the women involved would accept it as such. I also don't see most abuse victims being proud of their degradation - at least not as far as publicizing it. They obviously can take pride in the fact that they are able to function in spite of it and perhaps have a highly developed sense of empathy with others because of it. Obvious Yerachmiel Lopin disagrees. I would like some feedback from others. This is not a theoretical question. I also posted Rav Oshry's tshuva.
Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,
I would like to request that you post a responsum of great relevance to the problem of molesting.
I am referring to the tshuvah of R. Oshry about eshes ish and removing a tattoo for a couple rejoined after the holocaust. She had been impressed into prostitution in a concentration camp and had a tattoo “a whore of Hitler’s Armies.” As I remember it (having read it in English over 2 decades ago) the psak was to treat her as a woman who cried out based on the assumption that ‘no Jewish daughter would have willingly consorted with those who were murdering her Jewish brothers and sisters.’
He forbade the removal of the tattoo for the usual reasons regarding needless injury to a body but offered words of chizuk about the tattoo which touched me and may touch many who were abused in our communities. The words escape me but they may have been along the lines “wear it with pride as a sign that we triumphed over those reshoim.’ I think we now have thousands of Jews who also need to know they can proclaim the triumph of their survival in spite of the reshoim who molested them.
The alternative is silence motivated by shame. The shame leads to suicides, and many other problems. In truth the shame should fall only on their abusers. The victims should feel free to speak to their abuse if it helps them heal.
If you would post this wise and powerful psak with an English translation it might help give yad v’shem to those who were violated. Implicitly they did cry out and no one listened.
Feel free to post my request, or to name me or just to leave me out of this. But I hope you will give serious consideration to this request.