Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Child abuse book: Interview with Dr. Asher Lipner - psychologist

The following are comments that are part of a recent interview of Dr. Asher Lipner - a prominent psychotherapist dealing with sexual abuse . The rest of the interview was published in the public media. Dr. Lipner sent them to me with permission to publish them here.

What do are your thoughts on R. Daniel Eidensohn's book on child abuse? 

 For full disclosure, let me say I played a role in the book's publication both by writing a chapter and by editing parts of the book.  It is an incredible labor of love put together by a man who truly cares about the Jewish people.  It examines the issues of domestic violence and child abuse from so many angles with sophistication, depth and compassion.  It is Torah scholarship at its best, as Rabbi Eidensohn is able to bring complex Torah ideas down to simple utilizable tools to be used to protect women and children. 

 What are some of his conclusions?

That there is a mitzvah to confront abuse in order to protect others, and that each one of us has this obligation.  That sex crimes need to be reported to the police without any halachic concern about the misconstrued concept of Mesira that does not apply.  That more open discussion must take place in the community with less concern about "immodest speech" in discussing the problem, and more concern with the grossly immodest behavior the problem represents.  That obsessive concern about stigma and shidduchim has wreaked havoc on the emotional, physical and spiritual well-being of generations of our children and needs to stop.  And perhaps most importantly, that where there is a communal will there is a way stop this problem and protect our children.

 How do you differ on issues with him?

 We do not differ significantly in what we believe the community needs to do.  We differ only in our roles.  Reb Daniel is blessed with a close personal relationship with some of the biggest rabbis in Israel, and he works tirelessly to create a dialogue between them and mental health professionals and lawyers to address the issue.  He does this by acting with the highest level of sensitivity to the cultural, societal and even political realities that working together with the Charedi leadership requires.

 I am just a simple Jew who works “in the trenches” day to day with survivors of abuse and their families, helping them repair their broken lives. My methodology of advocating for them is often not as sensitive to the communal norms and regular “business as usual”.  Sometimes I need to help the survivors scream out their pain in any way they can, even if it offends the community’s sensitivity.  Being that there is an alarmingly high suicide rate among survivors of sexual trauma, in some cases this "do whatever it takes to get people to listen" approach has been necessary in order to literally save lives.



  1. Kol Hakavod to you!!! Really!!

  2. Admirer of Jersey GirlJanuary 19, 2011 at 7:24 AM

    And welcome back to you Jersey Girl! Great to see you are still around.

  3. "... there is an alarmingly high suicide rate among survivors of sexual trauma."

    At least sometimes, not in the least metaphorically, suicide is the ending of one's 'life' when one's 'חיים' has already been all-but-destroyed by others. The recent dangerous turbulence in the Orthdox blogosphere might perhaps have been avoided had there been more attention directed upon the quiddity of 'חיים' and upon the fulness of "לא תרצח!". This is beyond the competence of the mental-health professions, who cannot stand-in for חכמי ישראל.


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