The letter I received and published from a survivor of incest - has attracted many readers and a number of comments. It as a sensitive and cogent expression of the complexity of the horrific reality of abuse in our communities. I have done a lot of thinking about her questions and how to respond to them. I am not going to complete that task today but simply want to summarize the issues she presents and then perhaps tomorrow to suggest some answers. I want to make sure I understand her letter properly.
She describes herself as a woman from a distinguished Orthodox Jewish family. Her father's sexual attacks happened when she was a child - and due to the resulting trauma - the memory of the rape was suppressed until after she got married. She was not protected or comforted from this rape nor did she receive therapy when it was discovered - apparently therapy started only many years later when she was married for a number of years. She is now living a good and productive life - but at the cost of living a lie regarding her past and being alienated from her family. Part of her concern is that if she had been fully aware of the abuse and if it became public knowledge due to the arrest of her father - she would not have gotten such a good shidduch. Therefore her question comes down to the costs-benefits analysis of having her father arrested for his horrible crime or whether it is better to live a lie in regards to the past - and have a good future?
The tenor of the letter seems to presuppose that there is either a choice of calling the police and having everything exposed and the possibility of a normal life forever destroyed or covering up abuse and learning to live a good life publicly while privately suffering the painful consequences of being a victim of incest.
I hope to show that the response to abuse is more varied and nuanced. [To be continued]