Monday, July 30, 2012

Feeling Hopeless, a Tisha B'Av Writing

I just received the following letter with an attachment which I am publishing here.
Guest Post: I have been following your blog for quite some time now, and I feel really grateful for all the postive work you are doing. I was wondering if you would be ok with posting the attached letter that I wrote this Tisha B'Av on your blog.  Many thanks. 


  1. Thank you for this letter. I am not as learned and experienced as R' Eidensohn, or the author of this heart-rending post, but my humble opinion is that the grandfather should be in prison. If he has repeatedly molested several children, he deserves prison as punishment. If he might be doing it now or he might do it in the future to another child, prison is required to stop him. If putting him in prison will 1) tear your family apart, so that half of the family won't speak to the other half; 2) lower your standing in the community so you have to move to another city to have a tranquil life and get your kids shidduchim; 3) be a long and hard process of legal proof, etc., then it's very understandable that he hasn't be prosecuted. But -- would all those things be worth it to save one individual from being molested? One who saves one person, it is as if he saved an entire world (Gemara). In a place where there is no man, be a man (Avot).

    Regardless of what you choose to do, may Hashem heal you and your family, protect all the children of your family from this abuser, and give you or your family members the insight and strength to do the right thing.

  2. Don't worry. Your pedophile grandfather will not be around forever. No reason to feel hopeless.

    1. The author wont be around forever either. Neither will his father. Or children.

  3. It sounds to me like this bas Yisroel has done all the right things. Therapy has helped her situation, and she has warned her family members, in accordance with Shabbos 54b: "If one could protest against the evil deeds of his household [and it would help] but he does not, he is punished for their sins; If one could protest against the evil deeds of his city, or of the entire world, but he does not, he is punished for their sins." The letter writer reminds me of Tamar, daughter of Dovid HaMelech, raped by her half-brother Absalom. Tamar protested, and as a result, today we have hilchos yichud. Yasher koach.

  4. Sick sick individual.
    Call the police and inform on him. The game of charades can come to an end.

  5. Recipients and PublicityJuly 30, 2012 at 6:47 AM

    Dear "Guest Post" writer and others caught in the same situation. You need to realize something. As long as you do not reveal the name of the molester, in this case your grandfather, you are enabling him to continue to cause ongoing damage in your family.

    If this is the way you feel (i.e. "hopeless") then the only way to regain any hope, and hopefully save other innocent victims, is to publish the name of your grandfather, and get it out in the open once and for all. Nothing less than "lancing the boil" and letting out the pus, by exposing this "Dracula" to the healing sunlight, will bring this "menuval birshus HaTorah" to a complete halt!

    You don't even have to reveal your name (you as a victim deserve anonymity) but ways can be found to publicize the name of your grandfather by contacting a blog or news-site that deals with this offense (and as you say, you have been following this blog for a long time, so you would know what to do.)

    Of course, if you have been following this blog, you would also know that you do not need a "heter" to report your grandfather to the police because he is a clear and present and ongoing danger that cannot be stopped, or to ask the therapists (as a mandated reporter) that you are seeking help to report the abuse he inflicted on you and that you know for a fact he has and is still inflicting on other children in the family. This blog has often posted the advice and rulings of Rav Moshe Shternbuch in this regard that where there is immediate danger, as you know this first-hand from yourself and from your relatives who are being abused, then one can go to the police to report the matter and get it to stop immediately. If there is a fire in your house, you don't call your rabbi, you call the fire-department ASAP to put the fire! When it is pikuach nefesh and if you delay and Ch"V something happens, you are to blame as well.

    Think of it differently, if your grandfather was sticking a scary sharp knife 12 inch into you and your relatives, not enough to maim or cause severe bleeding, but just enough to cause a little pain and a small amount of bleeding, would you allow this and accept it and say it will "hurt shidduchim" or would you report it right away, probably have him arrested and sent to a mental ward, for brandishing a dangerous weapon, mutilating your body (no matter how "tolerable" the cuts and thrusts), for inexcusable sadistic, cruel and dangerous behavior. People get reported for giving their kids "spankings" so why is this case of sexual abuse overlooked, it's far worse, especially now that you know better.

    By remaining silent, you are part of the cover-up. Be brave and find a way to break the conspiracy of silence that will finally tear down your grandfather's HYPOCRITICAL mask and reveal him for what he is, a "dirty old man" and free you up from the guilt trip he's put on you guys like a wizard's bad spell, and then you could feel more hopeful again!

    1. You don't know all of the facts, so you have no right to judge the author.

    2. Recipients and PublicityJuly 31, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      betzalel said: "You don't know all of the facts, so you have no right to judge the author."

      Who said I knew "the facts" (beyond what the writer stated), and who says I am "judging" the author. I am expressing my opinions in reaction to, and based on, what the writer is saying.

      Please be more specific in your critique, rather than just throwing out a desultory and meaningless one-liner.

  6. Dear Guest poster,

    thank you for writing this letter and congratulations for the courage and sechel you had to make those observations and overcoming the damage that was done to you. I wish you much strength and the capability of enjoying the enjoyable things in life despite all this monster did to you.

    Dear blog author
    Thank you for posting this letter and giving it a public forum.

  7. dear rap and other commentators:

    It is very easy, when you are not in the situation, to tell someone else what to do. you will not have to deal with the rejection from the family and perhaps the entire community, even if you try to remain anonymous. You will not be told by police (or a judge or DA) that the statute of limitation is over and that they cannot do anything for you. You will not have to live with ostracising for the coming years.

    1. Recipients and PublicityJuly 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM

      sarah said: "dear rap and other commentators: It is very easy, when you are not in the situation, to tell someone else what to do."

      RaP: Dear Sarah, I don't think anyone commenting or reading the sad words of this letter in any way thinks that it's "easy" to do anything in this kind of moral, psychological and sexual dilemma. Furthermore, you do not know what "situation" I or anyone else has been in that makes us go that extra mile and stick our necks out to take the time and formulate responses on this blog. Do not presume to read our hearts as you imagine we should not presume to read the hearts of others. But the fact remains that this letter WAS written and it WAS sent in and it WAS published and it WAS meant to be read and it WAS trying to get a response from us as readers and contributors. It was NOT meant as a "museum piece" or show letter held up to be displayed. We offer some words, obviously confident that SOME solace and perhaps some truth can be gleaned from them.

      "you will not have to deal with the rejection from the family and perhaps the entire community, even if you try to remain anonymous."

      RaP: This person was/is being raped, or some form of sexual abuse, by her/his grandfather and it's still going on with others in the family. Action is required. What would you recommend, silence? Nodding the head in agreement with the vile grandfather? Sometimes, a scream for help leads to a whole series of changes. This kind of situation cannot go on forever. Eventually someone goes off the derech, someone gets blamed, someone goes nuts, someone may land up in court, something terrible may happen. There are no "pain free" surgeries, unless you are offering up false placebos and numbing drugs, such as denial that hide the reality.

      "You will not be told by police (or a judge or DA) that the statute of limitation is over and that they cannot do anything for you. You will not have to live with ostracising for the coming years."

      RaP: All this you do not know. The nature of being victimized is that eventually the victims can take the pain no more, and when critical mass is achieved, the victims will scream out and fight back and do what they have to do to get back their identity and self-respect. Being a captive sex slave to a molester is a form of slavery, and Judaism does not accept that form of human condition. The grandfather is violating the sexual and moral laws of the Torah, it cannot be covered up and he be enabled by his victims forever. His victims will go crazy with guilt and from the damage and trauma they carry, which is not a better option than going to the cops, pressing charges, or outing him once and for all.

      Yidden Shrait Gevalt!!!

    2. To RaP: I really do appreciate the zero-tolerance-for-evil that you convey. I also think that you need to read the facts of the case a little more carefully.

      The woman herself said that her abuse occurred so long ago that it was past the statute of limitations so she could not bring charges herself. And she said that there are no reports of current violations. She says (and rightly so) that that does not mean there ARE no current violations, but at this point she is not aware of them, so there is no basis for prosecution.

      And so she informed her siblings to be on alert and maybe they will and maybe they won't. So what good will it do to start ranting and shaming her father. It will only tie her to him and to her family in an angry dispute, when her healing requires separation from them as she explained.

    3. Sorry, but I think the term that the perpetrator is "enabled" by his victims is completely inappropriate.

      The perp is the perp, he is the one committing the abuse, the family who does not want to listen is the family who does not want to listen (if you term them enablers, I would agree), the community who does not want to listen is the community who does not want to listen.

      It is not upon the victim to bear
      1) the abuse
      2) the re-victimisation by the family in denial
      3) the re-victimisation by the community in denial
      4) the re-victimisation by people like RaP who call her "enabler"

      It is not upon the victim to fight the windmills alone. As long as the family and the community stay in denial and enable the perp, the victims have done their share of warning. You cannot demand everything from them and nothing from the others.

    4. RaP, there is truth in what you say, yet you are over-simplifying.

      Consider what's happening now to SNAP in Missouri:

      "Prosecutors side with SNAP in Mo. records case", Sacramento Bee, 27 July

      (DT blogged about this case in March: "Church Puts Legal Pressure on Abuse Victims’ Group"

      SNAP reports the developments since March here:

      "SNAP's Fight for Survivor Confidentiality"

      The 2 latest amicus briefs on behalf of prosecutors and survivors advocacy groups are significant. (2 Jewish survivors advocacy groups are amici: JBAC and SFJ.) Both prosecutors and survivors advocacy groups stress the principle that confidentiality must be under the control of individual victims. The psychological phenomena are such that this ought to be recognized as a full-fledged priniciple of pikuah nefesh. Director David Clohessy makes this point very powerfully in his now-unsealed deposition. He may personally face severe legal consequences if his claim that SNAP is protected as a rape crisis center is not upheld by the courts. The deposition makes chillingly clear that the Catholic Church desperately wants to pierce SNAP's claim of statutory protection.

  8. PS: Molière (the french 17th century playwriter) grasped this kind of personality (in its catholic version) quite accurately in "Tartuffe" (of course, the catholic church loudly protested this play, managing even to censor or forbid it)...

  9. Perhaps it's time to stop equating "High level of learning" with "holiness" and "piety". One can be "baki" in all areas of Judaism, machmir with all the most obscure chumros, and still be a complete jerk.

  10. I would think that the only way for you to feel "hope" and peace , is to find some way to publicize his deeds to the authorities.
    I can never be in your shoes but I think that this would be the heroic thing to do.

  11. If the grandfather was involved in a serious way with arayos, he is chayav misa. I would venture to say from the description of what this person is doing, he probably is chayav misa many times over.

    If he were reported to the authorities, that would be correct but it would possibly smear and damage the entire family.

    The best solution would seem to be for him to meet up with some illegal aliens that don't like him and send him to a place where he can't do any more harm or for some kanoyim to give him a lesson in proper behavior up close and personal.

  12. I don't get this. This is a totally anonymous letter. It could be 100% true, but it could just as likely be 100% false. (Or is could be somewhere in between, which is usually the case.)
    How is one supposed to inteligently react to something that there is absolutely no way to know how true it is or isn't

    1. Why do you feel compelled to say that? It is self understood that anything written anonomously can be true or false, or something in between. I just feel that your need to point it out specifically in regards to a victim writing about her experiences just once again follows the same patern the author is lamenting, i.e. our inablitlity to come to terms with the bitter reality of incest and child molestation in our "hiemishe" communities.
      Which just makes me pounder and wonder again, why do you feel so compelled to miscredit the author?
      Is it that molestation in our "heilige homes" is just so unpalpable that you just cannot swallow it without gagging, which in this case took the form of your comment;
      or perhaps, forgive me for suggesting, that perhaps you have some stakes in the matter. Meaning, I've come to wonder if perhaps much of the motivation why some us really don't want to deal with this issue is becasue it's just too close to home for comfort. A father, brother, or someone one closely interacts with has come under suspicion, and that of course can spell doom for ones entire family, regarding Shiddichem and gerneral social status.
      And let me point out to you that I cannot think of anythng that would motivate the author to make up this story, since she isn't mentioning names, thus she can't be using this just to get even with someone.

    2. Why claim anonymity makes this posting less credible. A named source can also lie or unintentionally distort. Personally, I find the posting credible because of the pattern described and the tone of the letter. But that is neither here or there on establishing its truthfulness.

      You say why react to an anonymous post? Farkert. The fact that it is anonymous makes it like a hypothetical. We can't be certain of the truth, but our reactions are based on assuming the posting is true. This is not like gamal haporeach b'avir; this is something that happens regularly. So readers are offering responses for situations like this when they occur. Most of the readers believe this posting, but their is value in their responses even if this posting was a work of fiction. The responses suggest how to act when faced with this sort of situation in reality.

      I personally am reluctant to tell survivors what to do without drilling down a lot more into the particulars of their case. But in general the responses capture the tension between the need to protect potential victims vs the personal costs of calling out abusers.

      Again, thank you to the author of this post and to Rabbi Eidensohn for posting it on 9 Av.

  13. Thank you, Guest Poster.

    Many similarities to this report:

    "Waks, WIZO and Sexual Abuse", J-Wire, 29 July

    EXCERPT: << While the abuse itself was terrible enough, the ongoing cover-up and intimidation has made the situation much worse. ... [Manny Waks in Melbourne, Australia] noted the challenges of being a part of a relatively small community. For example, a senior executive member of one of the community’s roof bodies is currently dating one of the alleged perpetrators in his case. This obviously presents a major challenge to victims and their families (and probably the entire community). >>


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