Monday, November 22, 2010

Dr. Asher Lipner in Child & Domestic Abuse Volume I

p 135

Impact of sexual abuse on victims’ feelings about religion

It has been reported by rabbis and organization directors that specialize in working with the teens-at-risk population as well as researchers, that sexual abuse has been identified as a leading cause of the “off the derech” syndrome.  I have heard estimates from several rabbis of between 50 to 80 percent of at risk teens in the Orthodox community have been sexually traumatized.
A child’s development of a relationship with G-d is influenced directly and indirectly through both conscious and unconscious feelings about his or her relationship with adult caregivers, aespecially parents.   When a child has been abused or neglected by an adult or authority figure who is trusted, his or her ability to have faith in all authority figures can be shaken, including with the ultimate Authority of G-d.  When a rabbi or religious teacher is the one who abuses, it may feel like G-d himself sanctioned the sexual trauma.

Often there are feelings of anger, resentment and suspicion regarding anything religious.  Furthermore, as we will describe further on, religious teachings have often been used by the community to neglect and abandon victims of abuse.  Whether it is the resistance and refusal to confront the abuser (which would protect the victims) due to concerns of “lashon harah” “mesirah,” or “mevayesh b’rabim,” or unrealistic standards of proof, like requiring two kosher witnesses, etc., or failure to provide children with information about sexuality with which to protect themselves due to “modesty,” or the denial of the prevalence of the problem in the Jewish community due to concerns of “Chillul Hashem,” the survivors of abuse often feel that Orthodox society is set up to hurt them and to perpetuate the abuse of children. [...]

1 comment :

  1. yes alot of good points. however I belive the biggest culprit is the terribly low self esteem and negative self image that brings about a regction of spirutall levels as the victim looks for happiness through drugs and other sources of self gratification.


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