Wednesday, February 13, 2019

My Parents

 I think about my mother.  I love her and miss her.  I wonder what it is like for her to have a daughter that remembers and must talk about being abused by her father and husband, and to desperately need to keep that secret. 

 I wonder what it is like to have a daughter you are sure betrayed you over and over again every time she speaks about it. I hope I never know.  It must be so painful.  I wonder what it is like to have lost a daughter. It can't be easy. It is probably harder than losing a mother.   

  I think about my father, and I wonder what it must be like to live with the knowledge that you destroyed a family, and so many innocent children.  I don't envy him, his life today, and what awaits him. If I had to choose, I think I would rather be a victim than a perpetraitor any day. I have faith that truth and love will win in the end. 

Justice is the reality that I am publishing my story. Justice is my healing.  I wonder if my father will ever admit to his mistakes and take responsibility.  Probably not. I pray for him, that he repent and change his ways in this world.  I don't want him, or anyone to suffer eternal hell.  There has been enough suffering.  It is time for healing and redemption.  

Sunday, February 10, 2019

An Endorsement for The Price of Truth by two Trauma Therapists

Genendy, through enormous courage to write her story, has provided a platform to share in, what often times, is an isolated and secretive world. By creating a community of validation and support, she offers a path of healing for survivors of sexual abuse. Her honest authenticity, exposes the tumultuous whirlwind of pain and suffering felt by survivors at the hands of seemingly close, trusted and respected members of their own family. Genendy, has written a groundbreaking book, which makes a tremendous contribution to survivors and professionals alike. 

Rachel Ackerman, MSW

Joan B. Kristall, MSW

Friday, February 8, 2019

The night I finished the manuscript, I had a dream that the words of my book in gold letters flew down from the great beyond, where they had until now been only an idea, ...a dream, ...a story not yet told... In my dream I watched the gold letters fly down and settle in the blank pages of an empty book, filling them with my writing. I awoke with a clarity that I have God's blessing. My book is finished, and will be allowed to manifest in this world as a physical reality.  I was reassured that it will be for a blessing and for good.  

When I have doubts, I remind myself of this dream.

 Yaakov hid his daughter Dena in a box so that Eisav wouldn't see her.  He hid his most vulnerable and beautiful family member from the evil eye of his brother. 

 Our sages tell us that Yaakov made a mistake.  Dena had a soul with the power to transform Eisav.  If Eisav would have seen her he would have changed because of her goodness and beauty, and Mashiach, world redemption, would have come in that moment.  

It is a huge risk to expose the most vulnerable and authentic parts of ourselves.  But these are the very parts of us that are transformational for ourselves and for others. 

 By sharing my story I am allowing myself to be seen and vulnerable. And although it is so scary, I pray that God will protect me. 

 My hope is that it will be transformational.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Endorsements for my memoir by Rabbi Blau and Dr. Miriam Adahan

“The Price of Truth” is extremely powerful, simultaneously disturbing and inspiring.  It should be required reading for anyone who wants to understand the struggle of an abused child to confront incest and  to function normally.   The author describes what it meant to grow up without any support from her family and her religious community.  Yet this not an attack on Judaism.  Genendy emerged a committed observant Jew an educator dedicated to transform her community in confronting abuse.  It is also a love story proving that one can survive abuse and live a meaningful spiritual existence.
Rabbi Yosef Blau, spiritual supervisor of RIETS, Yeshiva University, and president of the Religious Zionists of America

It took great courage for Genendy to write this wonderful book. Her insights will help the many abuse victims to overcome the shame and emotional paralysis that plagues them. It is the abusers who should feel ashamed; but abusers don’t experience shame; they are too busy making up excuses, lying accusing their victims of being crazy and “imagining things.” Thus, the victims tend to carry all the trauma and scars on their own and are often vilified, rejected and ostracized by those who either refuse to acknowledge that abuse exists or who seek to cover up their own crimes. May this book be a healing for those who have suffered.
Dr. Miriam Adahan, author, psychologist, and founder of EMETT ("Emotional Maturity Established Through Torah")   

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Sometimes You Have to Walk Away...

After years of living with his evil uncle Lavan (Lavan means "white"), Yaakov still manages to hang on to truth, goodness, kindness, and his faith.  Lavan is a trickster, passing himself off as clean and "white."  He treats Yaakov as shameful and wrong, when Lavan is actually dishonest and abusive to his nephew.  It is so hard to hang on to truth in the face of denial.  Especially when a family member is abusive.  How did Yaakov do it for so long, I wonder?  His courage gives me strength.

We can't change an abuser, and we are not meant to.  Yaakov could not change Lavan, even with all the years he lived with him, and all the power of truth, faith, and goodness.  When we are dealing with an abuser we have to face the reality that if they are not open to change, we can not change them, and eventually we must part ways.  We must leave and not look back.  It is hard, and painful to leave. We have roots.  We wish things could be different. It causes rifts in the family. But it is part of truth's mission. You can not change an abuser!

As my book is about to be published I resonate deeply with the sentence in the Torah Where Yaakov is about to enter Eisav's territory and confront Eisav head on.  Yaakov is humbled by all of the kindness and truth God has shown him, in helping him cross the river (of life) safely.  Then Yaakov begs, "Please, save me from my brother!"   I am humbled by the kindness and truth that God has shown me.  I am amazed and so grateful to be in a place I never imagined existed.  A place of love and safety.  A place of empowerment.  But now I am going out on a limb, by publishing my story, and I am about to confront my brother, eleven siblings actually, and perhaps their wives, husbands, and children too, who already resent me and feel I am stealing something from them by my very existence. It feels dangerous, scary, and painful. 

 I have prayed for years that I do God's will and nothing else. I have asked God to prevent me from publishing my book if it is not His will, and if it will not ultimately bring goodness and healing to this world.  My goal is to bring light, hope, and healing to a broken and hurting world.  A world that is suffering.  There are so many children and adults who have been through similar experiences to mine and who desperately need healing.  There are so many survivors who need to know that they have a voice and they are not alone.  They need to hear my story so that they know that healing is possible!

 I run a peer led support group for women survivors of severe trauma.  Connection with others who have been through abuse is so important!  Fellow survivors, you are not alone!  You have a voice that is important and deserves to be heard.  Your suffering has meaning and purpose, even if you can't comprehend what it is right now.  The world cannot exist without you...And the proof is that you are alive!  Each breath that you take has value and meaning.  God does not create anyone extra.  All of who you are, with all of your humanity, limitations, strengths, and faults, is vital to this moment in time.  
Never give up hope!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Rav Pam and the Rabbi/ Psychologist

I am twenty-two. My childhood friend Sara, who I babysat with when I worked my first job as a ten year old, is now married and living in Brooklyn.
 She invites me to spend Shabbos with her and her husband.  I explain to her that I'm not so religious, and I tell her why.  She listens quietly and then she says, she doesn't mind.  I can come to her dressed however I feel comfortable. I show up to Sara's house in jeans, but Sara and her husband don't judge me, and I change into a skirt for Shabbos.

Sara's father-in-law is a close desciple of one of the most revered rabbis of our generation, Rav Pam.   I ask Sara to ask her father-in-law, to set up an appointment for me to speak with Rav Pam. He is known as a gadol, a leader of our generation.  If he is a leader, let him lead me.  Maybe he can help me figure my life out.  Maybe he can help me deal with my father.

I'm disappointed when Sara's father-in-law says that it's impossible to get an appointment. Rav Pam is getting older and very busy.  Appointments are scheduled months in advance.

On Sunday, before I head back home, I call Savta, who lives in the neighborhood.  Maybe she wants to see me.  Maybe, just maybe, she will support me. That is a far stretch, but I want to tell her about Tatty, to see her reaction. I remember Tatty telling me that she used to slap him, and hold his nose and force feed him.  I hold her somewhat responsible for how he turned out.

"I heard that you left home."  Savta says, her voice pained,  "Tatty needs you at home.  You're his best girl.  I'll give you anything if you go back home! What can I give you?   A diamond ring?  A car?"
"Savta, I can't live at home." I try to say it gently. "Tatty molested me when I was little.  I'm really not doing well. I can't stay there anymore."

Savta begins to wail, "Tatty?!  No!  He needs you!  You're his best girl!  He's a tzaddik, a tzaddik!  Go back home!  I can't talk to you." She hangs up the phone.

I look up Rav Pam's phone number in the local phone book, and call his home.  His wife answers.  I explain a little about my situation and ask her if I can speak with her husband.  Yes, she says. Come over at ten, in half an hour. So much for appointments.  I go over in my jeans.

Rav Pam is a tiny man with a white beard, and a sweet, kind face.  He asks me where I'm from and where I went to high school.  I tell him.  He looks at me kindly,
"What is a good Bais Yaakov girl doing dressed like this?"  He asks.  His question is kind, without judgement.
"I'm not good, and I'm not a Bais Yaakov girl," I respond, my eyes on his desk.
I tell Rav Pam about Tatty and Zaidy.  He tells me there is a rabbi in my community who is also a psychologist.  "Speak with him.  He will help you."
 The person Rav Pam is advising me to speak with is one of the first people I turned to and I already know it is a dead end. 
 A rabbi who is also a psychologist sounded like someone who might actually be able to help.
I met with him and asked him if it is considered lashon hara, evil gossip, to speak about what my father did to me.  I told him that I don't know if my father was still abusing children.  I hoped he wasn't, but it was possible.  The rabbi/psychologist told me that the only person I should be speaking to about my memories is my therapist, otherwise it would be lashon hara.  He also offered to connect me to a woman in his community who he said would support me in my healing process.
Did he believe me?  I don't know.
Did he do anything to ty to protect the future generations of children my father would continue to molest, ...some who weren't even born yet at the time we met?

 Standing in front of Rav Pam,  disappointment squeezes my chest and rises into my throat.
"I don't think he can help me.  I already spoke with him.  He is a friend of my father."
  It is difficult to speak. I am so alone.