Sunday, May 26, 2013

This is A Twenty Year Old Story...Why Bring It Up Now??

Some people wonder why I am bringing this up now.  They assume that because this is a twenty year old allegation, everyone in Baltimore knows about it, the administration of Torah Institute knows  about it, have investigated it and "taken care of it."
What do they know?
Whom have they spoken to?
Not me.
Do they know that about thirteen years ago my father was reported to the authorities by a therapist who was seeing a former student of his?  This therapist believed that my father had molested her client.
The investigator told me at the time that he believed my father was guilty, but, "The community is stonewalling me.  No one will talk to me because I'm a goy.  An outsider."

 The charges were dropped for lack of sufficient evidence. In the minds of the Baltimore Rabbonim this somehow proved my father's innocence.

None of them have ever spoken to me or my therapist about this or even tried to.  No one in Baltimore has taken me seriously or bothered to contact me in the past twenty years.  They are relying on Rabbi Hopfer and Rabbi Heineman's word that THEY investigated carefully and decided that I was not credible, simply because I was hurt and acted hurt as a teen and young adult.

  I was suicidal at the time that they decided this and wasn't sure myself what had happened to me!   I was so confused by my family's denial, never mind my own!

Until relatively recently I didn't really believe that I was a real person who existed.   It's hard to know you exist when you have always been taught and treated like you aren't real.

 I had only three therapists since the age of twenty five, who all worked with me for multiple years and all believed that I had survived serious sexual abuse by my father.  No one in my family or the Baltimore community has ever asked to speak to these therapists.
Perhaps they prefer to rely on the Baltimore Rabbonim who have no interest in speaking to my therapists.

Rabbi Hopfer decided that it is acceptable to kill me off, to destroy my relationship with my siblings, in order to try to keep me quiet.  What is Rabbi Hopfer and my family so afraid of?  If I am crazy or hallucinating why do I pose such a threat to them?

 My father did terrible, unspeakable, things to me as a child.  He is still abusing me by treating me, and allowing me to be treated by my family, as dead  in order to protect himself.  As long as my father is the principal of a school, and I am cut off from my family, and ignored by my community the abuse continues...MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS LATER THE ABUSE CONTINUES! 
For my own sanity and healing I will no longer play dead.
I bring this up again twenty years later with the full support of my therapist and my rav.

Child sexual abuse doesn't happen in a vacuum.   A family has to be unhealthy for incest to happen in the first place.
 I was systematically taught from a young age that my experiences and needs were not real and that I could not trust my own eyes.
Here is one example:
When I was ten years old I needed glasses.  My mother refused to get me them telling me "You see well enough."
When I finally got glasses a year later in order to, "get the teacher off my back not because you really need them,"  they were a badge of shame in my family.  I didn't really need them, I just wanted attention.  My siblings would snicker about my glasses and my exaggerated need for attention behind my back.   I remember being sent out of the room after my eyes were examined. (I must have been 11 or 12.)  I overheard the discussion between the opthamologist and my father.  My father argued with the doctor that he and my mother did not want me to have glasses because I read too much.  They wanted me to play outside more.  I remember the doctors incredulous voice saying, "I can see by the shape of her pupils that your daughter is very nearsighted!" Do you want your daughter walking around in a blurry world?!" 
The answer was, and still is, YES.

My parents, siblings, and the Baltimore Rabbonim want me walking around in a blurry world believing that I am not real and that I can't trust my own memories and experiences.
The saga of the glasses was long and agonizing.  I was perpetually frustrated in school because I couldn't see the board properly.  At one point one lens of my glasses broke and I walked around with only one lens for a year.  The result was a serious convergence insufficiency.

 When I was eighteen and got a new prescription my mother took my new glasses away from me because she said, they "looked too thick."  She wanted me to have a weak prescription and not the one my doctor said I needed.

 At that point something inside me snapped.  I broke all family rules of submission to parental authority and went to the glasses store myself to get my proper prescription.

My mother would tell me often that I had no reason to be sad or angry and I should put a smile on my face...She would chant the following quote as if handing me pearls of wisdom that someone had given to her:

"My face I don't mind it for I am behind it."

She seemed to be implying that I should not show negative emotion on my face as I was not the one who had to look at me.  My face was not for me but for the benefit of others.  No one wanted to see my negative feelings.
She shared this quote with me many times over the course of my childhood when I was angry or sad and let it show on my face.

Even my face did not belong to me...

Never mind the rest of my body and soul. 


  1. You are very brave to tell your story -- hopefully it will help to raise the awareness of the continued existence of early childhood trauma in all communities. As a psychotherapist in Baltimore primarily outside of the Jewish community, I have heard this story from many men and women whose lives were damaged by those who were supposed to love and protect them. There are no excuses for childhood trauma or for family members and community professionals and religious leaders not to take accusations seriously -- but there is healing -- and you have taken a very important step by speaking out loud. I believe that the failure of family members to believe their child and to take their statements seriously is worse, in the context of healing over time, than the act(s) of childhood trauma. There are times when children make statements for attention -- but even then this indicates a cry for help that must not be ignored. As they say, "When there is smoke, there is fire." Something is going on that must be addressed when a child tells their parent something is wrong.

    The experience of an inappropriate touch may heal but the failure of a parent to protect their child lingers forever. I wish you success in your recovery.

    Dr. Howard (Chaim) Eisenberg

    1. Howard,
      Thank you so much for your public support! You are so right, the abandonment by my parents and family is so much more damaging than the actual abuse..which was pretty bad.

  2. Oh Genendy,
    We here in Baltimore can feel your pain. We've watched this sickness continue on in Baltimore, from managing the BY swimming pool without certified life-guards, to medicating children without a doctor's over-sight, to physical abuse of students, to molestation of students, the list of abuses is staggering. That the Rabbonim and lay leaders of the city have let it go on for so long is inexcusable. To think that Baltimore rabbonim's own wives have first-hand experience with the mis-deeds that Eliezer Eisgrau deed with your aunt Esther and have not done anything to stop his influence on other children is shocking. The silence is deafening. But we continue to work and pray to right the wrongs done to so many children, many now adults, here in Baltimore. Thank you for communicating with us.

  3. Judah,
    Thank you for sticking your neck out and publicly advocating for children and adult survivors. In the face of such denial and suppression, your courage is unbelievable!


  4. Dear Genendy,

    I read all of the blog last night . I was really moved. I am really sorry for all you have gone through . I really liked your letter to your father after he replied to you. It was really powerful. Your example of your glasses also really brought home the overall dysfunctionality and abuse you and I most other survivors went through. They were not normal people who abused us. The sexual abuse was just one aspect that destroyed us.
    Kol Hakavod. You deserve " The Purple Heart".


  5. Too much Lashon Hara here. I can not believe that such a thing would take place in the warm and holy community of Baltimore. The community is so holy and classy I can not believe it. I think of all the Chesed that Seven Mile Market and Maven Motors does by taking such good care of the community I can not believe it.