Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Was Treated Differently Than My Siblings

I remember sitting in "therapy" with my mother years ago listening to her explain to the therapist how she knew from the time I was very young that I couldn't be trusted.  She said I always made things up, just like I was now making up my memories of abuse.  She explained that when I was three years old she was missing the baby's plastic pants and asked me if I knew where they were.  I looked my mother straight in the eye and said, "No."  She later found them on my doll.  She knew then that I was a liar and would always be one.
 I'm sure that my siblings picked up on this message.

I was not allowed in the library from age ten.  At age ten my mother found me reading a children's book, "Tomboy" (I will never forget the name) about a girl my age getting her period.  A friend at Bais Yaakov loaned it to me. My father told me that reading such a book was like eating pig. From now on my parents would be checking all of my books before I read them, even the ones from the Bais Yaakov library.

I was treated differently than my siblings in many ways.  As teens, my sisters were allowed to drive the family car.  I was not.  My sister had a radio.  I was not allowed one.  My mother took my tape recorder, without telling me what she was doing, and had the radio 'professionally' broken.  My older sisters were allowed to go to the mall at age eighteen.  I was not.  When I questioned this unfair treatment my mother said I couldn't go to the mall because I was "interested in too many things."  She expressed concern about me reading greeting cards in a card store.  I had to promise that I would not go into the greeting card store if she allowed my older sister to chaperone me to the mall at age 18.

I remember one of the arguments I had with my father around this time, when I started questioning being treated differently than my siblings.  He became very angry with me and lifted his hand. I told him to go ahead and hit me if he wanted to.  In front of my mother he said, "OK, get down on all fours." When I did, my mother protested and insisted that I get up.

Although I was physically safe at age 18, I was not emotional or psychologically safe.  Dr. Weisbord, my therapist at the time, told me that she was only seeing me because she was a friend of my father. She told me she didn't usually see her friend's kids, as it would be unethical.  She made an exception in my case because of her respect for my father.

I had been brought up with a very clear message that I was not a good person.  I was a liar.  I was a manipulator.  I made things up to get attention. (needing glasses for example)  Not even serious physical illness was taken seriously.  At age fourteen I was sick for a month with pneumonia before I was taken to a doctor.  My baby brother caught it as well, and was given antibiotics within a day.  I understood that I was bad and it was my parents job to "make me" good.  They told me they knew me better than I knew myself.  I received the message often that the reason for my parents controlling behavior was that I was a danger to myself because of my inherent badness.  (A fundamentalist Christian message.)   We tend to believe what our parents tell us as children and I believed that this was true.  I was told that before I married I would always obey my parents.  After I was married I would obey my husband.  I was told what I was supposed to feel and believe about every situation.  I was not allowed my own thoughts or feelings.  Until after I was married the only real and valid thoughts and feelings belonged to my parents.

As children my father would threaten that he would "put us to bed and take all our clothes off," as a way to bring us into line.  The control and humiliation continued into adulthood.

I believed I was bad because I felt bad.  I was told that any suffering I experienced was my own fault. If I didn't want to suffer, I could make it go away because I had made it up anyway.  I was told that I made all of my feelings up.  I believed that there had to be something very wrong and bad about me from a very young age.  Why else would Hashem allow my father and other men to repeatedly molest me?  Why else would my parents treat me differently than my siblings?  It made sense to me that they knew that I was bad and were protecting me from myself.  I grew up in shame and terror of my badness, and in fear of my father.

It took many many years of distance from my family to rid myself of the poisonous messages I grew up with.  It took me many years of therapy to learn that feeling bad is not the same as being bad.  It took me years to learn to accept that as a child I did what I had to do to survive.  All children who are sexually abused by a parent blame themselves.  It is a matter of survival.  No child can afford to believe that the person whose survival they depend  on is unsafe.

As painful as my family cutting me out of their lives has been, I believe that it is the only way I have been able to get to the place I am now, and do the deep healing work that I have done. I believe that there is a good reason Hashem has allowed this...and I know it's not because I'm bad.


  1. so, everyone was out to get you? This type of conspiratory behavior does not stegthen your case/ makes you look like you are simply "out there" - i am not suggesting that these things did not occur, but as a father i would find it extrememly difficult and strange to favor one child, or not favor one child over all the others, simply......because.

    I wish you luck in getting to the bottom of all of this and gaining whatever closure or tikun you are looking for

    1. This is an interesting point. You might say my parents treated me differently because I behaved differently. The problem is that being treated differently started when I was three years old, around the time the sexual abuse started. My mother seemed to need to believe that I was a liar from the age of three. Have you ever met an "out there" three year old?

    2. The explanation, that would make sense based on the literature about abusers and your family's history, is that your father convinced your mother that you were "out there" in order to keep you on the "bad" side and therefore justify their abhorrent treatment of you and conceal his abuse of you.

    3. Ksil- Are you suggesting that because you are a father and couldn't imagine favoring one child or abusing one child that it doesn't occur? Baruch Hashem your children are fortunate. In a dysfunctional family- often one child plays the role of the scapegoat and one child may be the subject of the abuse. Sometimes one child is more sensitive than others or has greater needs that are not being met. But either way just becuase you find it difficult or strange, by no means is an indication of just how prevelent this dynamic actually is

    4. i am asking a question.

      is there evidence that a sexual predator, like rabbi eisgrou, would ignore all those children and just select one?

      I am not a professional, but wonder if that is a normal occurrence in abuse cases.

      the claim here is that he only molested one of his children....and NO ONE ELSE (given that no one else has ever come forward about this)

    5. Ksil,
      First of all, yes, there are plenty of cases like that. You don't have to be a professional, just living outside of a shell. Here's the latest one that I'm aware of -

      And here's a court ruling on another one:

      Others have come forward, there was a police report and a police investigation of another case of a student at TI. It's a shame that TI administrators were not open and helpful to the authorities in that case, in order to stop this perpetrator. But that's how we find ourselves here at this point.

      If you watch the report, Standing Silent, you'll find another person reporting on it. You just need to investigate and open your eyes and mind.

    6. I was the 'hated' one. I was even told that I was a 'bitch' at 2 years old, I was told I was Evil. We were not a church going family, I thought I was a mistake my whole life. I believed it all, why wouldn't I? My Mother still does it, but at least now I can defend myself. Some of the other siblings want me to 'go along' with Mom's stories. Easy for them, they aren't the ones being lied about in the stories. My role was to be the despised one.
      So I know this happens in some families...Peace

    7. This is very normal for someone that was sexually abused n even more normal to be treated that way by parents when you have been.
      It's a hard thing to overcome please maybe try a support group and remem bet it's not and never was your fault.

  2. Can someone explain why Yehuda Buchwalter feels a need to insert himself into this discussion. What is his connection besides being a "concerned citizen". As the old saying goes "those who know don't say and those who say don't know"........

  3. Who is asking, the ksil? Maybe you should read my other posts on this blog and you will see what I know about the issue. I have first HAND and leg, etc. experience with the abusers of Baltimore. Yes, that old saying is as you say OLD. We are in a new generation now. We are supposed to learn from the OLD generation and not repeat their mistakes, as has been done for decades here in Baltimore. If you really want to know my need, call me up or send me an email or feel free to visit me at shul, work, or at my home. I welcome the discussion.

    1. Yehudah Buchwalter- your other posts don't make much sence. You talk about lifeguards at the pool in the same line as sexual abuse. That is an insult to those who have suffered real abuse. If you have something to say, why not just say it clearly?

    2. Anonymous(6/23@7:55AM),
      If you have an opinion and critique of someone, then why don't you identify yourself with your real name? Is that clear? Make sense?

      I'm sorry that you are having trouble understanding. Let's see if the following elaboration helps, if not then I will wait for you to contact me directly instead of anonymously on this blog. Clear enough? Still following?

      When an adult takes clearly irresponsible actions without regard to the safety of children, like hiring uncertified lifeguards to fill the positions of lifeguards at a public pool, like giving prescription drugs to children without a doctor's over-sight, like punching children in the head in the hallway of the school, all things that Eliezer Eisgrau has done; then you have the text book persona of a child abuser. Add on to those well known cases, the allegations of molestation by family and students, that have been thwarted by Rabbonim and administrators in the community, and you should be able to understand that Eliezer Eisgrau has been a festering sore for many years. Clear enoungh? It is time to take your(you and the community at large) head(s) out of the sand and stand up for the children of the community and those that can't defend themselves, by removing Eliezer Eisgrau from his position or any position with direct access to children.

      Remember that the other response was in context to Genendy's post. Like I said, if you need more clarity, contact me offline because I'm tired of typing in responses to your nebulous questions.

    3. Hiring uncertified lifeguards is not abuse or indicitive of an abuser. It is insulting to victims of abuse that you put them in the same category. Your attitude is obnoxious and really not helping anyone.

  4. Why ever should Mr. Buchwalter not contribute to the discussion? We could use more concerned citizens on the issue.

  5. Anonymous (6/27/13@5:54) Your lack of concern for the safety of children is quite atrocious. Maybe you need to witness a child being taken out of a pool with blood streaming from their head to appreciate the seriousness of the matter. I hope you haven't been a Pirchei/Bnos leader, counselor or other children's leader/supervisor, as I have. I wouldn't want you to have any responsibility over my children. I disagree with you that it is a tell-tale sign of an abuser. The first most basic missing characteristic of a child abuser is their lack of care for the welfare of children. If they would just have that most fundamental of human qualities, that differentiates humans from so many animals, they would not do what they do.

  6. Genendy, you wrote: "I understood that I was bad and it was my parents job to "make me" good." I heard this same message. Though instead of my "parents", female babysitter must be substituted. I dreaded her punishments yet felt very guilty in between them. I believe I deserved them. I know now that this is false. But there are days when I still feel like I am bad and somehow deserving of punishment to make me "good". This is the perversion of abuse. The innocent child believes they are at fault. The abuser has the advantage because the child is biologically wired to believe the adult. Children also believe that everything that happens is because of them. So when the child is abused, developmentally, the child must believe it is their fault. There are no other "logical" choices. It is a very perverted perversion.

  7. My heart goes out to you. Such a young child to be treated so cruelly. You come across as a very strong person today. I wish you every success in all you do.

  8. I stumbled upon this blog after looking for answers concerning my own experience with differential treatment as a child.... I never went through the horrors of sexual abuse, but I can sympathize with being called a liar from a young age as well as being verbally abused. I have no idea who some of the contributors are to you (it seems that some have taken your blog very personally), but I applaud you for coming out about your experiences. You are so incredibly resilient and strong to recognize that you have been mistreated and abused. Never accept that you are "bad" because you are not. You are a survivor and a leader.
    Why this happened to you doesn't matter. You might say wish that things were different, but to quote a very popular movie, "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us."

    Use your struggles, trials, tribulations, and obstacles, as a source of strength, encouragement, and power for all that you have overcome!

    -D NY

  9. i wanted to find out about myself/inner self and came across this and wow, it never give me answers to what i was looking for,but had to reply. i remember being treated differently not just by my mam but also by my older sister and brother from a early age, and always got made into a liar. my sister or my brother would do something to me which made me cry, so i would tell my mam what happened, and my sister and brother would join together and say i was making it up, and because of that my mam would tell me off for telling lies. this carried on for years and years, and even when i was extremely ill, and had to be rushed to hospital, for a mayor opp, where i was just hours if not less from dying, they all said it was my fault and i was to blame. my mam made me wear her underwear one day for school, and when i said no, she forced me to do it. i was sexual, physical and mentally abuse was by my brother. when that started i changed, i told the truth but got told to shut up and stop lieing, i was blamed for the eletric bill being high, but when they found out if was not me, they stilled blamed me for it. im 42 this year, and they still blame me for stuff i never done, and say im lieing, and dont believe what i tell them. for my brother they know what he done, but thinks that he is ok and done nothing wrong. its disgraceful. and now when someone tell me to shut up and stop telling lies, even so im telling the truth i cant handle it, due to how i was treated when i was younger.