Monday, April 4, 2016

Dear Baltimore Community, Although I have been gone for many years, I am writing this letter in the hope that today, due to a greater openness in the community, and due to greater awareness and education about childhood sexual abuse, my voice will be heard. Fifteen years ago, the Daas Torah in Baltimore advised my family to cut me off, and they have. I have not seen my parents or siblings in over fifteen years. I was not invited to their weddings, told of their children's births, or even informed when my grandmother died. My mother refuses to see me or my children, her grandchildren. I was killed off because I remembered being molested by my grandfather, a respected talmid chacham.  I was killed off because I remembered my father molesting and raping me repeatedly as a young child and I had to speak about it in order to heal. Speaking up cost me my life.   My kares was senseless and caused years of suffering, confusion, and pain for me and my family. We learn from Tamar the daughter of Dovid Hamelech that incest must not remain a secret. Tamar cried and screamed publicly about the rape by her brother Amnon. The rabbonim of the time heard her and institued the laws of yichud. They realized that if it could happen in the home of Dovid Hamelech it could happen anywhere. The laws of lashon hara are clear.   Whether you believe the allegations are true or not, is not the issue.   You can not believe something you can not possibly know, but at the same time you must take steps to protect your children!   25 years ago, as a young adult in a terrible crisis, I was confused, traumatized and suicidal. The sexual abuse I endured was horrifying and damaging beyond words, but the secondary trauma of losing the support of my family and community was far more devastating. Although incest is not something one "gets over," today after years of therapy and healing I am thriving. I have been married for over 17 years. I have been blessed with three beautiful children. Yet, my father is still working with children, protected by the rabbonim and the community's denial.  Some in Baltimore still spread untrue rumors about me to try to discredit me. In order to understand and learn from my story, we must understand denial. In my personal experience, denial is a strange and powerful beast. Denial is protective, and mine was just as strong and protective as my family’s.  It took me years to face and deal with my own denial, complicated by my family's, and the community’s denial. One of the hardest feelings to face and heal from was the deep shame and self hatred I had carried from the time I was a very little girl. I had to accept that I had been an innocent child, a victim, and I did nothing wrong. My survival was and is a miracle. I could not have done it without Hashem's help. Abuse and fear are of this finite world.  Truth, love, and acceptance are eternal, and the antidote to denial. Today, I do not judge myself by what others have done to me, or what I needed to do in order to survive, and I hope that if you are a survivor you can hear and integrate this for yourself.  Today, I offer compassion, acceptance, and love, to myself and any child or adult who has been through severe trauma, as I have.  Every day that we live; we choose life.  Every day that we love and accept ourselves, and each other, we are healing ourselves, our families, and our community.


1 comment:

  1. It was very reassuring to hear Meyer Seewald refer to your plight at Sunday night's event in Baltimore. The time has finally come for Baltimore to face reality.