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Abuse Survivors; Please Do Not Suffer Alone
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, Dr. Benzion Twerski
Credits to The Jewish Press

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11/19/09

This essay will appear in next week’s Jewish Press. Generally, as per my arrangement with The Jewish Press, I do not post columns until the issue is on the newsstand. However, due to the nature and timeliness of this subject, The Jewish Press is permitting its release prior to publication as a public service.

Abuse Survivors; Please Do Not Suffer Alone

By: Dr. Benzion Twerski and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

In recent days, reports have circulated in the media and on the Internet about the tragic early passing of yet another young man in our community. Those reports indicate that the trauma of childhood abuse followed him and complicated his adult life to the point that it impinged on the quality of his personal relationships.

It is not the intent of these lines to substantiate these reports nor is it to dismiss them. Rather, we wish to use the opportunity presented by this horrible calamity and the dialogue it has created on the internet and in the street to once again loudly and forcefully reiterate the message we have been projecting for many years to victims of abuse – “Please reach out for help and do not suffer alone.”

For even in the event that the facts as reported in this particular tragedy are not accurate, they are most certainly consistent with the pattern we have unfortunately seen over and over again, where victims of childhood abuse go through unspeakable agony as they attempt to singlehandedly deal with the toxic aftereffects of the trauma they suffered in their formative years. We have each encountered numerous instances where untreated childhood abuse follows victims into adulthood, shredding their marriages and rendering them often incapable of entering into a loving and intimate relationship with their spouses until a trained mental health professional helps them sort things out. We have each been involved with more than a few childhood abuse victims who became addicted to heroin and/or cocaine, in an unsuccessful attempt to wash away the searing pain of their trauma. We have each paid more than a few shiva calls to families of abuse victims, who years and even decades later took their own lives.

There are a number of reasons why abuse victims would not avail themselves of intervention and assistance. Some are understandably reluctant or frightened to share the facts of their abuse with others. Others, who did have the courage to confide in adults in their lives were encouraged or intimidated into remaining silent – especially if the perpetrator is a respected individual or a close family member. This sends a horrible message to the victim – that he or she has done something that cannot see the light of day. The result is a that a never-ending video loop now plays in the mind of the victim, as societal pressure abuses them again and again, by forcing them to remain silent and unsupported.

There are many events that simultaneously involve more than one “system.” For example, when one gets arrested for driving under the influence which caused injuries or death, there are criminal penalties for drunk driving and financial reparations due for the damages caused. However, neither of these tracks deals with the fact that the perpetrator has a drinking problem. Courts realize they cannot treat alcoholism, as revoking licenses, impounding cars, and even jail terms will not prevent recidivism – especially if treatment is warranted but not followed.

Various efforts have been undertaken in recent years – all of which are necessary – in the arenas of prevention, education, training, and the need for reporting. And we both have proudly participated in many of them. However, despite the fact that these initiatives and the awareness they generate are often soothing to past abuse victims, none of these help them regain their footing. Only therapy by a licensed and trained professional can accomplish that.

We are therefore reaching out to anyone who was ever abused or molested in their childhood years and begging you to please do yourself the ultimate favor and get help.

Therapy may not solve all issues in your life, but it will do much to make your future brighter and filled with greater promise. In fact, many survivors thrive and build beautiful lives for themselves and their families following successful treatment.

It may be true that some people are resilient and survive with little apparent damage (apparent is the operative word). However, this is not the norm, and with the dangers involved, we would not recommend that you even risk this small chance. So; for your sake, and for the sake of your spouse and children, please, please get help.

This may mean several things:

  1. Contact a mental health professional who is experienced in counseling trauma victims. (I strongly feel that well-intentioned individuals like me, who do not have professional training in abuse treatment, are not equipped to deal with these issues and should limit our involvement to supporting the efforts of the professionals, and steering those who seek our guidance in these matters directly to them. Y.H.)
  1. Get information about trauma and its effects.
  1. Connect with other victims/survivors. The camaraderie and support are invaluable.

We strongly suggest that you ignore those who inform you, that getting married and starting a family will help you, “Get over it.” Experience has taught us that it will often complicate things rather than heal them.

Please, please do not suffer alone. Reach out for help today.

In closing, we offer you our sincere and heartfelt bracha that Hashem grant you menuchas hanefesh and simchas hachayim (tranquility and joy) in your lives.

© 2009 Dr. Benzion Twerski and Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved

Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is a regular columnist in The Jewish Press. Dr. Benzion Twerski is a renowned and much sought-after mental health professional who holds a Ph.D. in psychology from University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Twerski has been one of the leading voices in our community on the issue of child abuse for more than a decade. He lives and practices in Brooklyn, N.Y. and can be reached at btwerski@gmail.com



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1. Wondering...     11/19/09 - 3:30 PM
gregaaron

I have been to the "survivor" sites, and they all seem to be run by people with ulterior agendas - no offense to anyone, but they don't seem to be very pro-da'as Torah. Rabbi Horowitz or Dr. Twersky, do either one of you know of any such sites (maybe one where people can just tell their stories and get feedback, but where the hashkafos are those that fit with what many of us are looking for)? If not, would anyone be interested in starting one?

Great article as always, by the way.


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2. Egla Arufa and communal guilt     11/19/09 - 5:09 PM
D

The Bible discusses the laws concerning a city which finds a traveler killed outside its gates. The Bible states that the elders of the town must atone for it, although it appears they personally did no wrong. This is because they fostered and tolerated an atmosphere where this traveler was not able to get the support which he needed and the tools that he needed in order to make it out in the wilderness. This young man's blood is on the hands of every rabbi and community leader, although there is already so much blood that those leaders and rabbis may not notice. Yes, I blame the person who committed this atrocity on him and I blame his family who didn't get him proper help. However, his blood is on the hands of a community which fosters and encourages an atmosphere in which the molester is tolerated and the victim and his family do not feel comfortable or safe enough to come forward. They have created a community where these issues are embarrassing. They have encouraged a community where parents and family members do not understand or appreciate the severity of these matters and are able to sweep it under the rug instead of getting proper help for victims. The fact that this young man's tragic suicide is being glossed over and described as an accident is further evidence that the community is still not willing to accept responsibility, to make penance and to start making things right in the community.

The last year has seen a crises of epic proportions in our community. A crises of faith in the quality of leadership which our rabbis and community leaders are offering. A crises of faith in a religion in which the most devout followers are failing, so spectacularly and so publicly, to act in a manner which is even remotely reasonable and appropriate. If this is the Torah, and this is the people who follow it, why should we be surprised when our youth reject this outright. Whether its money laundering, fraud or covering up for molesters, the message that our youth are receiving is loud and extremely offensive. It may be asking too much to expect that our youth will be able to filter through this static and see the beauty of the Torah and Judaism in spite of the actions of those who purport to live in accordance with it.

This young man is a victim, and stating that he committed suicide does not in any way cast doubt on that or assign any more responsibility to him or to his family. I suspect that his family will do a lot of soul searching and second guessing, and I wish them will in that painful process. However, the Rabbinical desire to deny the very fact that this young man clearly took his own life strips our Rabbis of whatever remaining credibility that they may have had. This is not communist Russia, where the papers can create the news. The truth will and does come out. If they do not wish to discuss the truth, then avoid it - but they need to suppress the urge to dictate to people what to believe unless they are certain that it is fact. In addition, covering up for suicide, depression, mental illness and abuse makes other people in this situation less likely to get the help that they need.

There is one final point which I find quite tragic. The young woman, when faced with a husband who needed help, supposedly responded "why did you marry me then". I can understand her hurt and her anger, but it appears that this further highlights a basic flaw in our marriage system. These young adults did not marry each other out of any desire to live with or be with each other. She did not have any commitment to this young man, or else she would have probably been aware of his issues before they got married and definitely would not have reacted as she did. They were strangers, thrust into an intimate situation and then expected to be able to support each other in such a traumatic and dysfunctional moment.

Mi Ke'am,cha Yisroel, indeed.


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3. To gregaaron     11/19/09 - 5:32 PM
Anonymous

You wrote about the survivor sites:

...they all seem to be run by people with ulterior agendas - no offense to anyone, but they don't seem to be very pro-da'as Torah.

Perhaps this is because the experience of those people is that the people who claim to represent "da'as Torah" very often appear to want to "sweep things under the rug". It is painful to say, but it is so.

Kol Tuv.


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4. Hypocrisy     11/19/09 - 8:00 PM
steve - Brooklyn, NY

It is highly hypocritical of Rabbi Horowitz to be advising adults who were sexually abused as children. Rabbi Horowitz was a vocal opponent of the Child Victims Act, even going on public radio to voice his opinion. The Child Victims Act would be the only recourse for these past victims. Nobody will believe these victims years after the abuse if not for the possibility of them seeking legal action. Rabbi Horowitz along with Vito Lopez, David Niederman, the Agudah and the Catholic Church have worked to insure that these victims are forever muzzled.

You want these poor victims to seek professional help? What kind of closure are you offering them? Their molesters will be protected indefinitely thanks to your lobbying. The community continues to shun these victims and label them as "damaged goods". What incentive do they have to come forward and risk being exposed, thereby ruining shidduchim prospects for themselves and their families.

Until the stigma is removed from sexual abuse victims and until we stop protecting the molesters, there is no reason for these victims to speak out. Without any sense of closure and without the community's love, understanding and acceptance, there is no psychotherapist that can help these victims.

The first step to healing is passing the Child Victims Act, over Rabbi Horowitz' objections and over the rest of the axis of evil's objections. Let's make it happen!


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5. to Steve     11/19/09 - 9:31 PM
gregaaron

I would like to know exactly what sort of "closure" could be gained by milking Yeshivos - many of whom are under completely different management now then they were when the incidents happened - of every penny they have, especially considering the financial situation in which many of them now find themselves. People want to take down their abuser? Perfectly understandable. But the Markey bill would have opened up the floodgates for victims - many of whom would be completely fabricating stories - to mask their lust for money behind the curtain of, "Well, I need it to get on with my life."

As I have said several times on this site, I am very happy with what happened to my abuser. He was quietly let go from his position in which he was around children, and anyone who needs to know, finds out. Ruining the life of countless people just for revenge is not what we are expected to do. You're right, they didn't do what they should either, but there's no need for us to sink down to their level.

The chillul Hashem that would have resulted would have been enormous, and for what? So that people could ruin the pillars of our religion? The "in" thing is to jump on the bandwagon and should the need for us to hunt down every person, McCarthy style, who had rumors said about him when he was in 2nd grade. Obviously I know, first hand, that such stories did and continue to happen. But the Markey bill would not have helped for the past, present or future. Halachically, Rabbi Horowitz probably had a chiyuv to be against it.

Not everything is perfect - you know that, I know that, and we all know that. But that is no reason to support a bill that would have spelled doom for many Yeshivos, for no reason.


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6. We need to talk     11/19/09 - 10:03 PM
Elliot Pasik - Long Beach, NY - efpasik@aol.com

About a year ago, a Long Island shul hosted an evening addressing our community's child sex abuse problem. OHEL was the sponsor, and I attended. They showed a video where an anonymous mother described her son's torment, and ultimately, his suicide. There was a palpable feeling of shock in the crowd.

In May 2003, Dr. David Pelcovitz, the psychologist, spoke at the respective conventions of Torah U'Mesorah and the Rabbinical Council of America, telling the assembled that there have been child sex abuse suicides.

Back to the OHEL video, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky spoke. I believe he said a notable chiddush, which OHEL reprinted in one of their brochures: "To the victims I would say it's a duty, a mitzva to go and reveal their stories."

I've given some thought to the statement, which breaks away from a culture of keeping things hush-hush. Why is it a mitzvah? Why is it a way to cleave and connect to G-d? To spur action. To protect today's unvictimized children. To recognize that keeping things bottled up is unhealthy. That a dialogue among all of us is good. That if our community knows the victims, and talks to victims, that will heal and benefit all of us. That we can marry each other.

It appears the latest victim did not reveal his story to anyone until it was too late.

For the future, let's not repeat the same mistake.


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7. Professional help     11/19/09 - 10:36 PM
Been There

I would like to ask Rabbi Horowitz How the victims are supposed to be able to pay the tens of thousands of dollars that the therapy costs? Why would you block a bill that would possibly enable a victim to recover monies that will help pay for treatment? Many need help to get help as it is unaffordable to most.


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8. To Gregaaron     11/19/09 - 11:01 PM
steve - Brooklyn, NY

Why do have this paranoia about yeshivos being sued? The purpose of the bill is so that the victims have legal recourse against their abusers. If there was a yeshiva that was complicit in enabling a child molester, then they should be held culpable. How many yeshivos were sued and forced into bankruptcy in California, where similar legislation was enacted? Don't you think that any judge or court will take into account if the admniistration of a yeshiva has changed?

Your case of the rabbi who molested is a prime example of what is wrong with your system of handling these matters "internally". Can you be certain that he didn't go on to molest hundreds of other children? What was to stop him from finding another job in another city or community? How many cases do we know of where that is exactly what happened? I do not want to start naming names on this holy blog. Suffice it to say that Rabbi Horowitz, Dr. Twerski and others know of too many such cases.

False accusations is not an excuse to thwart legislation that has been proven to help protect innocent children. Any frivolous lawsuit or fabrication will be summarily thrown out by the judges. We need to have faith in the justice system of our great country. It is also highly unlikely for a fabricator to pursue his lies in court, for fear of perjuring himself and being exposed as a vicious liar. Furthermore, what's to stop a fabricator from filing a false lawsuit today and claiming that the abuse occurred within the statute of limitations? Why do they need the Markey bill to file false claims? After all, their allegations would be more believable if they were more recent. The Catholic Church has been using the same futile excuse of false accusations for years in order to continue their coverups. I should hope that we are better than the Catholic Church. To partner with them to thwart legislation that would benefit sexual abuse victims and protect our children, is nothing short of criminal. It is a chiyuv to publicize this evil that is being perpetrated.


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9. Gregaaron     11/19/09 - 11:12 PM
Anonymous

It is very judgmental of you to say that those tzadikim who are suing yeshivas are doing so for lust of money.

In fact there are yeshivas that have known molesters PRESENTLY in classrooms. We all know there are many with blood on their hands.

What you don't understand is that the molester is to some extent a "shoyteh" but the yeshivas are the real danger because they know of the abuse and they harobor molesters of yiddishe kinder because of their own reputations and their own "lust for money". They are the ones who are not ashamed to tell the whole world that they care more about their money than children's safety in condemning the Child Victims Act.


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10. Watch what you say about our friends!     11/19/09 - 11:28 PM
Catholic Church

Steve,

As Rabbi Horowitz pointed out when he wrote about the Markey bill, we need to be very careful not to offend our friends who help us with crucial issues to the frum community such as gay marriage. If we go against them with child abuse and try to stop them, it will weaken them in their fight against gays.

So, we need to fight gay marriage and promote gay rabbis. If an adult has homosexual sex with a kid, that's ok, but as the Agudah statement loudly proclaims, what two adults do consensually is To'eyva and we will NOT tolerate it!

Steve, where are your priorities?


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11. to steve     11/19/09 - 11:34 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Steve:

Dr. Twerski and I were careful to steer away from the wide range of issues that are part of the abuse matter because we wanted the attention on our message which is that victims should go for help.

I am proud of my opposition to the Markey Bill which I felt and feel was a flawed and vindictive piece of legislation that did absolutely nothing to protect today's children.

You are welcome to voice your opposition to my stand and, as you notice, none of the words you posted were edited at all. But this is not the time or place for this discussion.

The fact is that a young man took his life and that many victims are unsettled by all this churn over the events.

With all due respect, Steve, despite your harsh view of my positions and motives, many victims correctly understand me to be their advocate and seek my advice regularly. And I am very worried by the fact that so many of them are not seeking professional treatment.

Can we please agree to stay on topic for the time being and debate Markey later? I didn't edit your comments now and will not later.

Dr. Twerski and I have an important message to victims. Help us get the word out.

Thank you.


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12. To Anonymous #9     11/20/09 - 12:00 AM
gregaaron

Having spoken to some, I do understand what goes on in the mind of a child molestor. I don't deny that not everything done is perfect, but if it comes down to da'as Torah versus what some "advocates" tell me is right (and by the fact that you read this blog, you understand that there is something to be said for the da'as Torah point of view), I'll stick with the Rabbonim.

If I'm wrong, well, after 120 I will proudly say that I held by my Rebbeim and Roshei Yeshiva. If you're wrong, though, what will you be able to say in your defense? Add all of this to the fact that I think these Rabbonim did not get to be that way by accident, and they do know more than many like to give them credit for, and I stand by my position.


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13.     11/20/09 - 12:40 AM
Frum therapist

Rabbi Horowitz,

With all due respect, Steve is right on. Let us all keep in mind in our rush to push therapy as the be all and end all of help for survivors that the worst and most prolific instance of child sexual abuse in our communal history was by a therapist Mondrowitz, who was a "specialist" in teens at risk.

The most recent conviction in Brooklyn was of Yona Weinberg who was also a therapist.

Therapy is not a magic pill. We must stop molesters. The best way proven to stop them is the CVA. How dare you call it vindictive? How dare you?


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14. Posting     11/20/09 - 7:12 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Dear Readers:

Until Monday, November 30, comments from readers on the topic of the Markey Bill will not be posted on this site. Comments critical of this post on its merits or anything I've written are welcome. But as I mentioned in a post on this thread, this essay has a message that needs to get out -- that victims need to go for professional help.

There are other websites where you may feel free to comment on this essay or my positions. If you feel that I no longer have the right or obligation to do what I have done for over 7 years (not anon, but in my own name and in very pulic venues, and long before it was acceptable or popular to do so) advocating for abuse victims -- because of my stand on the Markey Bill; you can post your thoughts there or wait 10 days and post them here.

If you were abused, know someone who was, that is our suggestion -- to get professional help.

I think that it is literally pikuach nefesh that victims go for help.

Comments that distract from that message will wait for a later date.

Yakov


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15. Rabbi Horowitz, I Am Right On Topic     11/20/09 - 10:44 AM
steve - Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Horowitz,

With all due respect, the subject of the Markey Bill goes right to the heart of your article. Your article is primarily geared to adults that were sexually abused as children. As you well know, it takes several years for a victim to come to terms with what happened to him. The advice that you are giving here to seek professional treatment rings very hollow. On the one hand, you are extending your hand and telling them how much you care. On the other hand, your lobbying efforts against the legislation has effectively muzzled the victims and sent a strong message that it is more important to protect financial assets of yeshivos rather than allow them to seek legal recourse and closure. As much as you try to separate the two, it is impossible, because in order for these victims to begin a healing process, they must feel that the community and its leadership is behind them and ready to support them. The opposition from yourself and the Agudah is a slap in the face and all your "get help" advice is meaningless. The way to help these victims is: A)Working on changing the sick attitude that pervades us, that sexual abuse victims are "damaged goods" when it comes to shidduchim. B)Working together with the JBAC to provide financial support, medical support and moral support. C)Identifying the child molesters and working to bring them to justice. If they are past the SOL, they must be exposed and removed from regular contact with children. D)Supporting legislation that will give these victims an opportunity to identify their molesters and to seek restitution from all that abused them.

As the poster above mentioned, it is very expensive for these victims to seek therapy. We as a community are all guilty for allowing the situation to fester for decades. We have created an environment where child molesters have been free to molest our children at will without any consequence. The Noveminsker Rav mentioned at the Agudah dinner the importance of "Tikkun Haovar". We are all mechuyav in this. The way to begin this tikkun is the four steps I listed above. We must establish a fund that will cover all the mental health expenses. It's the least we can do.


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16. "Therapy" that includes cesnsorship?     11/20/09 - 2:06 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

It most certainly is pikuach nefesh.

But by stating that survivors are not welcome here to discuss their feelings until a later date, how can they possibly feel that we as a community really want to hear them? And so, it is circular reasoning to believe if we "convince" them to go to therapy that will solve their problems. Many survivors take years to open up in therapy about their abuse. In fact, I would not be surprised if Motty Borger WAS in therapy when he was niftar.

But if the message we continue to give survivors is to keep quiet about how they really feel, then survivors are being litteraly killed by our community. Silence kills.

All the therapy in the world is not going to save someone who is suicidal, who feels that the entire community has turned its back on him or her, and not only allowed the abuse, honored the abusers, and tried to shut them up in every way possible including calling them sick and vindictive (words not used to describe the molesters and their supporters)for trying to use the courts to stop their molesters. This person is continually "raped" day after day by the community he or she lives in.

Almost all the survivors of abuse I have worked with have stated that the need for secrecy, be it from rabbinic pressure, communal pressure, "compassion" for the molester's innocent family, or stigma about shidduchim, is much more traumatic than the actual abuse itself.

As long as all of us allow this, going to therapy is like being "Toyvel V'sheretz Byado", and we will have many more suicides, Hashem Yerachem.

I even know of molesters who are wealthy who have offered to pay for their victims' therapy, even as they continue to molest. This article does not even offer any practical ideas on how to do that...to help victims afford their therapy.


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17. Fair Point     11/20/09 - 4:21 PM
Yakov Horowitz

My dear chaver Asher Lipner makes a fair point and says that the repression of abuse matters and denying readers the opportunity to express their displeasure at my stand on Markey is part and parcel of what troubles so many abuse victims.

Asher; natzcuni chaverei

I will post your comments and others on Markey.

Gut Shabbos

Yakov


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18. Our matzav and why this is eis laasos     11/21/09 - 2:22 PM
Mosheh - Ariel, eretz yisroel

Rabbi Horowitz,

I am one of those many people who were victimized. Rabbonim, Mr Hilkind, you and others know the name and know he is still at work. I have been in therapy and I have gained a great deal. I am now back on the derech. But I could easily have ended like Motty. I tried and luckily I failed.

We must admit the truth. There isn't enough money for therapy. The money of the mosdos who continue to employ the molesters is stolen money, stolen from our neshomos. We both know that many of the those who shout to fight toevah among goyim, covered it up when I and many others were raped and tormented to the very point that so many of us despaired of life, of hashem, of love, and of yiddishkeit.

From friends I know that you have done some very good work healing. But I also know that that you will not stop those that would torment my family (who knows my story) if I were to come out and say what happened, who did it, and who keeps them still in power. Can you get my family protected and get my younger sister a shidduch. No! Is LM's yeshiva been put in cherem for YK(who was not my tormenter)? No! Would we have seen some recent concern without the arrests and lawsuits? No! Has anyone arrested been needlessly ruined by the courts system? No!

You are very fastidious about the informal reputations of those falsely accused. What of the shidduchim of those who are raped and then if the facts get out, they are ruined for shidduchim, not the rapist? Are you going to defend their shidduchim? No. Will you defend their right to say the emes.No! You know many of the disgusting facts about the molesters in our midst. Did you ever stop one of those men from getting an aliyah, from holding the sefer torah with the same filthy hands with which they destroyed the holiness of some of children? No!

Rabbi Horowitz, I boruch hashem have reached the point where I will not take my life. But sometimes I cry when I hear those who should be our protectors defaming us.

I know you can only do so much. But do not prostitute your integrity by defending those who are accomlices of the molesters. Give us some hope. If not, at least let us know you have not betrayed us.

Even if you could get every Toeivinik out of every Yeshivah in NY fired does your protection extend to EY, or Australia, or to non-Jewish kids (like the Italians who were witnesses against the mass toevanik, Avrohom Mondrowiz). Tell me Rabbi Horowitz, does Ger pay for therapy of the victims of molesting. Does Agudah have the courage to throw Ger out?

You are a good man. If like B Twerski you say, I have been hounded out of askanos


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19. To Dr. Lipner     11/21/09 - 6:02 PM
gregaaron

First of all, thank you Rabbi Horowitz:

Dr. Lipner: I acknowledge that you have much experience in the matter (we've actually communicated before, although I was under a different name), and I am therefore asking you - what could be gained by the passing of the Markey bill? I highly doubt it would weed out the molesters that are already there, and I don't think that there is a place in Halacha for punitive "psychological" damages. Are molesters rodfim? Absolutely. Do they need to be exposed and stopped? Of course. But the method that many people have been trying to take - basically, accuse everyone and hope that we get a shot in the dark - doesn't seem to be exactly right to me.

I know that you were a big supporter of the Markey bill; please explain your reasoning.

(As an aside, a big yasher koach to Rabbi Horowitz for being the only blog - at least that I have found - where rational conversation is possible.)


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20.     11/21/09 - 7:40 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner

Reb Yankie,

Thank you for reconsidering. It takes a real "Chacham" to be "loymed mikol adam", which is in fact a refreshing strength of this website.

Gregaaron:

If you sincerely wish to learn the reasons why the Child Victims Act would help our community identify molesters, I encourage you to purchase (it is not expensive) Marci Hamilton's book "Justice Denied: What America Needs To Do To Protect Its Children". In it she shows that since victims of abuse take many years before they are ready to confront their molesters, statutes of limitations laws are a huge impediment on society from identifying many molesters.

One glaring example is that there is a molester who has been identified on Dov Hikind's radio show and is still teaching in a Brooklyn yehivah. There has been no forensic or psychiatric evaluation done on him by professionals and the yeshiva continues to back him. His accuser has gone to the police and has sued the yeshiva NOT for the purpose of "justice," which, by the way is a Torah concept, as Rabbi Horowitz has described many times, but soleley to get his molester out of the classroom away from innocent children whose parents have full misplaced faith in the system. What stops him from succeeding are the statutes of limitations that the Markey bill will change.

So, since neither Dov Hikind, nor I, nor Rabbi Horowitz, nor yourself has any other way of keeping this alleged molester away from children, we need the Markey bill to pass. Keep in mind that Gedolei haposkim have said that going to the police is a mitzvah, but when the police are themselves frustrated by ridiculous statutes, we must change them.

As for the controversial "window" provision that allows people to sue their molesters and the institutions that criminally aided and abetted them in the past, the evidence is that such window legislation when passed in other states has helped identify over 360 molesters because lawsuits for whatever reason seem to be the way that survivors best get their day in court. It works. It just works. That is why the two frum Assemblymen, Dov Hikind and Sheldon Silver have both strongly backed the initiative, Dov by co-sponsoring it, and Shelly by voting for it three times so far.

For those like Rabbi Horowitz who argue that better legislation is necessary, there is no "stira". This one has been shown to work. But the JBAC is lobbying for other legislation that will also protect children. Please go on to our website: jewishadvocates.org and see our position paper. So far, we have received no official endorsement from the Agudah, Torah Umesorah, or Project Yes for ANY of our ideas.

Once again, if these leaders have better legislation in mind, what in the world are they waiting for to introduce it through their political ties? They have spent enormous time lobbying against Toeyva marriages. What about Toeyva rabbis?

Asher


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21. Psychological damages     11/21/09 - 8:00 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Gregaaron,

One of the chiyuvim for paying for damages for adam hamazik (hachovel bechaveiro) is "Boyshes". Humiliation. It is no coincidence that this is learned out from the Torah from a case of sexual abuse, namely "Vehechezika Bimvushov...vkatza es kappa" - "She grabs his private parts...and you shall cut off her hand", which is understood by torah shebaal peh to mean monetary payment.

Two other of the five chiyuvim are for Tzaar (pain suffering) and Ripuy (medical bills). That no beys din I know of has yet publicly required a molester to pay these, is most likely because most batie din do not yet believe that molestation occurs in our community. But the chiyuv remains.

I am involved right now in one beys din that is holding a sexual abuser accountalbe for such damages. It is in a rare case where the abuser has already admitted the abuse.

To be sure, this is not a punishment. It is what is owed according to halacha.

Punishment would be more along the lines of what Reb Eliezer Silver, Z"TL said, that molesters should be put in cherem and not allowed into any shul. This is exactly, ironically the "punishment" that has been meted out by our community to many of the advocates who stand up for victims of abuse.

Oylam Hafuchos.


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22.     11/21/09 - 8:16 PM
Molested in Monsey

Rabbi Horowitz, I need to take you to task after reading this article and and the ensuing comments. I wrote a letter to you Sunday Jan. 11 2009 through this site when I mistakenly thought moderation was in place. You were on a plane in Dallas at the time and I tracked you down in a panic to have the letter removed from the site. It named my molester and the institution in which the abuse took place. My rapist was a colleague of yours.

Other than a letter stating that you took it down, I heard nothing in response nor have I seen any community reaction. I gave you one on a silver platter. This was thoroughly verifiable by the details enclosed such as place of employment and the fact that he was fired for molestation. Where was the reaction? Why is he still walking the streets? Why do I need to cringe, recoil and walk the other way when I bump into this menuval?

I took him down at my personal expense because I heard that complaints were lodged against him by 2 children. There was a 25 year span between me and these kids! My thoughts were that I was the only one. Let it go, move on with your life and dance on his grave when he dies. Let G-d take care of him. How wrong I was! How many more suffered at this murderers hands in 25 years?

My life did not get any better post revelation. Only worse. Who pays? So far I am the only one who has. How do you put a price on the emotional pain and extreme embarrassment reliving and revealing the sordid details of molestation to Rabbonom and community askonim who you live amongst and see regularly? What price will I yet pay in the future? It does not get any better.

I apologize for the Chutzpah but it seems to me that the Rabbonim have great big mouths telling victims to get therapy but small wallets to support what they say. The person who was victimized on their watch years ago would love to get help but is drowning under a pile of bills and they the Rabbonim want to add another biggie to that pile. There are many Yeshivas who are wealthy and have much to protect. Doing the right thing means little. The cost of therapy for a victim and family is approximately $7000 per year. They don't feel a responsibility toward the victims who were supposed to be safe within their schools.

They can establish a fund but are not man enough to do so. It is certainly easier for the victims to pay and leave them out of it. The Statute Of Limitations should mean little, Markey Bill or not. The Yeshivas should be sued. If enough people come forward the older victims will be evidence for the newer ones in establishing a chain of events. They can win this way. In any case the Yeshiva will lose by defense fees and bad publicity. The very least a Yeshiva can do to help would be to set up a private account to which the therapist of the victim's choice can send a bill and have it covered. This way victims can come forward anonymously and get the help they need while molesters will be exposed and dealt with. This is the cheapest approach a Yeshiva can possibly have addressing this problem. The Yeshiva can avoid being sued by at least providing some healing.

A little good will goes a long way. The longer they wait, the bigger the explosion will be. The underside of the carpet has no more space. The responsibility clearly needs to be removed from the victim in getting help.


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23.     11/21/09 - 8:42 PM
Benzion Twerski

I will contribute my echo that a sound, mentchlich discussion about Markey is warranted, though I am not sure whether it matters today. (I am not up to date on doings in Albany.) I propose this have a different forum.

The purpose of this article was to address one single aspect of the problem, with full awareness that there are many others. Victims should get help. Whether one is pro or anti-Markey makes zero difference. No extent of lawsuits will accomplish that which needs therapy. We can also debate whether there is therapeutic benefit to civil court action. I have my opinion, and others have voiced theirs in earlier discussions. Of course, we each think we are right, but the dialogue was respectful.

I would hope that readers not address the “omissions” from this article as statements of anything. I speak for myself, but I am quite certain that Rabbi Horowitz is in full agreement, that the goal was to address a single segment. Whether his hands or mine are “dirty” with regards to any other issues is irrelevant. You do not have to eat from my shechita (I am not a shochet). But if the message that was said is good, hear it and do the best you can with it. If you have issues with the messengers, deal with them separately. Do not dilute the message. All we want to do is perhaps save a life of someone in trouble. Honestly, neither of us was thinking of anything else.

One of the comments was “right on the money”. The issue is, “Who should pay for the therapy?” I must agree that this is a great question. I will report that I had a situation some time ago in which molestation had occurred. I had a brief period of working with the perpetrator (the children had other therapists, and dealt with the reporting). One of the issues I handled was insuring that the perpetrator fund the therapy for the victims. It does not do much, but there is precious little else that he could have done to reduce their pain. This issue is a valid one, and one that needs to be addressed. Thank you for raising it. I wish I could snap off an easy answer for this one.


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24. Dr. Lipner & Molested in Monsey     11/22/09 - 12:50 AM
Gregaaron

Dr. Lipner -

Thanks for responding. I have seen that site, as well as a few others. The problem is - and I know you will disagree - that site does not reflect da'as torah, not in the least. Yes, there are many who say that it is that very da'as torah which has "failed" us all this time, but I rely on 5,000+ years of Mesorah to find the right answer to this mess. The main thing that got me through everything that was done to me was the fact that we believe that there is din v'cheshon, and after 120 everything will even out for both me, and my abuser. It took me a while to reach that conclusion, and my rabbeim (ironically) are the ones who got me there (even though most of them didn't realize why I was so "into" that). More than anyone without such hashakafos could have done, that's what's given me peace. I understand that I have the advantage of growing up in an atmosphere that emphasizes emunah, but that was what did it for me.

Are there still issues which will probably be there for the rest of my life? Of course. But this is the pekeleh I've been dealt by the One upstairs, and he has his cheshbonos for why we all go through what we do.

Molested in Monsey-

It seems we share a common denominator. I admit I have the blood of at least one kid - who was abused by the same Rebbi as you and I - on my hands, because I didn't talk sooner. That being said, however, I am happy with the fact that he is no longer teaching (and cannot get a job anywhere near kids - I know very well of a camp that was going to hire him, but was informed of his issues) is enough for me. He has an entire family that would be ruined. And no, they do not deserve it. It may be true that countless other families have been destroyed because of what he did, but again, lo yumsu bonim al avos - and as long as there is no present danger, I'd rather get my makeup s'char - and see his onesh - in the next world. Maybe I should have ta'aynos on the Yeshiva for keeping him there, but I am certainly not interested in bringing down the Yeshiva now (keep in mind that no one who was in any position of power then - unless you're talking about the last 15 years - is still there.)

Hatzlacha with overcoming it.


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25. A Prediction Grounded in Reality     11/22/09 - 10:01 AM
Chozeh of - Chicago

Dr. Twerski, the following is a direct quote from you not on this site:

"Who should be paying for the therapy? I guess we might take the stand that the perp should do this, but that sounds too simple. What if the perp refuses or lacks the funds (now that we have elected to have him thrown out of his job)?"

You are 100% accurate in your assessmnt why working through a Bais Din and internal measures just won't work. We need the Court system with enforcement authority to get things done. The molester must be held liable and enforced payment even if they have to flip burgers for the rest of their miserable existence on this world.

If the man "runs out of funds" is no excuse. He took it upon himself to ruin another person's life, too bad on him to beg for mercy now.

The lame excuse of "Lo Yumsu" doesn't hold water. No one is asking for the wife to stay married to a terrorist. If she stays out of her own choice, she's a fool and deserves no pity. Children too can cut off contact with the terrorist. There are many people who would be meshadech with them. (Either because they have similar histories, or they don't believe "lashon harah")

Don't forget what the Unions accomplished just last week. They got Agri on a technicality of immigration (not enforced nowadays) which out of desperation caused fraud. They got their convictions on the fraud charges.

By standing up and placing stumbling blocks in front of those pursuing justice (i.e. blocking Markey) the victims will eventually succeed in a far more damaging way. THE WHEELS OF JUSTICE TURN SLOWLY! BUT, EVENTUALLY ARRIVE AT THE DESIRED RESULT ONE WAY OR ANOTHER.

By saving money on nezek, tzaar, ripui, and boshes, all you are assuring is: Eventually the community will have to pay "pidyon Shevuyim" for a Federal indictment.


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26. 23 Leaving Markey out of this discussion     11/22/09 - 10:37 AM
Anonymous

In a black and white world with simple problems and easy answers, perhaps we could fine-tune the discussion into a neat, comfortable category. We could schedule a dialogue about therapy for this week, a discussion about deterrence for next week, and a thread devoted to legislation for the week after. Unfortunately, the issue here is so very complex and emotionally tangled--it is impossible to tease out subtopics in a way which addresses the general problem with candor and honesty.

The integrity of the discussion, i would add, is further compromised by a sense that certain tangents are off limits not because they are simply off topic, but also because there exists an opposition and a frustration with some views which may surface.

As individuals post comments, they are free to narrow their focus in a way which feels comfortable and manageable to them, but those with more complicated, personal reactions to the issues will have a harder time assuming the clean, objective stance you would like. For victims, this complex internal state is in itself an indication that therapy is in order, and i believe it is unfair to shut out their perspective simply because it doesn't fit the tidy boundaries we would like to define. Thanks to their abuse, their lives aren't particularly tidy and simple either.


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27.     11/22/09 - 10:48 AM
Benzion Twerski

Dear Chozeh:

You missed my point. It is certainly reasonable to put the expense of the therapy on the one that caused the injury. I am asking whether this will result in the therapy being paid for. The question is a practical one, not a moral one. We are probably all in agreement about the moral responsibilities here. I want to know if our dictates are enforceable.

Perhaps the secular justice system has more clout. But how do they handle a divorced father who fails to pay child support? Jail time does not reimburse the custodial mother. Again, this is not an airtight solution. I do not disagree that the chazzer should pay his portion. But will he? Can we be assured that this will be done?


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28. How to make them pay?     11/22/09 - 12:53 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

The least our community could do to child molesters is what the Jewish Press does for men who do not give their wives a get.

Put a list of them every week. If someone sells treife chickens, he is run out of town on a rail, the more public embarrassment the better, as a punishment and a deterrent "lmaan yishm'u v'yirau". The "Meagnim" are not a danger to anyone, so the question of "lashon harah, etc." needs a shayla. But molesters are roydfim, so no such shayla must be asked.

In order to be removed from the published list, the molesters would need to make restitution, get treatment and follow safety guidelines of a professional forensic psychologist who is certified by ATSA (Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers), apologize to his victims, when appropriate, etc.

If someone in our community does not pay schar limud, out the door go their kids. If someone reports to the police on a molester who is connected to a Rebbe or a Rosh Yeshiva, out the door go their kids. If someone admits to having a television in their house, out the door goes their kids (because presumably we cannot tolerate the "hasphaa" on other children from such a terrible home).

But if someone molests innocent children?

Of course, in order for this to work, we would actually have to admit there are molesters among us, something for some reason, none of us want to do. Rabbi Horowitz and Dr. Twerski talk about all the victims of molestation, but who molested them? Martians? Or like the parents of the 7 year old girl from Williamsburg, raped by a neighbor, who will only consider sending her for therapy if she will say it was a goy who did it?


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29. To Dr. Lipner     11/22/09 - 12:55 PM
gregaaron

I concede your point on the payments required by the Torah, although I would need to review the Gemara about boshes when there's no one else around (meaning, is internal embarrassment counted? I'm pretty sure the Gemara in Bava Kamma mentions it, although I don't remember where off the top of my head). You're absolutely right about that...but the secular courts don't work on our system, and either way, there is no chiyuv for anyone other than the actual abuser to pay. Again, if one doesn't get their payments back in this world, they'll get it in the next (and, as a victim, I think I have a right to say that).

To Chozeh:

Please don't bring unrelated matters into what has been a very intelligent conversation. I don't know who you are, to decide that the community is paying for alleged federal violations because we haven't done enough to punish child molesters. And whether or not you agree that one's family should be taken into consideration, don't make light of it - I would venture to say that most people would NOT want to be meshadech with them. If they say no because of plastic tablecloths and the like, halo hadvroim kal v'chomer?

Do we have the right solution? Again, no. But nowhere do we have the right to do anything we want, just because we feel it's "for the greater good". If you go to the Rabbonim in the Agudah for Brachos, and you give them Kavod when they come to your neighborhood - as you should - it shows that you feel they have some semblance of a head on their shoulders. Don't pick and choose what they're right and wrong about, based on your own personal biases. It has become politically correct to shout, "Mi l'hashem eilay!" and ruthlessly pursue child molesters - act first and ask questions later. But that has NEVER been the way that our nation works, and we shouldn't be changing 5,000+ years of Mesorah now.


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30. Payment for therapy     11/22/09 - 1:03 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Since the Agudah and Torah Umesorah say they care greatly for children's safety and for the victims of abuse that were hurt under their watch, but they don't want Yeshivas and shuls and camps to be sued, here is the OBVIOUS answer:

Set up a fund for victims' therapy. Each moysad has to give 1% of its annual budget. That is "mayser min hamayser". Or at least 1/2 a percent.

Not only will this save lives as the authors point out, which is a paramount Mitzvah, and be a kiddush Hashem, but will as others point out, save money from future lawsuit settlements and legal fees.

It will also stem the tide of kids going off the derech, a huge proportion of whom have been molested. This investment will add to the eventual total of healthy kids going to yeshivas, even paying FINANCIAL dividends to the system. We can be "oychel payros b'aoylam hazeh v'hakeren kayemes l'aolom habah".

Rabbi Horowitz, and Dr. Twerski, if you agree, can you please ask them for us? If you don't, can you please say why?

Asher


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31. The therapy fund     11/22/09 - 3:46 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

My previous suggestion of 1/2 of 1% from each moysad's annual budget would mean the following:

If a Camp has a budget of 1/2 a million dollars a year, it would be required to donate 2500 dollars. If a shul has a budget of a million dollars, it would be required to donate 5000 dollars. Yeshivas with budgets of 10 million dollars would be required to donate 50,000 dollars a year. The Agudas Yisroel and Torah Umesorah would probably want to give a little bit more like maybe 5% of their annual budgets, even though it might mean spending a little bit less on fighting gay marriage, and some of their other important works. For example, the amount of money they spend on the "elegant dining" at the annual convention could be cut down a bit and that money contributed to the fund. Also, all of those yeshivas that are giving "retirement/pension funds" to molesters, (TT, NY, etc.) perhaps could cut those funds a bit to contribute more (even though it might make it diffictult for the innocent families of the molesters). These are a few suggestions. When you add it all up, I think that we could net over a half a million a year, which at the rate of 6-7000 per therapy patient, would pay for the therapy of close to 100 victims a year.

Another thing that might work, is if the Gedolim would actually make a letter writing campaign to baal habatim to "open their hearts" etc. the way I get about 10 such letters a week for other worthy causes. Out of about 500 or so letters a year, it would be nice, one again, if 1% were to support victims of abuse that are the most neglected people in our community.

I have been criticized for calling our leaders heartless, when it comes to this issue for not coming up with these ideas, and showing no interest in implementing them. I would love to be able to see it differently. Could someone please explain to me, how I could possibly do so?


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32. About Dr. Lipner's "ma'aser" idea     11/22/09 - 3:48 PM
gregaaron

Dr. Lipner -

With all due respect, I think that you are allowing your own personal area of expertise to become disproportionally large in terms of the klal's chiyuv. Yes, it is a huge deal - that has been established. However, there are other groups of people in our communities who are just as needy for your said ma'aser.

Take the Yeshivos themselves, for example. Do you have any idea how far in debt so many of our Yeshivos - including some of the "wealthy" ones - are? Do you understand the fact that Rebbeim and teachers are getting paid months late? These are the ones who should be the most handsomely compensated, and not only do they earn dirt, they often don't even get that when it's deserved! And Yeshivos serve the entire community - not just the small percentage (bigger than most people think, but still a minority) who get molested.

Again, we do need to find some way of funding this therapy. But to saddle the Yeshivos with it is unfair, and not where we should be directing our scarce dollars.


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33. 30 paying for therapy     11/22/09 - 3:53 PM
Anonymous

As every effective marketing campaign for fundraising knows, rachmonus is an important motivator for contribution. This is the reason the literature for tzedokoh fundraising goes into detailed descriptions of heartwrenching situations. But here the nature of the problem and the communal denial which surrounds it assures that we will never even know if our own neighbor's child, chas veshalom, is the victim of abuse--the existence of molesters and victims remain basicallly theoretical in the public imagination. The communal sense of urgency to dedicate funds to the cause of therapy is in direct proportion to how strongly the victims are encouraged to share their pain. The denial of an invitation to speak up is a cost of our opposition to measures such as the Markey bill, regardless of whether we believe the bill will accomplish its intended purpose. In denying victims' voices, we deny them the opportunity to heal.


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34. Fund for victims     11/22/09 - 4:08 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Asher:

I think a fund for victims is an excellent idea and I would be glad to work on it. It would need to be carefully crafted to be completely transparent and managed professionally.

I would gladly work on it pro bono taking orders from others, but due to the current climate, I regretfully cannot assume any leadership role at all.


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35.     11/22/09 - 5:10 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Do you think a letter to the Agudah and Torah Umesorah asking for their input and assistance on this would be a good place to start.

Perhaps this is one area in which the JBAC and the establishment can make peace and work together, leaving the "machlokes" re. the Markey bill aside?

Asher


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36. To 32 and 33     11/22/09 - 5:19 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Gregaaron, I was not only saying that the yeshivas should do this out of rachmanus on victims. I was saying they should do this also out of rachmanus to themselves to avoid multimillion dollar lawsuits such as they acknowledge they are facing. Even if Markey never passes, the time is fast approaching when parents of victims under the age of 23 are going to be suing for millions, whether we agree or not. It's the metzius. Looks at the Catholic Church. 2.5 billion dollars in settlements and counting so far with no end in sight. A priest who was a lawyer once told them before any of this that they would end up paying more than a billion dollars one day. He was told "nobody will ever sue the Catholic Church".

Eyzehu Chacham Haroeh Es Hanolad.

To writer 33: Excellent point. However the audiotape of the event in Passaic with 4 adult and one teenage survivor telling their stories is available. For those who want to start fundraising, it can be used. Unfortunatley, many of the powers that be are trying to make sure nobody hears it, because there are names of some prominent molesters there, as well as some criticism (chas v'shalom) of our leaders, rachman litzlan. However, a friend of mine is editing it to have only the stories without the criticisms, so we can use it to win people over to our cause. Thanks for your advice!

Asher


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37. Seperating the questions of therapy from communal level changes     11/22/09 - 6:16 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin, frumfollies blogger - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Dear Rabbi Horowitz,

I want to thank you for your decision to leave your discussion board open for the issues related to how to finance individual treatment. I apologize for some of my harsh and accusatory language. At the same time I feel strongly that all the issues related to solving this problem need to be kept in mind even as we address the immediate needs of survivors of abuse.

With that in mind I would like to make the following suggestion. Why not run several threads concurrently. Perhaps those threads could include: 1. Seeking help if you or someone close to you was sexually abused 2. Paying for therapy 3. Educating your children to prevent molesting and to get them to tell you about it. 4. Making sure survivors can be heard 5. Assuring that Molesters are identified and stopped

I am very comfortable with someone who sees your article clicking on item 1 as long as all readers understand that the other issues are on the table. I think you have done excellent work on 1 and 3 and I doubt I have much to add to those threads. I agree some readers are best served by going to 1 or 3. I just feel there are survivors who need to know, 2, 4 and 5 are being addressed. Certainly I know many of us, whatever our disagreements about tactics agree on the importance of making progress on these areas.

Thank you again for your good work and may we soon get closer to a much better matzav in all these areas.


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38. 35     11/22/09 - 6:20 PM
Anonymous

The most reliable predicter of future behavior is past behavior, and therefore i would not invest much hope in the dream that Agudah and TU would suddenly become potent allies in your crusade...So, no, i dont think they are the place to begin and im not sure to what degree we may count on their support at all.


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39. The culture of Shidduchim     11/22/09 - 6:41 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin FrumFollies - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

I would like to add on one more thread to the one's listed above, "changing the culture of shidduchim so it does not inhibit reporting and treating molestation"

Rabbi Horowitz, feel free to edit this into my previous post. I did not want to clutter your space by re-posting my last item in full.


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40. Columns and thoughts     11/22/09 - 7:04 PM
Yakov Horowitz

Yerachmiel

If you check my website now by going to the homepage; I moved some of columns around so my response to some of your questions can be answered.

In "Let the system work" Elliot Pasik and I clearly state what I've saying for a long time -- that victims should go directly to the police. Period.

In "Safe and Secure" I do my best to give parents practical advice to keep their children safe.

And there are other columns I've written re abuse that are posted there.

---------------------------

I can tell you that we need far more rational dialogue on this subject. There is far too little of that now.

---------------------------

Asher; I do not think you understand what financial pressure school heads are under. More later.


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41. Dr Lipner     11/22/09 - 7:43 PM
Anonymous

Certainly it is upsetting when organizations like TU and Agudah work AGAINST efforts advocating for victims of abuse, but these organizations have their hands very full especially in the current economic climate, it doesn't seem fair to say that unless they jump on your bandwagon and take on this cause with your level of enthusiasm, they are against children.

There are many, many worthy causes deserving leadership and funding. Maybe what we need is for a less saddled organization with responsibilities less broad then TU&AY to assume this cause with greater urgency and dedication.


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42. Cop out, city     11/22/09 - 10:45 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

To 41: They can't have it both ways. They can't say that they are too busy to save neshamas and then refuse to meet with those of us who are trying to because they "don't trust our agenda".

Like I said, if ONE out of their hundreds of letters would say to give money to the Jewish Board of Advocacy for Children, we would be willing to clean up the mess they have made. Until then it seems that it is up to the survivors alone. So this article's title "You are not alone", is shlugged up.

Rabbi Horowitz:

If the principals are overwhelmed with financial pressures, why are they continuing to jeapordize their finances by:

1) Refusing to put into place safety plans that would prevent future lawsuits?

2) Refusing to meet with survivors and give them a voice. This rejection causes many of the survivors and parents of survivors to feel more desparate, leading to more suicides, and more lawsuits, and to all of us wasting more time with these discussions as opposed to making more money for all moysdos?

Torah Umesorah's own lawyers wrote a letter to all of their principles advising some serious policy changes in yeshiva to prevent more cover-ups which would risk lawsuits. No yeshivas have instituted these policies, at least not to public knowledge. They have not warned parents, they have not begun to report to the authorities, and they have not participated in the "registry".

Reb Yankie, you are the one who says that a very large percentage of the at risk kids who you have to raise money for through Project YES were molested. Instead of trying to save them once they are going off the derech, why not spend the money on prevention and intervention when someone is molested to go to therapy BEFORE they end up at risk?

If the principals are not able or willing to protect THEMSELVES financially, yet alone the kinderlach's safety, perhaps the financial pressure is causing them to feel emotionally overwhelmed. Maybe we need to get some therapy for the Roshei Yeshiva and principals, et. al.?

I personally would be willing to see them at a reduced rate. I'm not joking. Helping them cope with this mess and do what needs to be done would be my personal contribution to the cause.


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43. Dr. Lipner (again)     11/22/09 - 10:49 PM
Gregaaron

I think we're kind of going in circles here, but I want to reiterate my postition. In theory, your idea is a good one, but in practice, it's just not feasible. As Rabbi Horowitz can attest to, Yeshivos are literally collapsing under crushing debt, and they just don't have the extra money to put away for this. Rabbeim need to be paid, and ein motzi'in safeik midei vadai - there is no justifiable way to take money earmarked for parnassah and put it into a fund (especially if this is a school that has never had a situation).

More than that, if people want to sue, they'll do it even if the Yeshiva puts aside money to a central fund. The whole thing is unreasonable anyway - for example, the school at which I was molested is under different management than it was then (one principal was in his second year or so, but that's about it), and for sure when earlier stories happened. If people are going to be able to get money even though that's the case, they'll be able to get it either way - the "feel good" donations notwithstanding.

Once again, I think that it really would be a nice idea. I just don't see it happening. Unless you know of some g'virim that are willing to contribute to this cause (and truth be told, there are more important chiyuvim that the Yeshivos have), it will just remain a nice idea.


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44.     11/22/09 - 11:23 PM
Yakov Horowitz

Asher, my dear chaver

you know I have great respect for your devotion to and passion for the cause of abuse victims.

But with all due respect, you (and lots of others)cannot have it both ways.

you can temper your frustration and work within the system or you can take potshots at "THEM" (agudah, torah umesorah, gedolim, rabbanim).

but you cannot take potshots and then expect to get "THEIR" trust and support which you will need in order to get the letters from agudah or torah umesorah that you are asking for.


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45. Gvirim?????     11/22/09 - 11:34 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Gregaaron,

There are lots of gvirim out there who follow daas torah. If daas torah would tell them to support this they would be glad to.

Instead of going aroung in circles, please let us ask daas torah to help us with moral support.

Like my rebby in yeshivah told me when trying to convince me to marry a poor girl and learn in kollel: If your father in law can't give you financial support at least he can give you moral support.

The point here is not only about money. Its about care and concern. Telling victims to "go to therapy" just doesn't cut it.

Rabbi Eisenman in Passaic showed he cared. His inviting survivors to speak publicly was worth a hundred sessions of therapy to us. It would not cost a single dime for all the principals to invite people to do the same. But they really don't care. It is not about money.

The reason that Dov Hikind got so many survivors to open up and tell him their stories is not because he is "mashiach". If anything he is a politician. People tend not to trust politicians. But because he showed he cared by anouncing that his phone line and office is open to survivors, they came in droves and poured out their hearts, and had a very therapeutic experience.

On the other side of the spectrum are the Agudah Rosh Yeshivas who not only do not invite them, but when asked for a meeting they closed their doors. Again, it is not about money, it is about letting the survivors know that they truly are NOT alone.


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46. "Pot shots"     11/23/09 - 12:33 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

When I have spoken to the Agudah and Torah Umesorah representatives, I have spoken very, very nicely. I have begged them, and pleaded with them. I have asked them pretty please, with a cherry on top.

But in reality, it is not I or the other survivors who need them to do US a favor. We are doing THEM a favor by giving them a chance to be heroes. We are offering them a way to save their own children.

You can ask anybody who I've worked with in therapy. If someone is suicidal for example, I try to talk them out of it very, very calmly and very, very nicely. But if they still want to do it, they know that I will not hesitate to call Hatzala and the police and have them taken to the emergency room in handcuffs if need be to save their life. It is not a pretty sight, and can often actually be traumatic for the patient. One tries to avoid this at all costs, but if it needs to be done, it needs to be done. One patient wanted to stop seeing me, until I explained to him that I'm sorry, but if he is standing near an open window and ready to jump, I would tackle him if I needed to to stop him.

When it comes to Pikuach Nefesh, there comes a time when formalities cannot take precedence over strong action.

The way I talk here is not the way I would talk to the powers that be if they would agree to meet with me. What is ironic is that even the more "aydel" survivors of abuse, of whom you and I both know several, cannot get a meeting with the Gedolim.

Bottom line. Whether they trust me, or anyone else. Whether their feelings are hurt by potshots or anything else. The ideas I am espousing to help save lives are ones they should have considered in their "five years of ongoing meetings about abuse" that the Yated reported they have been having. Instead, what do we get? More meetings.

Rather than criticize my "chutzpah", I would be open to any ideas on how I can go with derech eretz gamur and somehow, someway facilitate some kind of change. But just saying "talk nice and you will win their trust" doesn't hold water.

By the way, one of our chaverim told me privately that you will catch more bees with honey than with vinegar.

I said that I have tried for 25 years to use honey. Dr. Pelcovitz tried longer than that. Guess what? No bees. :-(

This year, some of us survivors tried a bit of vinegar. Guess what? TWENTY SIX bees! That's right. The D.A. in Brooklyn is now prosecuting 26 frum sexual predators, such an unprecedented occurence that it was written up on the front page of the NY Times. (Not that I respect that paper, but it does take a lot to get their attention, and they were writing it as a POSITIVE article about our community).

Apparently, when it comes to stopping abuse, we need lots of honey AND lots of vinegar.


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47. Communal support     11/23/09 - 9:22 AM
Yosef Blau - New York, New York - yosblau@gmail.com

Victims of abuse should get professional help in dealing with the trauma. However this proposal which places the responsibility and cost on the survivors alone without calling for communal support will not have much impact. Duplicating the model of Shalom Task Force which provides a full array of services for victims of domestic violence would be a better approach. As indicated by the previous responses the survivors need to have a sense that the rabbinical leadership fully grasps the problem of abuse in the community and is committed to its prevention. Yosef Blau


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48. Of bees, honey and vinegar     11/23/09 - 3:12 PM
gregaaron

Yes, Dr. Lipner, maybe there are now more bees.

But when you invite bees, remember that along with them comes their sting. A bee dies right after stinging someone else, but the pain can last a really long time.

The anti-frum have gotten their bees. After 120 years, we'll see how much they've been stung.


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49. Gregaaron, I feel your pain.     11/23/09 - 5:51 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D. - lipnera@gmail.com

One of the symptoms of surviving abuse, is that the anger we feel sometimes comes out at other people besides for our molester. I personally get more angry at the yeshiva that covered up for my molester than at the molester himself. Sometimes I even get angry at my friends who don't support me the exact way I would like, even though it is not their fault that I was hurt.

When you express anger at the anti-frum, I would ask you to consider who really is anti-frum? Are people who are putting other issues ahead of the safety of Jewish children not anti-frum? Who are you upset at and why?

If you do not feel comfortable talking about this on a blog, I am available to talk in private, as a friend.

Asher


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50. Achrayis     11/23/09 - 9:41 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin frumfollies.Wordpress.com - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

I completely agree: these are awful times to find money. They are harder than they were two years ago for yeshivas. They are also much harder for many families with income losses, and insurance being cut off because of unemployment or job changes. But as we all know, budget decisions in lean times reveal the true priorities. Moreover, I did not see money rushing to these needs before the mortgage crisis.

Achrayis means figuring out if the buffet at the Agudah convention should be down to the stuff that was considered fancy 40 years ago. It means encouraging weddings to be even smaller or more modest. As you know much of the non-orthodox world has undertaken contributions to maazon on Yom Kippur and for the seder. I am sure there are many ways to structure this. I am comfortable with a tactical discussion of feasibility once there is agreement in principal that that these needs must be funded. I would love to hear the ideas of many people . I suspect the best approach is one that none of us have mentioned yet. But it does not work to say money is tight.

Achrayis can be collective: If one yeshiva can afford less another can afford more.

Think of these expenditures as old IOUs that are being cashed in. If a parent paid tuition and their child was molested I would think they are entitled to a refund. Assume for them moment that each year a student stayed in that school after the molesting as a year where they probably did not do as well as they could have. Think of it as year where the parents were subjected to geneivas daas and failure of the yeshivah to deliver what was implied, a safe environment, certainly one that would not evoke the sensations of abuse or PTSD. Assume a year's tuition equals a year of therapy. Once the community as a whole accepts that there are these IOUs, the problem of repayment terms can be figured out. I can live with a discussion of structuring payment schedules and forms to lessen the burden on the payers. What makes me suspicious is the logic that says we dont owe it because money is tight. They don't say that to the gas company, even if they beg for an extension on an overdue bill.

Community leadership could do true teshuvah and admit the many errors that allowed this problem to fester. They could say now we must fix the damage AND prevent recurrences. We will show we are serious by saying there are costs that must be met. We have to pay for therapy. And as Asher argues, chatassi we caused boshes and we must allow some recovery through listening to the victims.

I am certain that when enough of the leadership at the highest levels does these things, the means to deal with the problems will be found.


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51. We Are ALL Only Human     11/24/09 - 10:13 AM
Anonymous

Yes; we are all only human, and biased, including Rabbi Horowitz. However, as a Chasidic Jew and a descendant of prominent ADMORIM (Chasidic Rabbonim) -- who were very careful to avoid even the appearance of conflict-of-interest -- I am very disappointed by Rabbi Horowitz, particularly by his vocal opposition to the Markey bill. As head of a Yeshiva and a long-time recipient of financial support from Agudath Israel, how can he be objective?

Rabbi Horowitz, did you hear the Chasidic explanation of why Moshe Rabeinu recused himself and did not Pasken the case of Bnos Tzelafchad? Because the Bnos Tzelafchad told him that their father was not a member of Adas Korach that rebelled against him! Even a kind word (Shochad Devarim) prevented the greatest man who ever lived from getting involved! Al Achas Kamma VeKamma, the rest of us.


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52. Agree with Comment No. 51     11/24/09 - 5:24 PM
Anonymous

"Lo Saamod Al Dam Re'echah!"

Who is worse: One who protects alleged perpetrators, or one who repeatedly claims to help the victims, but actually obstructs when real help (e.g., Markey)is available?

His teaming up with the Catholic Church renders his obstruction an even greater Chilul HASHEM!


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53. Yerachmiel's Comments/Questions     11/24/09 - 11:09 PM
Yakov Horowitz

Yerachmiel:

In response to your questions noted above;

1. Seeking help if you or someone close to you was sexually abused 2. Paying for therapy 3. Educating your children to prevent molesting and to get them to tell you about it. 4. Making sure survivors can be heard 5. Assuring that Molesters are identified and stopped -------------------

My responses would be

#1 and #5 -- I have been saying for years now that people should go directly to the police if they were molested or have credible information that a predator is molesting children. I could not be more clear than that. Elliot Pasik and I wrote a column in stating that plain and simple.

http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=1185&ThisGroup_ID=262&Type=Article&SID=2

#3 -- I feel that education is the key and by far the most effective tool to keep kids safe. One of my many reasons for opposing Markey was that there was no education component to it.

I wrote this in Mishpacha a while back

http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/PYes/ArticleDetails.cfm?Book_ID=934&ThisGroup_ID=346&Type=Article&SID=2

2 and 4 are both important components. Perhaps I will address them later in the week. (I actually did start working on some trains of thought and action re #2 already.)

Thanks for taking the time to post.

YH


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54. EMDR therapy for trauma victims     11/25/09 - 12:30 PM
Anonymous

i have heard that EMDR (eye movement desensitization) can help trauma victims (like vietnam vets, israeli victims of arab terror, etc.) finally go on with their lives without nightmares. R' Twerski- would you recommend this as the most effective approach for abuse victims? Also, are you talking specifically about sexual abuse, or physical, emotional, etc.?


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55. My apologies to Rabbi Horowitz: I was wrong in implying he did not support going to the police     11/25/09 - 2:40 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin frumfollies.Wordpress.com - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

My apologies. I have posted a correction on my website to make it clear that I was wrong. In fact, you do support reporting to the police.

http://frumfollies.wordpress.com/2009/11/25/rabbi-horowitz-i-stand-corrected-you-do-support-going-to-the-police/

I am sorry. I ask you to accept my apology?


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56.     11/25/09 - 3:00 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Yerachmiel:

You are a mentch and a stand-up guy for writing what you did.

No need to ask for an apology at all. You and I share the same passion for keeping kids safe.

I think agreeing to disagree over Markey is the way to go. If you notice; I asked Elliot Pasik to co-write the "Let the System Work" column not only because we worked together to have the Queens abuser arrested but because we wanted to send a message to the public that we very strongly disagreed on Markey but still are good friends and work together for our kids. We need more of that.

Yerachmiel; I do not know where you live, but if it is in the NYC area, I would like to extend you an invitation to come to Monsey and have a cup of coffee with me so we can discuss what we can do to move the agenda of children's safety forward.

B'kavod V'yedidus

Yakov


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57. protect our children at ALL COSTS     11/25/09 - 4:25 PM
Anonymous - brooklyn

It has been proven too many times.The perpetrators are being protected and the victims thrown to the dogs. We are talking about our children here, for heaven sakes. How does protecting our schools money become more important than protecting our children.Sue the schools maybe they will start taking this more seriously when they feel it in their pockets.

You fix the problem not the symptoms caused by the problem (LIKE THERAPY)


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58. Thank you and more about the problem of reporting     11/25/09 - 4:28 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin, frumfollies blogger - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Rabbi Horowitz,

Than you for your reply and for accepting my apology. But I beg to differ. I did need to ask for your forgiveness. Granted I expected you to offer it without my having to ask for it three times. In fact, I think one of the great steps forward was Rabbi Blau's fullfilment the requirements of thsuvah for his iniital mishandling of the Lanner accusations. I feel that we must reinstitute the practice in many areas of our communal lives, and not just in a superficial pro-forma manner (e.g., mistakes were made, but dont ask me to be specific about what mistakes or how I will change that). I think our community has suffered from too much attention to lashon horah at the expense of hilchos thsuvah. I was very impressed by Rabbi Eisenman's flyer for his event with the words, just before yom kippur, al chet shechatani b'giluy arayos.

BTW, some of my confusion came from reading your article just after some other material by Rabbi Twerski and confounding your thinking on reporting, because you were writing together about therapy.

BTW, I have just completed an exchange with Rabbi Twerski in my blog that references Rabbi Eliyashivs ruling supporting reporting to civil authorities if there are raglayim l'davar (litterally legs to the matter- if there is substance to the accusation). Unfortunately I have heard many variaant intereprestations, does it mean one complainant or more than one, etc. Unfortunately the devil is in the details and we know the devil usually tries to muddy the rules and the details in his favor, just as he has an unusual affinity for interpretations of lashon harah that the chofetz chaim never heard. I fear that much more needs to be done to elucidate this matter or else the ruling will become a dead letter or even worse a misused letter. It is clear to me that we need many more writings in English with examples just as they exist for many other areas of halachah.

Thank you for your invitation and I will reply to that seperately on private email.


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59. Comment No. 56     11/25/09 - 4:38 PM
Very Concerned Jew

I think agreeing to disagree over Markey is the way to go.

Rabbi Horowitz:

Obviously, the current situation is not acceptable. We need Markey or (as you maintain) a better alternative. As briefly as possible, please outline that superior alternative.

Considering the urgency of this matter, what are you doing to advance that alternative? As many of our brethren are suffering, words are not enough; action is required. It is encumbent upon you and the other opponents of Markey to develop and put in place a satisfactory alternative, immediately!

With apologies, I sincerely believe you and Agudah are not treating this matter with the seriousness and urgency it demands!

Respectfully,

Very Concerned Jew


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60. To Dr. Lipner & #59     11/25/09 - 6:00 PM
gregaaron

Dr. Lipner: Thanks for the offer; I'm not sure that you're reading me right, but I will send you an e-mail about that (assuming I remember to). Again, thanks for the respectful response.

#59: I ask from you what we've been talking about until now. People keep mentioning the Markey bill and all that it would have done. Putting aside any potential negative reprecussions for the time being, please explain exactly how Markey would've prevented future molesters.


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61. Rabbi Horowitz's Real Shita on Reporting to the Police     11/25/09 - 9:14 PM
Please, Nor a Bissel Emes...

It is more complex, Yerachmiel and everyone, than either yes or no.

Certainly, when it is either Mondrowitz who is no longer affiliated with an institution Rabbi Horowitz sides with going to the police. When it is about a young man working in a bakery likewise.

However, he, like many in our community cover up for those pedophiles who are connected to an institution like a yeshivah. In Monsey alone there are several that he knows about and together with his employers the Agudah rabbis, they are covering up. In Baltimore, because the most dangerous molester is affiliated with the yeshivah, (the one who molested Dr. Lipner), he and the Agudah will NEVER support going to the police. In Lakewood when someone did go to the police, the rabbis there are attacking him and bringing all kinds of pressure on him to drop charges. You will never hear Rabbi Horowitz condemn these rabbis in any way shape or form. He is more concerned with getting survivors to go to therapy. Even if this means that after therapy they can get married and have kids who will then be molested in their yeshivas and we go veiter in circles. A bi not to criticize the rabbanim who are perpetrating the crime against our people.

Rabbi Horowitz will not even allow mention on this site of molesters who have already BEEN reported to the police if they are affiliated with a "heilige" institution.

What this creates is the very deranged situation in which if I am a pedophile, I know that its not good enough to be frum to get away with it. I must grow a nice beard, and develop a friendly disposition, and go into chinuch. That way, not only do I have access to kinderlach AND nobody will want to believe that I molest, but on the long shot that someone does come forward, the Yeshiva will back me to the hilt. It works every single time. Rabbi Horowitz does NOT hold that a yeshiva should reach out to the victims and pay for their therapy. He does NOT hold that they should reach out to the victims at all. Just write "go to therapy" on his website and wash our hands of them. Why?

Because there is a chance, no matter how small, that EVEN if the yeshivas will do the right thing and reach out to the victims and help them go to the police, somebody might, efshar, possibly, maybe sue a yeshivah.

Now, of course this policy is nothing new. It has been attempted by the Catholic Church from time imemorial. Instead of offering to pay for victims' therapy and to apologize for their crimes, they continue to choose to fight them on every level. The Markey bill is NOT the only way that Rabbi Horowitz's shitas are the same as the Pope's.

Unfortunatley for our community, not only will there be many more suicides before there is change, but there will be more and more lawsuits against yeshivas. And we cannot afford to pay nearly as much in legal fees and settlements as the Catholics.

Unless our leaders will reconsider their immoral approach, our entire system of life is doomed. Well, at least the survivors will not "go down alone". Our leaders will make sure to drag us all down with them.


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62.     11/25/09 - 9:19 PM
Gregaaron

I am in truly awe of your emunah, and of your resulting ability to wait for your molester to be punished. You are a living kiddush Hashem.

I am glad that you are pointing out the flaws in the Markey bill; you are, unfortunately, in a position to do so without seeming callous. Simililarly, you are correct that yeshivos are struggling. While there is a perception that yeshivos are rich, the reality is that if there were such a fund, the 1% would just be tacked on to the tuition paid by parents, and would do nothing to reduce lawsuits, and, unfortunately, witch hunts.

As a shadchan, I'd like to point out to "Chozeh" that no, people will not date the children, or siblings, of molesters or even of innocent people publicly accused of molesting.


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63. To Shadchan #62     11/25/09 - 10:29 PM
gregaaron

I wish I was truly deserving of all you say, but thank you. And I meant to point the shidduchim angle out to Chozeh before, thanks for getting to it.

I don't think there is anyone commenting on this site who is completely wrong; everyone here seems to be going into the conversation with good intentions. Am I right? Maybe, maybe not. I'm open to criticism and corrections - for example, Dr. Lipner has made some very valid points that I hadn't thought of. I still don't agree with him, but I really think he is trying to what's right - much like everyone else here.

Hopefully soon there will be a solution.

Thanks again.


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64.     11/26/09 - 12:22 AM
Anonymous

Why shouldn't a Yeshiva that protected the molester not be sued? Of course there is no point in suing a Yeshiva when the administration changed. The ones who protected the molesters are part of the crime. The point is that the Yeshivas should be afraid to protect the molesters. It shouldn't pay for them to do it. A true victim is not seeking "revenge". All he wants is closure and to live in peace, knowing that his molester can't continue abusing other children.


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65. Comment No. 61     11/26/09 - 8:55 AM
Also Concerned

As CHAZAL have taught us that "Shesikah KeHodaah" (Silence is equivalent to Concurrence) [Yevamos 87b; Bava Metzia 37b] and there has not been a response to it, can we assume that Comment No. 61 is true?


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66. Yeshiva accountability     11/26/09 - 1:44 PM
Molested in Monsey

A Yeshiva is a corporation. It is a non profit and owned by no one in particular. There are executives who draw salaries from the Yeshiva who are responsible for the running and executive decisions that are made. How is this any different than any other corporation that released pollutants into a ecosystem 30 years ago. The executives who were there and allowed it are long gone and maybe even dead. The contamination is still there an the current execs are obligated to clean up the messes even though they had nothing to do with it.

This is not about punishing a Yeshiva or it's executives. It is about accountability for what happened under their watch. There has been covered up for decades and now the damage is coming to light. Why should a yeshiva be able to walk away when they were complicit in the damage to another individual? Will it cost the parents more? Perhaps. Then again when GM is sued and pays out then the price of the car goes up too. You don't have to buy a GM. Then again, would you want to send your child to a Yeshiva where in the event that your child gets hurt they will absolve themselves of any responsibility? Saying I did not know/realize/think/imagine that a situation could have/did lead to hurting your child does not in any way make them less responsible. Rabbi Horowitz, I wrote to you almost a year ago naming a longtime molester who was a rebbe until he was fired 1.5 years ago. The Yeshiva had a heads up about him long before firing him. He was covered for more than once. They know about him and you know about him. The parents of the children in his class had no idea why he was fired either. He lives in a neighborhood with children, his house is a stones throw from a park on one side and a shul/mikva on the other. Most people don't know who he is. The police don't know about him either. WHY???????!!!!!!!! Is this the policy? How many poiskim said go to the police? When R' S. Kaminetzky was consulted about firing this rebbe why did he not include calling the police as part of his directive? How can one go to a poisek for a psak when the poisek is a nogeah b'davar?

By truly supporting victims they jeopardize their salaries and position in life. They would need to say we were wrong and then pay to try to make things better for their victims.(as if any money in the world can ever completely repair the damage)PLEASE VIEW THIS VIDEO(http://innocentheart.org/parents.php?cmd=videos&page_id=26) On 3/3/08 R'S. Kaminetzky speaks about how a single molester can have HUNDREDS of victims and that there is an obligation (choivas hashaa)to go to authorities. This video predates the directive to the Yeshiva to fire the rebbe for molestation. The Rabbonim are saying one thing and doing another. RSK sent a accused molester from his own yeshiva to continue teaching in another yeshiva where he continued molesting. The man still lives on the yeshiva campus. There is Yiddeshe blood on his hands by a molester who he knew about and covered up for at least 30 years.How many more rabbonim in this situation are giving advice and psak about how to handle molesters?

Rabbi Horowitz, You advocate going to the police. On behalf of the Monsey community I urge you and challenge you to take action and call the police and force a investigation of this man and have the yeshiva show when and why he was fired. There are children for whom the statute has certainly not run out and this behaimah can be prosecuted criminally to the fullest extent of the law.He is no different than Mondrowitz. You will be saving the lives of many children. He walks freely amongst your children as well.


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67. "Agree to disagree about saving lives?"     11/26/09 - 2:51 PM
Fed up with the Charade

"I asked Elliot Pasik to co-write the "Let the System Work" column not only because we worked together to have the Queens abuser arrested but because we wanted to send a message to the public that we very strongly disagreed on Markey but still are good friends and work together for our kids."

Rabbi Horowitz, did you tell Elliot about the many molesters you know about that you are NOT publicizing, and NOT going with the survivors to the police?

I have a feeling if he knew about it, he would not be so quick to befriend you and "work with you." Markey bill a hin, Markey bill a her, he, and the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children stand for Emes and for really saving kids. Not just empty platitudes.


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68. To Gregaaron about Markey     11/26/09 - 3:30 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner

Some more examples of how Markey bill would prevent future molestation:

1) A recent grad jury in Long Island showed that the Catholic Church stalled admitting that priests were molesting until the Statutes of limitations ran out. Yeshivas do the same thing. In Satmar, there is a rebby currently teaching who molested Joel Engleman. They promised to remove him and did so for a few months until Joel turned 23. Without the window, Joel is powerless to stop this. With the window, he will sue the very next day after the bill is passed and Reichman is out. End of story.

2) Molesters and yeshivas who aide and abet them know that if they just make it till the statute of limitations they are home free. However were they to know that just like with virtually any other crime, they can be sued for as long as they live, they will think twice before committing the crime.

The good news is that even without the Markey bill there is a new trend in society to find ways to prosecute the "enablers" and people who cover up for molesters who are the real criminals. A molester could hurt dozens of kids in his life time. A yeshiva that protects molesters, can hurt hundreds.

1. In Los Angeles, Federal officials are investigating Archbishop Mahoney for criminal fraud for failing to tell parents that the priests he put in charge of their kids had been accused and often even confessed to having molested kids.

2. In Missouri, county prosecutors are pressing charges against 4 Amish Bishops for failure to report, despite being mandated reporters. Clergy are mandated reporters in several states and soon, B'ezrash Hashem in New York.

3. Recently, a respected Brooklyn Rosh Yeshiva threatened a Lakewood family that filed a police complaint about their son being molested, that if they did not drop the charges, he would send out a letter "bashmutzing them". He was contacted immediately by the Ocean's County Prosecutor saying that if he did not stop harrassing the family, he would be arrested for witness tampering and obstruction of justice.

Our schools and leaders have not learned yet the history of organized crime in this country. The Federal Government passed RICO laws to ensure that the mafia does not "get to" witnesses and victims of crimes and intimidate them not to testify. And our leaders have certainly not yet realized that in the 21st century, hiding behind a Constitutional right to practice your religion is not going to fly as an excuse for sexually abusing children and covering it up. The Jewish Board of Advocacy for Children recently signed onto an Amicus Brief to the court that is hearing this attempt to use religious freedom from a Chabad House in Nevada that covered up for a sexual abuser and threatened and intimidated the victims. Chabad has received legal support, unsrurpisingly, from the Mormon Church of Latter Day Saints and the Catholics Church.

In my notes I mentioned that Judaism being the first monotheistic religion, and the foundation for the Judeo-Christian Ethics that underlies most of the legal systems of Western Civilization, is opposed to child abuse. While there are pagan religions that believe in child-human sacrifice, and Islamic fanatics who use their children as suicide bombers, our Torah has always taught against these practices and it is NOT part of our religious practice to sexually abuse children NOR to cover it up when its done. This should not be the right of any religion in America or anywhere in the world.

In the end of the day The Markey bill would be a "Halba Tzara". If our leaders do not act quickly, it is clear that aside from what previous writers have said about their having to answer one day to Hashem, they will most likely have to answer to the FBI soon, just like the rabbis who were arrested for money laundering and corruption. "Ayzehu Chacham Haroeh Es Hanolad."

In the New York Times, one Rabbinic leader "warned" the Brooklyn D.A. about the "appearance" of a "power grab from the rabbis". Power grab?

You ain't seen nothing yet!


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69. to #61, 66, and 67     11/26/09 - 3:58 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Re my position on reporting to police:

As you may notice; I am giving a very wide berth to those who are disagreeing with me and we are posting almost every comment unedited.

However, I must sharply disagree with your claim that I only report certain molestors or that I am covering for known molestors.

As you all know, my thoughts and statements are all public record. And even when people call me for advice, I do my best to guide them and fully understand that the caller might be taping my comments and posting them. With me; what you see is what you get.

And I have for years been telling people who were abused to go to the authorities. no one can tell you otherwise.

61, 66 and 67: you or i cannot press charges. it must be the victim. if i feel a child is in danger, i am obligated to go to the authorities, but if the victim won't come forward in an 'old' case, there is nothing i can do.

and how do you know what efforts i made to address some of the situations you mention or others like them with the authorities or with members of our community?

is it possible that i tried my best and am as frustrated as you are?


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70. A suggestion     11/26/09 - 4:30 PM
Markey supporter

Rabbi Horowitz,

How about this? Instead of leaving us to "guess" if it is possible that you tried your best and are frustrated, I think it would do a lot in terms of repairing the rift that has grown between you and the rabbanim on one side and the survivors of abuse on the other, if you would let us all in on whether you have tried, what you have tried, and whether you are frustrated or not.

Haver you tried, for example to name the molesters on this website? Or to allow other to? In the hopes of getting people to come forward so that SOMEONE will go to the police? Have you tried to convince Assemblyman Hikind to offer rewards for information on the arrest and conviciton of frum offenders the way he does for non-jewish ones?

Have you tried to set up a meeting with the Gedolim and survivors, and if you did, why has it not happened?

In order for everyone to accept your "what you see is what you get" claim, I think it would be helpful if you let us see a little more.

There has been much too much secrecy about what the rabbanim are doing or are not doing, aside from their public pronouncements against the Markey bill.


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71. Rabbi Horowitz     11/26/09 - 4:57 PM
Molested in Monsey

I know that nothing happened with the one I am talking about because there has been no action and I would probably be a material witness in the case. I don't think that a Yeshiva would think it was in their best interest to let it be known as they fear others coming out of the woodwork. Let sleeping dogs lie. Don't stir the pot. Going to the police is not a option which they will exercise because what if they are wrong a million to one? They will err on the side of caution forgetting about the error on the side of the victim.


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72. I just don't understand.     11/26/09 - 10:15 PM
GW - Brooklyn NY

So lately there has been a lot of talk in our community about what is the most correct way to deal with abuse. And one of the sides being considered is how much consideration do we need to give to the perpetrator’s family who will suffer if justice is to be done. Like no one will want to do shiduchim with his kids, etc. Thus it seems like the victim needs to responsibly factor in the damage that will result to innocent people when he decides on what is the correct course of action for him or her.

Yet I keep wondering, like isn’t this a upside-down way of thinking. If a perpetrator’s children suffer because of their father’s deeds, there are only two parties that I can see that are responsible for this. Firstly it is the perpetrator who is causing his kids to suffer because of his deeds. Or one might say that maybe the community needs to become more sensitive and not blame children for their father’s crimes. But to put the burden on the victim that they have a moral obligation to distort reality, or that they are responsible to create some kind of cover so that the perpetrator’s kids don’t suffer, I just cannot see how that adds up.

I think the reason this distorted thinking is prevalent in the psyche of our community is because we somehow don’t realize the damage it creates in us when we misalign ourselves with the truth. So it sort of seems like what does the victim have to loose if they choose to keep quiet? The answer is her, or himself!


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73. shidduchim     11/26/09 - 10:53 PM
rivka finkelstein - lakewood nj

My son died last feb from a drug overdose. He was molested repeatedly as a young boy. Drugs masked his pain....we spoke up and someone set my home on fire i lost my son my home and the support of the community. Nobody is cooperating with the police to find out who committed the crime of arson. Is this Torah? Is this what Hashem wants? To all victims STOP WORRYING ABOUT SHIDDUCHIM Hashem runs the world and i guarantee you he will find each of my children good shidduchim because he loves me. We have to keep talking and have bitachon in hashem ....abuse is so sickeningly common that if everyone trusted hashem and spoke about it, we would all be able to help eachother more....Even though my son died and my house burned down i dont regret our openess about the issue. We are victims and victims dont need to be ashamed. I am not ashamed My name is Finkelstein and I am not ahsamed, embarassed...just disappointed in the lakewood community and Daas Torah for not helping me find justice


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74. LETS TALK TACHLIS     11/27/09 - 12:33 AM
Anonymous

I can't believe that in year 2009 there is no mega system in place dealing with the prevention of abuse. There are countless organizations dealing with (unkowingly to most) effects of abuse, however why is so little effort put into prevention.. why does one need to be hurt first in order to be helped?

Is writing an article to parents on this blog enough? EVERY PARENT and CHILD needs to know the rules.. here's the plan and anyone backing the idea should all pitch in and lets get it rolling.

1) A mass booklet mailing to every parent of every school must be mailed out yearly with the following "basic" information: (yes some people are not bad just very naive) all the answers will be detailed and based on the needs and sensitivites of our community

a)What is child sexual abuse? b)Is child sexual abuse really such a big problem? c)Why would an adult sexually abuse a child? d)What is the impact of child sexual abuse? e)Why don't children tell if they have been abused? f) What can I do to learn more about how to prevent child sexual abuse?

all this information, with detailed answers and yes examples will be made available TO ALL PARENTS OF CHILDREN, by mailing out to ALL JEWISH SCHOOLS IN THE WORLD!!

2) Aside from the mailing, once it is sent out, there should be a group of trained volunteers going down to schools and speaking to each class or grade in a non - scary, non-judgemental, friendly conversations, and openly hold discussions about appropriate touch, and who to tell and who to call if something doesnt seem right at home or outside the home.

Hopefully parents that read the mailing have discussed this issue with their children so the issue is not taboo. It needs to be taken seriously.

Also if this is done, molestors that are in the school system will think twice knowing that the discussion is open and children will be knowing that what they do is wrong. Right now they thrive on a child's innocence. THAT WILL BE GONE.

3) I think every school should have 1 representative trained, and be on the lookout for abuse, talk to students, educate teachers and have follow up meetings.

4) We need to set up a support group and website for a) survivors b) caregivers c) abusers - molester.. yes let them know THERE IS HELP, they don't HAVE TO DO THIS!! d) Wife or family of abusers site needs to be highly regulated and done in thought out way.

This website might also have a story a week, on audio or visual about someones personal experience and growth.

5) And most important there needs to be a fund for therapy. If we cant get it from the Yeshivos or predators, we need to fundraise it just like all other organizations are. There are askanim that would help, we need to be optimistic.

There should also be a therapist contribution towards this .... like a system where therapists rotate to volunteer their services... or a system should be set up to reduce the rates for this important cause.

THIS NEEDS TO BE OUR TOP PRIORITY, I personally know of too many, way too many people that lived through this gehenim and are still suffering ... WE NEED TO HELP.

If a constructive group can be formed to put this into action... we would be getting place.... ANYONE?

As a graphic designer and web-designer i offer my services to create and program the website and try to put together and create the mailing brochure..... please can we get this started TODAY!!


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75. to #74 "Tachlis"     11/27/09 - 7:02 AM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

to "Tachlis" #74

I read your comments with great interest as you clearly have a global vision for addressing the broad range of initiatives needed to prevent future abuse and to help current victims.

FYI; Last year, as the Markey matter was swirling, I wrote a detailed, broad-based counter-proposal to the Markey Bill where your suggestions #1-3 were represented -- almost exactly as you wrote them. (On a pragmatic level, as a school principal, I differed a bit from the "how-to" you wrote, but the goals were exactly the same as yours.)

One of my many objections to the Markey Bill is that nothing remotely like your suggestions were included.

I must say that I find your forward-thinking and rational approach to be refreshing.

IMO; if there were more TACHLIS oriented people like you among the Markey proponents in Albany, a great bill could have been formed in committee that would probably have passed -- with the support of the private-school networks like the yeshivos and the church.

I would be very interested in speaking with you, sharing with you some of the things I've been working on for months along the lines of what you wrote and possibly taking you up on your offer to assist with web and graphics (serves you right for offering :).

Please drop me an email at yhprojectyes@gmail.com

Thanks

Yakov


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76. 74, 75     11/27/09 - 12:47 PM
Anonymous

Sounds obvious, but we are up against a community who prefers to bury its head in the sand than to confront the obvious. A number of years back, a drug ring surfaced locally and a sizable number of at risk yeshiva students were being drawn in. Some secheldig askanim tried to organize a drug awareness campaign in our local yeshivos.

Only one yeshiva would allow the speakers into their auditorium; the other yeshivos held that it was inappropriate to discuss these problems in a public forum or that it was a 'pritzusdig' conversation to hold in front of the children, or, most twisted, that the program would just inspire kids who wouldn't have thought about drugs on their own. Based on this, I can envision the public hysteria which would ensue a mailing like the one you describe.

Principals would get complaints like "how can you send this home?" People simply don't want to get their hands dirty by dealing with these sort of realities, they prefer to maintain their pristine self-image and pretend we have no sordid secrets.


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77. REAL Tachlis     11/27/09 - 1:16 PM
steve - Brooklyn, NY

Rabbi Horowitz continues to try to confuse the issue. What does educating the children and parents about child molesters have to do with the Markey Bill? The Markey Bill is for past victims to have a chance to seek legal recourse against their abusers, to expose them and to have some form of closure. Handing out booklets and pamphlets is all well and good. However, the molesters are not afraid of your pamphlets. They are only afraid of a)going to jail and b)being exposed.

The Markey Bill addresses this exposure as about 400 of these molesters were exposed when similar legislation was enacted in California and Delaware. It also addresses the grievances of past victims which your pamphlets do not.

So if you want to talk tachlis, it is all about sending child molesters to prison and if they are past the SOL, exposing them so that they do not pose a threat any longer. Without these deterrants, they will continue to have free reign, your pamphlets notwithstanding.


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78. Tachlis     11/27/09 - 2:17 PM
gregaaron

You seem to be very on target - as Rabbi Horowitz said, especially with your first three points. Just one issue I'd like to point out - while educating children can have a very positive effect, it is by no means all-helping. Depending on who the molester is, and who the kid is, there will still be times that the kid is too cowed to say anything (even if he has been told over and over again to tell if anything ever happens).

I have vivid memories of my doctor telling me, "If anyone ever touches you in an inappropriate area, tell your parents immediately." My thought process to that was, "Well, normally I would tell, but my Rebbi told me NOT to say, and everyone knows you have to listen to your Rebbi." Obviously my parents - who taught me that - could not have known how far I would take their advice, but hey - I was a kid.

Additionally, there is a concept of "grooming", in which molesters gradually work to the point of being able to molest the kids. One of the tactics that is commonly use is when the molester brings up sexual topics to talk to the kid about - whether in the context of a joke, or "how old were you when you found out", or even under the guise of, "there's some things you need to know so that you don't chas v'shalom do horrible aveiros". This is more common by 6th-7th graders than little kids. Educating the kids would not help in these situations.

All that being said, though, you have some great ideas, and if you and Rabbi Horowitz ever get to putting some of them to fruition, I'd love to help.


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79. Real Tachlis     11/27/09 - 2:54 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner

Rabbi Horowitz,

I too agree with the ideas of the above poster, and am currently working on them. The JBAC is trying to get legislation passed for mandated safety plans in schools, since Torah Umesorah has told us that they are unable to enforce their own safety plans.

The JBAC has a website which could use financial support. It has much of the information you say needs to be addressed.

Reb Yankie, with all due respect and gratitude to you for facilitating this discussion, now who's taking potshots? As if we the Markey supporters do not support other strong ideas. I have alwasy said that if Daas Torah would support ANY of the ideas listed above, I would gladly work with Daas Torah. But they are not only against Markey, as you well know, they are against any progress whatsoever.

I wish I was wrong. Please prove me wrong. Ask the Agudah or Torah Umesorah to help with ANY of the above ideas:

When I mentioned funding...we don't have funds.

Educating the parents about safe school practices? No response.

Meet with survivors? They might say something chutzpadik.

It is really getting old to listen to these excuses and the backwards thinking against Markey which represent the truth of Torah: Justice, Safety, and Support.

Most of all we need more honesty. Attacking Markey supporters as a hindrance to progress in other areas is totally dishonest.

Your Chaver,

Asher


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80. 79 Dr Lipner     11/28/09 - 6:43 PM
Anonymous

I admire the wonderful work you do as well as the sincerity and passion which come across so clearly. What i cant understand is why you keep looking for the support of organizations like AY and TU. They have never shared your concerns or your way of thinking; i dont anticipate that they will do an about face tomorrow, and i surely dont think they are going to suddenly decide to generously help you out with funds.

My own belief is that they have political and economic interests of their own to protect, but the exact reasons shouldnt necessarily matter. Agudah and TU have clearly expressed--loudly and clearly, in unequivocal terms--that they simply have a different perspective, hold a different agenda, and value different priorities. Your cause is just, you are motivated by real ahavas Yisroel, you work with unparallelled integrity. This speaks for itself; you do not need the 'establishment' on your side to lend yor cause credibility or chashivus.

Yasher kochacha! May the Ribbono shel olam Himself help you succeed--you are not dependent upon any mossad or any kol korei with chashuv signatures to accomplish the His will.


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81. Not a "STIRAH"     11/28/09 - 8:14 PM
Tachlis

Gut voch,

I too think it is equally important to deal withe past survivors and current predators, however it is not a contradiciton..... that should be dealt with, and ALLA measures should be taken to have predators off the street, and away from children......however aside for that .... A MAJOR PREVENTION PLAN to prevent our future generation of children is a MUST.

gregaaron: I hear that a constructive informational brochure is non-all helping... and the reasons you gave show why... but hearing your reasons will also teach us what to put in ... your exact example would be included in brochure with points... like this: Tell your children that Rebbeim, counselors, and adults can never tell you to keep a secret,, if a rebbe tells you not to tell anyone... it is ok to tell Mommy or Totty.

Also woulndt be amazing if You and other amazing people like you, would be able to speak .... and be an eye opener... to parents at a yearly mandatory meeting held by all schools.... where these brochures would be distributed.... this is THE POINT to make people... parents aware.

One more thing that i didnt mention earlier... to be included should be: WARNING SIGNS, what to look out for in your child's behavior... different behaviors for different ages. This should help a parent in picking up somehting is wrong without the child having to speak if he can't.

#76 your right that schools are so not open .. they'd rather not get invlolved in "this"... but HELLO THEY NEED TO... and if it becomes a mandatory law... Dr. Asher said the JBAC is working on that would sort of force them to do it.. also There are some gedolim that with a plan like this laid out in front of them.... might give their haskamos... i know personally that Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky has a soft spot for this...

WE'VE GOT 2 TRY!!! sitting back and waiting for the Markey to be passed won't get us anywhere to help prevention..... i dont think that the issue of molesters roaming freely should be ignored.... and yes survivors should have the right to do whatever it takes to bring justice to their abusers... and weve got to keep trying for that too... NOT A CONTRADICITON!


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82. To #74 and ALL SURVIVORS/VICTIMS     11/29/09 - 1:14 AM
Rofei Lishvurei Lev - Chicago

edited

The ONLY proven method to get the wheels of justice turning, is to pull the bull by the horns and MAKE IT HAPPEN. Choosing to go to the police while the most proven method is a personal choice. However, even if you choose NOT to press charges, advertise the danger to the public. In Baltimore they hung up photo warnings. In Chicago they sent out the famous "Blue Letter". In New York, they leafletted mass Jewish areas. All instances produced the desired effects. People were educated and knew who to avoid.

It is not your responsibility to keep the family of the perpetrator whole and happy. Divorce was written in the TORAH as an option especially when an abomination like this takes place. A person who is unable to withhold their temptation upon seeing a child, is displaying Infidelity 101. Infidelity is a primary ground for divorce. If the spouse CHOOSES to stay loyal to such a spouse, is good enough reason to avoid such a family at all costs.

It is your responsibility to keep YOURSELF happy. YOU are the number one priority.


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83. Asher Lipner and JBAC - what about you?     11/29/09 - 1:43 AM
Practical Suggestion

Just wondering if the mental health professionals like Asher Lipner and JBAC, with so much experience dealing with abuse, would VOLUNTEER their services to counsel victims of abuse, for free, instead of spending their valuable time supporting the Markey bill, and blogging endlessly all over the web against anyone who worries about the potentially bankrupting Yeshivos, wouldn't the community be much better off?

Supposedly, the reason for their support of Markey is to cover the prohibitive cost of counseling. Wouldn't it be so much more productive for JBAC members to work together to arrange free counseling instead??


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84. Response to #82     11/29/09 - 5:15 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

I can only speak for myself. I give discounted therapy for those who have been abused that amounts to over Maaser of my income from therapy. I also do give free telephone consultations to victims of abuse.

It is not fair to say that we the therapists have to work for free to fix a problem that we did not create. I have not molested anyone, and I have not covered up for any molesters. Those who have created the problem and are chayav to pay for it. Also, the community that allowed it to happen by living in denial should take some responsibility, and this includes our leadership. Finally, all Yidden as Rachmanim bnei Rachmanim should pitch in as well.

As for the time spent blogging, please see today's vosizneias that shows that bloggers have been the catalyst for significant change in how our community is handling the issue of abuse.

It is very important to note that prevention and awareness are just as important as therapy for several reasons:

When survivors are unable to speak out about abuse, they suffer the kind of shame that can lead to suicide. Furthermore, as long as we continue to live in a community that allows abusers to "sleep safely" as Rabbi Horowitz has written, while victims and their advocates are constantly attacked, therapy is greatly limited in terms of helping survivors.

The first rule of trauma therapy is to make sure the patient is in a safe place. Picture trying to do psychotherapy for a shell shocked soldier while still on the battlefield. Or a Holocaust victim while still in the concentration camp. Or a battered wife who goes home each night to be abused.

Many of my suicidal patients have expressed that living in our community triggers their symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder because they do not feel safe.

Now to Markey, you are mistaken when you say the number one reason for its necessity is to pay for therapy for survivors, although it would help in that area as well. The number one reason is that it has been shown in states with similar legislation that serial child sex abusers have been identified and apprehended through passage of this law.

Stopping molesters is not only an important step in the healing of victims. It also ensures that we do not have another generation of victims. This is (for those focused on the bottom line) a tremendous investment so that we will not have to pay for any more therapy.

If we want to prevent suicides, instead of only telling victims to go to therapy, how about we stop people from molesting our children?

I personally look forward to the day when I can go back to working with victims of the kind of mental illness and emotional suffering that Hashem created as opposed to the kind that people have created by allowing traumatic abuse in our community.


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85.     11/29/09 - 7:08 PM
Sister of Victim

Personally, I don't have the least problem with bankrupting yeshivos who haven't handled past or present accusations of abuse appropriately. They aren't worthy of the name yeshiva if they aren't doing the utmost for the children in their charge.

In fact, my thought in reading through these comments is that I'd like to start a pro bono legal aid organization to assist victims in pursuing those responsible, using whatever legal theories will work in the jurisdiction in question. I imagine that there would be no difficulty in finding both frum and non-religious attorneys of high ability who would be willing to donate time to such a cause. In fact, the use of non-frum attorneys who would be immune from communal pressure would be a good thing.

When my sister was abused, my parents pursued the abuser with all the means at their disposal. I cannot imagine what the effect on her would have been had my parents been unwilling to seek justice on her behalf. Nothing will ever give her back what was taken from her, but acknowledgment of the wrong done, punishment and retribution certainly have a place. Why are we so quick to say we want to compensate the victim (well, some of us are quick to say it) but shy away from speaking of punishment? Punishment certainly has a place. I only wish that we lived in Texas, if I may be so frank.


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86. Comment 84-Punishment     11/30/09 - 12:54 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Some writers here have spoken disparagingly about the victims' need for "revenge". These comments are totally against the Torah which teaches that it is one of the 7 mitzvas of bnai noach to set up a court system. The concept of justice a basic human necessity of any civilized society.

We will soon learn in the Torah about how Shimon and Levi killed out the entire community of Shchem for raping their sister Dina. And the only rebuke they got from Yaakov Avinu was becaue of the danger this justice placed the family in due to relations with neighbors. In our community, it is the opposite. covering up and NOT dealing harshly enough with the rapists of Jewish children is causing a Chillul Hashem as the goyim around us are seeing us more and more as a sick society. In this case, surely Yaakov would agree with the brothers of Dina who said "Hakzona Yaaseh Achoseinu?"

We also have a mitzvah in the torah of "goel hadam" that I thought of as I read your post because it is the family of the victim that must pursue justice even through vigilantism.

People in our community have misplaced mercy on the perpetrator of harm to innocent Jewish children. It is like Shaul Hamelech who had "rachmanus" on Agag, who Shmuel Hanavi cut down with a sword for what he had done to Jewish children. The Gemorah says that the misplaced rachmanus of Shaul was part of a syndrome that led to severe cruelty when Shaul killed out an entire city of innocent Kohanim.

In the case of sexual abuse, the misplaced mercy on the perpetrators is much more directly linked to cruelty to the innocent victims who are made to feel worse than "zonahs" as their sexual purity is alowed to be violated without anyone standing up for them.


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87. The Kishka Test- Or, Why We Should Stop Worrying So Much About Vengeful Feelings     11/30/09 - 11:21 AM
Yerachmiel Lopin FrumFollies - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Michael Dukakis failed the kishka (gut) test and lost the presidential election in 1988. His poll numbers dropped 7% because of his answer to the question “if your wife were raped and murdered, would you favor an irrevocable death penalty for the killer?" The gutless wonder answered, "no, I don't, I oppose the death penalty." He could have turned that question into an opportunity to say what everyone knows in their kishkas. “I would want to kill that @#&%!!!” No one would have faulted his language. We expect a husband to feel that way even if doesn’t act on those feelings. Yes, sound decisions require reason as well as emotion. But we should not criticize survivors of molesting and their advocates because they show intense emotions. I am much more disturbed when I listen to voices that remind me of Michael Dukakis. I am suspicious of the much of what passes for reasoning in the public debate. There is too much worrying about false accusations and not enough worrying about the molesters who are not reported. Why is there such a discrepancy between the public discourse and the reality that false accusations are rare but molesting is common? Have most people in the frum world suddenly joined the ACLU?


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88. Question....?     11/30/09 - 2:03 PM
Concerned

The recent talk and awareness of child sexual abuse on this website and in general... basically cater to children that have been molested by Rebbeim, or other adult figures not related (family) to the child.

While most boys are molested by Rebbeim and other adult figures outside the home..... MOST girls are molested by family.. yes parents... uncles... brothers.. brothers-in-law etc... it is all the more complicated.. and there reporting process is way harder.... all the options mentioned above are not shayich to these cases...

When someone who is abused by an outsider... the relationship with that person is ALL HATE.. they would do anything to see them being taken care of.... when the abuser however is a parent figure.... it is all the more confusing.... how do we go about reporting them.. its like the victim is living "in this" daily...needs them.. yet hates them... they hate the abuser for the act done... yet while they still live at home depend on them for money... decisions... etc..

Victims of abuse that was done through the school/camp/outside system have a much easier time dealing with their anger in a contructive way.. to them the abuser is ALL BAD... they are monsters.. they are.. but people that actually live with a molester.... get to see that besides the 90% BAD.. they also lead a somehwat normal life.. and do have like a 10% part of them that is good.. they might be bringing in parnassah.. and be giving tzedakah.. and they portray like they are normal to the rest of the world.... they might be one of the biggest askanim in your neighborhood for all you know.... HOW DO WE GO ABOUT REPORTING THESE PEOPLE??

When a girl being abused from the category above... takes into account all the things that will get even worse.. post reporting.. they would rather stay quiet.... fear of divorce,, rage,, shidduchim... all these things keep them quiet.. and the SUFFERING IS WAY WORSE... THEY CAN'T EVEN LET OUT THEIR FRUSTRATION ... FOR FEAR OF REVEALING THEM.

My question to Rabbi Horowitz and Dr. Lipner is while all the talk to help get molesters behind bars sounds doable.. who will take care of the children.. mostly girls... that are being molested by their own blood relatives????


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89. Asher     11/30/09 - 2:50 PM
gregaaron

Yes, as you point out, there is an obligation on us - and everyone else - to set up courts of justice. But one as learned as you seem to be should not be confusing justice with revenge. The Torah clearly says that pure nekamah - in other words, revenge for the sake of revenge - is completely assure. You can bring proof from Shimon and Levi from today until tomorrow, but that doesn't negate the halacha. Yakov Avinu married two sisters - will you say that for us, today, that is permitted as well?

Anyone can bring a chazal as a "proof" to any position that one wishes to take. I would like to think that everyone here is aiming for the same goal; let's not lose track of that, and get into idealogical discussions about whether or not the Torah permits nekamah. (Earlier, you mentioned that there are types of damage that one is mechuyav to pay. Let's keep it at that, and not drag revenge into it at all.)


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90. #88     11/30/09 - 3:27 PM
Anonymous

On Yom Kippur we daven to Hashem with the following bakashah:

"We quash or own desires in order to do what you desire us to do. So too you Hashem should your mercy quash your anger from us and from all of Israel"

Your question is most heartbreaking and so very real. However, in situations like that the natural tendencies of love and family must be quashed. Family without TRUST, family without SAFETY, and family to make a healthy outside impression IS NOT A FAMILY. It is a group of biologically connected individuals living under one roof, but void of the meaning of FAMILY.

When you ask a victim of family abuse, the feelings are almost never 10% positive. The hate is equal or greater than to the ogre in the park or any other abuser. They understand the meaning of betrayal firsthand, and all pity must be quashed and justice be done as it is done to the common criminal.

Just because the relative is nice some of the time, means ZERO. Every criminal has a human side to them. If they looked like Shrek no one would come near them! Being nice and a Baal Tzedakkah is meaningless, Al Capone is still admired as one of Chicago's most prolific baalei tzeddakah in his time.


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91. Gregaaron, let me please explain     11/30/09 - 3:35 PM
Asher Lipner

My point was that Shimon and Levy were NOT acting out of revenge but out of justice. Chas V'shalom can you compare their Middos which are eternal to the laws of marrying two sisters which changed at Har Sinai.

Blurring the distincition between justice and revenge is counterproductive to the discussion.

The problem is that often times, survivors of interpersonal trauma have tremendous anger, and therefore when they seek justice it unconscioulsy FEELS like it is revenge. They need to acknowledge that it is ok to feel angry as long as it is used productively and "worked through" in order to remove it from your heart. Revenge is indeed against the Torah and has been shown to do little if anything to help victims heal. Justice, on the other hand is a mitzvah and a major ideal in Judaism. It is often very healing for victims as well. The perversion of justice can in fact often be as traumatic for victims of abuse as the abuse itself.


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92. Justice vs revenge     11/30/09 - 6:03 PM
Anonymous

The major difference between justice and revenge is that justice is about an objective, higher value while revenge is motivated by a subjective reaction usually involving strong emotions like anger. Justice, therefore, must be practiced and enforced by the community; revenge is meted out by the individual who was hurt. So if we would like to create a just society, which we do, we are obligated to establish rules and institutions and processes which inspire the trust of the aggrieved, thereby eliminating their motivation to seek revenge within a system that turns a blind eye to tzedek. The piercing cry for vengeance we are hearing is the frustration of victims trapped in a society that is less than just. We need a systemic process in place; we can shoot down the proposals of others if we'd like but until we make sure to put something workable is in place, we have lots to answer for and little to say in our own defense. At least on this issue, the secular system reflects greater commitment to justice than we do, which is quite disappointing and ironic, not to mention a chilul Hashem.


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93. Asher     11/30/09 - 6:31 PM
Gregaaron

Okay. But, there needs to be some way of ensuring that we DON'T blur that line. I think that you and I can both look at our situations, and say that it is entirely conceivable that we would convince ourselves that something is "justice" as opposed to revenge - just like you mention it is done the other way around. (I'm not trying to throw you under the bus at all, but I'm looking at myself objectively - I think I can convince myself of an awful lot more "justice" than I'm entitled to in this world.) Again, there are guidelines - let's make sure they get followed. (And just to bring Markey back in to the conversation - because I'm sure that everyone is just dying for the subject to be brought up again - I believe the halacha is grama b'nezikin patur b'dinei adam.

Thanks for the clarification.


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94.     11/30/09 - 6:37 PM
Benzion Twerski

An earlier comment drew attention to the abuse that occurs within families. While I am not looking at the statistics at the moment, the estimates are that the greatest percentage of molestation involves the institution of the home and family in contrast to yeshivos. The commenter suggested that the major difference between institutional abuse and home/family abuse is gender – boys in yeshivos, girls within home/family. I beg to differ, and I am reciting from memory only (don’t hang me on details). The greatest majority of all abuse and molestation involves home/family. Yeshivos and schools get sensationalized because these are institutions that commit to keeping our children safe, and have clearly failed that when abuse occurs. There is also less hesitation when seeking to prosecute (court or within community) a stranger on faculty as opposed to a family member.

In reality, all forms of molestation, except forcible rape, involve a victim who appears to consent to the abuse. This “consent” is obtained by grooming, coercion, or is expected because of the superior role of the abuser. Secular law ignores this “consent” since the child is a minor and unable to make such a decision. There are discrepancies between secular “age of consent” and the halachic ages of maturity (Bar and Bas Mitzvah). Virtually any molestation victim will deal with multiple emotions, involving such feelings of hate and love, dependency, rage, guilt, shame, etc. The exact balance of all these will vary per individual, and the relationship to the abuser will also be a factor. This is why professional evaluation and treatment are so critical. There is no “one size fits all” for victims of abuse. The notion of sharing the complaint is another major obstacle. Just as an adult will be hesitant if no completely resistant to sharing experiences of his/her own intimate life, the child who has been violated will have corresponding resistance to making discussion about private matters.

The failure of many episodes of molestation coming to light is often attributable to the resistance to raise the issue altogether. The matters that fuel many of the vibrant discussions here relate to those that do get beyond the resistance and lead to a complaint.


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95. gregaaron     11/30/09 - 8:34 PM
Molested in Monsey

gregaaron: How can I contact you personally anonymously if need be?


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96. Question 88 about domestic sexual abuse of girls     11/30/09 - 8:59 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Thank you for raising the sexual abuse by relatives which falls most heavily on girls. I agree with you that the closer a molester is to us, the more harm they cause. Yet that makes it all the more important that steps are taken to protect the child. The child can no longer feel safe and develop normally unless steps are taken to ensure that molesting ends. All the choices are awful. I am afraid that often the decisions that are taken to protect the molester are rationalized in the name of the child. But then of course the community has for years rationalized protecting molesters as being for the greater good. The problem was created by the molester and now there are imperfect choices. In most cases going to child protective services is the best solution.

As a community we can help out by supporting the relatives left behind, validating the justifiable feelings of the victim, accepting her as guiltless, and just doing all the acts of chesed we do for others in difficult situations. Perhaps the most important thing is treating the girl as a normal girl, but of course allowing her to vent when she wants to. Think of the girl as someone mugged by a stranger on the street. We still think she is normal. We usually expect the same of her as we do of others. And of course we expect her to be angry at times.

I recognize that most normal people will have more complicated reactions when they are hurt by someone they trust. Sometimes some reconcilliation is possible but it is not fair to demand the child do the heavy liftting and compromising. Sometime reconcilliation that is genuine can occur. But it requires the assailant to accept responsiblity and the consequences. Thsuvah that is genuine can be magically healing for both parties, but it has be genuine. Alas,it rarely is.


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97. Molested in Monsey     11/30/09 - 10:04 PM
gregaaron

You can e-mail me at gregaaron92@gmail.com (I'm not sure how often I'll be checking it though; I just opened that account a minute ago).

However, please understand where I stand on all of this - if this is an attempt to get me to rabble-rouse, please save your, well, fingers. If you just want to talk about it or whatever, not a problem at all.

Hatzlacha.


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98. Molsetation within a family     12/1/09 - 2:00 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

To the questioner who asked about incest within a family:

First of all, thank you for bringing up such a difficult gut-wrenching painful topic that needs to be addressed as we seek to find solutions to the problem of sexual abuse in our community. Your post really expresses the dillema very, very poignantly.

Secondly, I really appreciated the comments of Dr. Twerski and of Yerachmiel Lopin and the anonymous poster #90 on this. I will add some thoughts, but I hope all of us can continue an ongoing discussion, because there are no easy answers.

It is true that within family the sense of betrayal is greater. Although I often point out that the honor due a rebby according to the gemorah is greater than that of a parent, so the betrayal there is great too. However a family is a place you would normally feel most safe, thereby creating an innate sense of trust. The story of the brothers selling Yosef into slavery was so traumatic because it was brother vs. brother.

The mixed emotions are also much greater. According to the Ohr Hachaim Hakadosh, the reason that Yosef never sent word to his father for all those years that he was still alive is because he wanted to protect his brothers (his abusers) from the anger of his father, until he was sure that they had done tshuvah.

There is a possibility for Tshuvah and reconciliation in a family even where there has been sexual abuse. I have seen it. However, as Yerachmiel put it, the heavy lifting must be up to the molester. I convinced a Jewish mother to call the police on her own son, who had molested her daughters, and when confronted with tough love, he actually began a long road to tshuva with professional help and reconciliation with his mother. It was amazing.

I have a friend who was molested by her brother. I actually know several young women from the website allussheffelech.proboards.com with a similar situation. When her brother got married and had children, her PTSD symptoms got much worse. She wanted to stop him before he molested his own children, but she was reluctant to call the police. She was 22 years old and felt that without the passage of the Markey bill she only had less than a year to file charges against her brother. She had such severe symptoms during the stress of this dilemma. B"H, she managed, with support of a Rov and her parents to "force" her brother to get help from a professional who forced him to tell his wife the truth about what he had done in the past so she should know to be aware of the danger to the children. I believe that if he refused to go for help, she would have eventually gone to the police, which would have been re-traumatizing but at the same time would have created healing for her because it would empower her to be the one to stop him from hurting others.

In an even worse situation, one woman I know who was raped by her brother for years, has parents who have forced her to keep it quiet because publicity would hurt the whole family's shidduchim. She became the parriah for wanting attention. Her parents eventually sent her away from home. She became very ill and had over a dozen psychiatric hospitialiations over the course of 5 years. She is now doing much better, B"H, but is now dealing with shadchanim who are unhelpful to her because she is "damaged goods".

When a girl was raped by a goy in Lakewood, all I heard about that Shabbos in my Flatbush community was "nebach, she will never get a shidduch". I do not understand how sick our community is. We are not all Kohanim Gedolim who need to marry a Besulah.

By the way, I don't know the general statistics, but I have seen at least one study in the frum community that suggested that it is true that girls are more often molested at home or by neighbors and boys most often in camp or in school. My clinical experience is in line with that.

I believe that aside from what Reb Benzion wrote about school scandals being more sensational because they are supposed to be safe places run by professionals, I also think that we hear more from boys who were molested than from girls because there is a blame the victim mentality more with women.

A rov told a woman who's husband was molesting her daughter (his step-daughter) that she shuold teach the girl to be more tznius. Bays Yaakovs teach women that if men lust after them it is their sin for not being tznius enough. There is not a lot of responsibility placed on the men for their own bechirah. This makes girls feel guilty and ashamed, and is a big reason we do not hear of girls or women speaking out about their abuse.

Back to the issue of family molestation: A woman patient molested by her grandfather reported that when child protective services took her away from her mother who had neglected to protect her, the temporary forced separation was more traumatic than the abuse. I am not sure this was true. This young woman was obsessed with the fear that her young son would be taken away from her for her lack of parenting skills, but she was unable to stop herself from sexually abusing her son whom she loved, and leading to child protective services stepping in to protect the child, a self-fulfilling prophecy. What a nightmare.

As Yerachmiel said, sincere Tshuvah is hard to come by. A significant number of sexual abusers, but not a majority, are sociopaths, who enjoy lying, decieving and manipulating others for their own benefit. They have no conscience or fear of hurting anyone. They are narcissitic and grandiose, thinking the world starts and stops with their wishes. Sociopaths are notoriously helpless with regards to therapy. In fact, studies suggest that therapy actually makes them worse, because they use their increased empathy and social skills to hurt people even more. This is a harsh reality that needs to be kept in mind when speaking of "therapy for molesters". Again, it is only a minority of abusers who fall into this category.

Other abusers suffer from cognitive distortions that rationalize and minimize their hurtful behavior. This is not yet documented in the literature, but in my work with frum molesters my colleagues and I saw special ways that they used their frumkeit to justify the abuse. "It can't be that bad if their is no 'Al Cheyt for it". "Show me in Shulchan Aruch where it says I can't touch little girls." "I can't go to therapy and talk about my Yetzer Harah because it is not tznius." "How can I do tshuvah for molesting little boys if you won't let me go to the mikvah to purify myself?" This last one was actually agreed to by a rov. I asked the rov if it would be ok if my patient went to the mikvah when there were naked women around and he said of course not. I said for him its the same with naked men. The rov had a hard time believing this because the man was married with kids. Yes, one factor that contributes to people committing sexual abuse, especially teenagers, is inadequate sex education. I have seen this as well.

I have asked two of my colleagues with greater expertise in the treatment of offenders to write about this, but they are concerned that nobody wants to hear about helping the molesters. But as a clinical supervisor once told me "you need to work on the problem from a holistic perspective in order to help anyone". This is especially true when dealing with intra-familial abuse.

These are some thoughts "Al Regel Achas". I hope we can continue this line of discussion which brings together clinical and communal issues. Those therapists who are involved with advocacy know that it is a mistake to view either therapy or communal activism in a vaccuum out of context of the other.


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99. Teshuvah for abuse     12/1/09 - 8:10 AM
Anonymous

I am uncomfortable with a discussion about abuse turning to the subjsect of teshuvah; i believe it is distraction from the relevant issues and this tangent, to my mind, is further proof of the tendency to direct rachmanus to the perpetrator rather than the victim.

What is the place for considering that the perpetrator repented? Does it mean we now no longer have to worry about the perpetrator's sick tendencies and can now place him in the company of children? Does it mean we no longer need to take care of the victims' shame, their pain, their resulting dysfunctions? And who gets to decide when teshuvah has been achieved--the perpetrator? The yeshiva who would rather not have to fire a mechanech or expose their mossad to communal gossip?

I dont even know how we can assess teshuvah in these sort of situations. The crimes exact a heavy generational toll--even to the yet unborn. A victim who has not healed is not even in a position to 'forgive' on any level. The perpetrator can be quite remorseful and perhaps even achieved teshuvah by Hashem's standards, but that doesnt mean we assume his pathology has been cured; we certainly wouldnt assign such a person a job as a Rebbe. So, again, unless you are in the unique perspective of a therapist dealing with a client who is a molester, i am not sure there is a constructive purpose to dwelling on teshuvah for a psychological aberration.


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100. blaming schools more than homes     12/1/09 - 8:24 AM
Anonymous

The tendency to focus on abuse that occurs in schools rather than in homes despite the statistical evidence that more abuse is perpetrated within the family unit is simple: the schools represent the public, communal domain wheras the home is private. It is far easier to hold accountable an institution with whom the community holds a contract (written or unwritten) than it is to make demands upon a private family who arguably owes the community nothing.

Incidently, this is the tachlis of legislating requirements for child protection such as mandatory fingerprinting and background checks: the more clearly defined and concrete the contract between the institution and the community, the greater the degree of enforcable accountability. Where there are no requirements, it is as if the mossad owes nothing, and like what transpires within the family, home unit, everything is "heimish...," which seems, in many ways, to be what we want...


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101. Still Concerned...     12/1/09 - 12:44 PM
Concerned/Tachlis

Hi, Thanks for the responses on my comment about incest. I really feel better about this being bought to the open on this site.... along with other types of abuse.... incest is real... and all the more complicated. From the comments written by Rabbi Twerski, Y. Lopin, Dr. Lipner & #90Anonymous, i would like to phrase some points... and add some thoughts and further questions that i have to them: Rabbi Twerski: "The greatest majority of all abuse and molestation involves home/family. Yeshivos and schools get sensationalized because these are institutions that commit to keeping our children safe" Although my point was to just bring incest into the light...Your statement makes it all the more scary... can we imaging that besides for the already major outrage that we have towards rebbi's and other mechanchim that have failed our trust... there is another WHOLE world of abuse out there..... that is even more frequent and more common than what we are already dealing with. Also i agree and am aware that abuse involving family is most common.......meaning that boys AND girls are victims or incest, however the problem of girls being molested inside the school system CAN be an issue but thanks to our Chinuch system, is avoided at large because of the nature of our female teachers. Which by the way comes to show how productivea secure and safe school system is. And since parents send their kids to school and pay for their education and safety it is the school's CHIYUV to do background checks and take every measure to protect the child's safety. And so this is why in our community as Dr. Lipner confirmed.. has most of its female victims stemming from incest vs. shcools. #90 Anonymous: “Family without TRUST, family without SAFETY, and family to make a healthy outside impression IS NOT A FAMILY.”

I cannot agree with whatever you said more… it’s just that when we’re outside the family, it’s easy for us to say… “take action, it’s the ONLY right way to go”… but the inside members of the family and the victims have a much harder time taking the steps to take action, or knowing what is better, to live like this or start an upheaval… it’s easier for them to be in denial.. and as….

…Yerachmiel Lopin in comment #96 puts it down…”Al choices are awful” - But they must be done!! Y. Loping also states…”As a community we can help out by supporting the relatives left behind, validating the justifiable feelings of the victim, accepting her as guiltless, and just doing all the acts of chesed we do for others in difficult situations.” And THIS I think is the only way to go…. We have to bring out awareness to parents, and have a support committee that they can call for help and maybe support website for parents of molesters or wives of molesters. I have mentioned these tactics as a overall long-term resolution to help Prevent abuse in the future (see post labeled LETS TALK TACHLIS #74)

Dr. A. Lipner: Your firsthand involvement in so many cases and bringing real examples, is a real eye opener for us…. When it comes to sexual abuse, sad reality is that until someone is hurt or someone becomes involved firsthand with a victim.. it is only then that they fully understand. That is why some Rebbeim, mean sooo well (and really, cuz I would never put a true Gadol down) so I must assume they mean well, however while they strive in helping the Klal with soooo many issues… not always is sexual abuse their specialty. Comments like you mentioned that a Rav said… clearly shows this point. “… that the girl should dress more tzniusdig,, will help prevent incest’…” Yes a girl should be tzniusdig… but molesters are SICK they have a sickness.. and weather the 8 year old child is in ragged pajamas or in a wedding gown….. trust me…. That when the molester has their “need” it doesn’t matter about the tznius of the child.

I have once asked someone I really respect a chashuva Rav, about incest, and he said, “Fathers do this to kids because they love them, it could be out of love, we have to tell the father that child doesn’t like it” I still greatly respect this Rav, but his lack of personal invlolvement is clear….. IS THIS THE WAY TO SHOW LOVE? HOW COME REAL LOVING FATHERS.. know that love is PROTECTING and CARING for your children, not giving in to your desires and abusing your children? One more point I have, and then ill give your eyes a little break….. Dr. Lipner mentioned that he asked his colleagues to write up offenders and their feelings.. and they responded “but they are concerned that nobody wants to hear about helping the molesters.” I really feel that to achieve a REAL outcome in dealing with abuse,,,, this step, to HELP molesters, (although for victims, is understandably hard) is a MUST. It is actually the only way to go, if u ask me. In my eyes the actions they did are HORIFFIC…. I HATE WHAT THEY DID AND ARE DOING… AND NOTHING IN THE WORLD WILL JUSTIFY THE PAIND THEY CAUSED but they are really SICK and they are also suffering an addiction that they know is wrong…. (were not talking here about the sociopaths) and the lack of acceptance they know they will get is preventing them to do teshuvah….. and continuing them on their path to hurting more of the innocent. A big part in stopping and preventing abuse is…. Open support for abusers, and their sicknes…. That way maybe they can come forward anonymously on their own,,,,,,,,,,,,, or even if once discovered can be offered the option to go for help or else…. They will be reported.

A certain situation has put me into a position to get a glimpse of how a hurt survivor & victim of incest can actually develop certain capabilities to repeat the cycle in an effort to mask out their pain… not to actually hurt another person….. I imagine it grows from there……… if not pointed out to them… that’s how molesters start…..

ANYWAY BACK TO TACHLIS if all of us.. here ….. who are devoting soooo much time into blogging and reading and answering.. (yes it takes time) if we can put all this positive energy into forming a HUGE PREVENTION and SUPPORT plan.. we would be getting places.


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102. Concerned/Tachlis please tell me it's not true     12/1/09 - 3:03 PM
Anonymous

"I have once asked someone I really respect a chashuva Rav, about incest, and he said, “Fathers do this to kids because they love them, it could be out of love, we have to tell the father that child doesn’t like it” I still greatly respect this Rav, but his lack of personal invlolvement is clear….. "

What part about this Rav do you still "greatly respect" That he doesn't think incest is wrong other than the kids don't like it? or that he thinks that incest is a way of showing your child you love him?

This is the saddest thing I have ever heard and I hope and pray you are making this story up.


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103. To #102     12/1/09 - 3:23 PM
Anonymous

That was my point for stating this example... to show that a Rav, although trying to be helpful, clearly does not have the expertise in giving advice in this area. And besides for being helpful can be harmful, just by their lack of education. I bought this example to show how WRONG it was ... and if u continute to read, I was totally outraged by his answer.

Yes I do respect the other aspects of this Rav, he is a learned person who has personally guided me through other areas that a rav should, like halacha where that is his expertise.... BEING NAIVE as this Rav was... IS NOT OUT TO BE BAD.. IT'S JUST NAIVE.. HE DOESN'T BELIEVE THAT A PERSON COULD DO THIS....HE OBVIOUSLY DOESN'T HAVE A FIRSTHAND VIEW INTO THIS, LIKE THE REST OF US HERE.


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104. Comment #101 and Dr. Lipner     12/1/09 - 4:01 PM
#90 - Chicago

As far as a plan to rehabilitate and facilitate “teshuva” of child molesters, this can't be done by the same people working with victims/survivors for the following reason:

The following is the mashal Rabbi Finkel in Chicago uses to explain the problem. Compare and contrast the way the Israeli Army and American Army operates. Israel has an objective to uproot the enemy. Once that specific agenda is accomplished, they immediately withdraw and move on. As opposed to the Americans who come in to purportedly uproot terror, yet once that has occurred they stay on indefinitely to create a “healthy democracy”, and try to revitalize the infrastructure damaged by the war. As a result, Israel is feared while America is ridiculed.

Similar to the way rachmana litzlan Cancer is dealt with. The oncologist who is responsible to eradicate the enemy does so with the knowledge that the damage won’t be pretty. He understands that it is up to the plastic surgeon take over to rebuild and make things pretty again. He can’t say, “Oy nebach, it’s going to look so bad, so let me leave half the tumor”, that’s risking the life of the patient. He goes in and does what he has to do.

The Number One objective is the quality of life of the survivor. The goal is prevention and immediate eradication of the cancer of molestation from Jewish society. The molester doesn’t deserve a second thought of rachmanus or rehabilitation in the eyes of a person truly concerned with rebuilding survivors. One cannot advocate for a survivor if your heart is tugging for rachmanus on the perpetrator.

The primary objective is the victim/survivor.

As already pointed out previously, the victim/survivor should quash all feelings for the “family member” who acted out against them. They used the costume of family as a disguise to win your trust.

Victim/survivor please remember the slogan:

Family without TRUST, family without SAFETY, and family to make a healthy outside impression IS NOT A FAMILY.


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105. Received in email and posted with permission     12/1/09 - 4:32 PM
Benzion Twerski

Dear Rabbi/Dr. Twerski, Upon reading your joint article that is set to appear in the Jewish Press we were compelled to write. We are parents of what we call a former abuse victim. This former victim was abused by her uncle. We want to state we very strongly agree with this article that both you and Rabbi Horowitz have written. The reason we agree is because this was the derech we took when we were made aware that we were being plagued by this machleh. Our situation was typical of abuse cases that we have read but it was also not typical. We were very lucky with the professional support we had received. This includes from the high school she attended, the pediatrician we were seeing, and the professional that was treating her and us. Their commitment to her and us was what was instrumental of what she and we are today. It was not easy, we endured 6 years of sessions. But she is now a frum Jewish mother with a six year old son and we are a functional family. What we have gone through I do not wish on anyone but has made us stronger and has brought the immediate family closer. Our advice to families who are going through this trauma is to concentrate all your efforts to insure that you take advantage of every opportunity to heal by seeking professional help. As was with us, this is what must consume all your efforts. Everything you read in the blogs and articles as to what should have been done was not in our control and is also not in yours. What others should have done to prevent this from happening to you or your loved one will not help you and your family heal. As we realized, we did not have control to resolve the big issue and it also may not be in yours. This will only take away the strength and time from what you do have control over, that is to move forward and attempt to heal. If this helps one victim this e-mail will be worth it.


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106. TO #102     12/1/09 - 4:51 PM
Anonymous

At best, your Rav is guilty of involuntary man-slaughter being that certainly there were cases of abuse and incest brought to his attention that he did nothing about- hence-the abuse continued because of his ineptitude. It has nothing to do with whether he meant well or not.

Torah/Halacha cannot be "set apart" from this type of miscarriage. It is all one. If a Rav can be so wrong and irresponsible in Dinai Nefashos why would anyone want to listen to him in other areas?


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107. To #106     12/1/09 - 6:07 PM
Gregaaron

Who are you to turn this person against his Rav? Obviously, he understands that there are situations that the Rav has absolutely no shaychus to, and in those cases - in those case only - he is not the person from which to seek advice. Since when does that make him any less of a Rav? For you to call the Rav "guilty of manslaughter at the least" shows that you also seem to be slightly off in your judgement of people and situations.


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108.     12/1/09 - 6:37 PM
Benzion Twerski

I am familiar with cases of “But I meant well.” These are every bit as dangerous as any others, and it is a mistake, even if we criminalize it, to minimize the inherent cruelty. The reasons are both philosophical and practical.

True love is selfless. One can love cake, but if this was true love, one would not subject it to biting, chewing until completely ground up, and swallowed into the acidic abyss of the digestive system. One may “love” the feeling or pleasure that is derived from eating cake. But this is love of self at best, if we borrow the emotional term “love”. In fact, it is not even an emotional experience; it is the seeking of raw pleasure. If someone truly loves another, he/she would be focused on giving, not taking. All abuse and molestation is about taking, at the expense of the other. While the victim may be “consenting”, the action is still about taking, regardless of what the victim undergoes. The perp that excuses his behavior by focusing on the fact that the victim agreed or even wanted it is completely inaccurate, and being basically defensive.

The practical angle on this is that the relationship of the abusing adult to the child victim renders the “consent” or even feigned “pleasure” meaningless. The experience is barbarically cruel, and no victim feels right about it. While a minority of children are resilient and do not reel from the abuse, the majority do, and the results are horrific. One may pull the trigger of a firearm with a loving touch or even with a smile. The murder is irrelevant to the mood the criminal.

There are situations in which the abuser claims to have been expressing love for the child, except that the expression went beyond acceptable boundaries. Within families that have a greater spectrum of permissible forms of physical contact, this can become harder to pinpoint, and harder to make the focus of an accusation.

This Rav, whose response irritated several commenters, is an example of the dire need to educate Rabbonim about abuse and molestation. If they won’t learn this, their Talmud and Halacha scholarship will not help them guide and pasken.


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109. Response to #105     12/1/09 - 6:53 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner

Thank you for sharing your story. It is always inspiring to hear of cases in which survivors of abuse and their families who have been severely traumatized were able to heal.

If possible, would you be able to tell us as well what the professionals did to make sure that the molester was not hurting anybody else? Did rabbanim support you in confronting him? Was there a report made to the authorities? Was this an additional stress on your family or did it bring healing?

Thanks,

Asher


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110. Response to 109     12/1/09 - 8:48 PM
Anonymous

In our case the molester (the uncle) was also an educator and was well known in the community where he is currently residing. The local rabbonim did nothing to promote any healing amongst the family nor did they feel it was necessary to notify the community that he is a problem. However, the professionals did confront him and they did insure he is no longer teaching.

Although it was reported to the authorities, due to the emotional trauma sustained, the extra stress would not have been beneficial in helping our daughter and her siblings to heal. Since nothing goes unnoticed by Hashem, as this molester is currently in full kidney failure for many years.

We are receiving a lot of support from an out of town rov who has provided the immediate family much chizuk and advice that is much needed even to date. This rov restored our emunah and has helped us to grow stronger as a family.

The older siblings have matured and learned to stand up for what is right. This is not the case with the other family members such as grandparents from one side, aunts and uncles and their children. By mutual agreement we do not share even simchas with this side of the family.

Although we wanted to be more involved in resolving the problem of molestation within the community, it became very apparent that we would not be supported by the local rabbonim. As a result, we knew we could not be successful and placed our efforts with dealing with what was in our control. At times, dealing with our own problems was more then we could handle.


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111. This is the kind of discussion we need more of in the community     12/1/09 - 8:51 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

I want to compliment Rabbi Horowitz for backing off from his initial decision to narrowly limit discussion to going for therapy. Initially it grew to include a debate about whether Yeshivas can and should pay for therapy. It has grown into one of the richest discussions I have seen on the web as this affects orthodox Jews.

I continue to have important disagreements with Rabbi Horowitz on a range of issues which I lay out in my "Open Letter ..." on my blog frumfollies.wordpress.com.

However, for this discussion I give him my compliments.


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112. A few thoughts     12/1/09 - 9:32 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey/NY

Dear Readers:

I've been tied up and haven't had much time to post, but I think the discussions here are improtant ones.

A few random thoughts after reading (most of) the posts:

1) Many rabbis do not have working knowledge of abuse matters. And rabbis who do not have professional training in abuse should not and cannot treat victims. I wrote this in the body of this column and have been singing this song for a long time now. in fact, I put Dr Twerski's name ahead of mine in this column to underscore that point.

2) the vast majority of abuse that comes my way is not school related -- especially current cases.

3) education of children works. it is, IMO, the bast way by far to prevent future abuse. a small example. I got a call this evening from a parent in my yeshiva telling me that their (young) son refused to go on the bus today because he didn't recognize the driver. it so happens that there was nothing to be concerned about as it was a substitute driver from the company. BUT THE SYSTEM THEIR PARENTS PUT IN PLACE WORKED!! Better many false positives than having a kid take a ride with a stranger. education. education. education. that is what works. (this is not to diminish other aspects of the abuse issue, only to tell parents that the best way to prevent abuse is to educate your kids.)

4) yerachmiel; thanks for the kind words. actually, you have asher lipner to thank as he gave me the mussar schmuez that made me change my mind. but .... can you please tell me where we disagree??? I don't recall areas where our paths diverge

YH


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113. Mussar Shmooz?     12/1/09 - 10:38 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

As a therapist, I try to work on myself not to come across as preachy, so I hope my message is not really seen as mussar, but only as constructive criticism/eytza toyva.

Reb Yankie, I will be in the West Side for Shabbos and look forward to hearing your talk at Lincoln Square Friday night. Other members of the Jewish Board will come too, and I hope that some of your readers will also be there. Perhaps some of us can meet afterwards and "fabreng" and plan strategy.


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114. Another situation where it often happens     12/1/09 - 10:47 PM
gregaaron

Once we're bringing in other potential situations of abuse, I would like to bring up another one: Peer-on-peer abuse, which often occurs between two kids OF THE SAME AGE. While many times when these things happen it's just innocent playing, there are also many times when one kid is basically controlling the other one, and forcing him to do things - not necessarily physically, but even emotionally (for example, if there is a really popular kid in the class, and he's suddenly inviting one of the "nebs" to his house for Shabbos, it may not be because he suddenly had a change of heart and decided to work on his middos.) Many times the victims in these situations are even more scared than usual to tell anyone, because they logically feel that they will be blamed for not saying no. Again, some times these situations are completely innocent (well, relatively speaking), but I can think of several stories off the top of my head that have happened from anywhere to early elementary school through high school. (And let's not even get started on what can potentially happen in camps.)


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115. Mussar and Shabbos     12/1/09 - 11:40 PM
Yakov Horiwitz - Monsey NY

Asher:

The term mussar schmuez has taken a harsh tone, like so many other areas of Jewish life nowadays (Who would have thought that the word Shabbos and protest would ever be mentioned in the same breath?)

We who had the zechus to hear mussar schmuez'n from Rav Pam zt'l use it as a compliment.

As for Shabbos in LSS; you will probably be bored Friday night. The topics are abuse, mesirah issues, reporting etc. Nothing you would find of interest. :)

Look forward to seeing you.

Yankie


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116. Comment #114     12/2/09 - 7:53 AM
Benzion Twerski

The comment highlighted peer-to-peer abuse. I suggest that we reserve this for another thread. This topic lacks much of the drama that accompanies other forms of abuse, and gets short shrift. But it is a huge subject.

It includes minor-to-minor molestation, bullying (common in schools - for both girls and boys), and includes the gamut of poor social skills. There is always a kid considered a "nebach", who may be more of a follower than a leader, and the class leaders often manage their role quite strongly. If this involves negative behaviors, we have our problem.

For anyone who has been in a faculty position in school or camp, even managing a large family (despite age differences), these phenomena have been observed, and are sometimes harder to detect (except in hindsight).

Again I propose we reserve this for another thread, as it encompasses a stack of dynamics that are different from the abuse/molestation topic of this thread, and include a bunch of others.


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117. To #90 - Chicago regarding post #104     12/2/09 - 12:22 PM
tachlis/concerned

"as far as a plan to rehabilitate and facilitate “teshuva” of child molesters, this can't be done by the same people working with victims/survivors.."

i read your post #104 and it made so much sense... and i started wondering why i have this "thing" in me to want to see it ALL WORK OUT.. like protect survivor and eliminate the molester but by supporting them into therapy, going for help (teshuvah).....

Is it really not a possibility for the word eliminate to mean... help? if they admit to molestation, and agree to commit going for help... (teshuvah) wouldn't that be the ideal? can't we support them into finding help... (when i say support i don't mean agree with them chas v'shalom.)

Of course if like many they do not admit and commit to go for help... then the "Isreaeli Army tactic".. needs to be put into full force... I agree with that... AND I AGREE THAT THE BIGGEST GOAL IS TO STOP ABUSE.. AND PROTECT CHILD...

I would love to hear the opinion of a therapist though (Dr. Lipner??) ... Is a case scenario like this a possible occurrence?

SCENARIO: sexual abuse case where the predator is the father... child realizes and has courage to confront father, he admits, regrets, shows some remorse, and although hesitant to talk about his issues... calls this support anonymous organization , and begs for help, commits to going for the supervised help, and then asks for forgiveness.... wholeheartedly... wouldn't that be a little bit better of a closure (i don't mean closure literally.... CUZ PAIN IS ALWAYS THERE... but whatever closure there possibly could be... ) and ease the healing process of the survivor a little bit?

There is no anonymous helpline for molesters but without it....Has a similar scenario ever happened? Was it beneficial to victim?

(btw i am specifically speaking about abuse where the father was abuser.... not even uncle.. and def not rebbi... since the help of these outside family molestors... will at large benefit the society... i cant see it comforting the victim )


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118. Comment No. 112     12/2/09 - 1:09 PM
Anonymous

I've been tied up and haven't had much time to post...I put Dr Twerski's name ahead of mine in this column

With others, including HaRav Dr. Twerski LOY"T, having -- regularly, for a long time -- generously contributed their valuable time, Torah insights, and professional expertise to this blog and the host participating only minimally... is it just and ethical to name this Web site rabbihorowitz.com ?

Does this send the wrong message to Talmidim regarding plagiarism, Gneivas Daas, etc.?


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119. Plagiarism, Bullying/Abuse and Father-child molestation/closure     12/2/09 - 2:11 PM
Dr. Asher Lipner

It is not plagiralism when you quote your sources. Rashi does it all the time and so does everyone else. It is Rabbi Horowitz's name and courage to put his name on this site that gives this site its credibility. Enough said.

To Dr. Twerski, I agree with one caveat. Yes, bullying and peer social skills problems deserves many volumes not just another thread. It is one more area in which our community has lost its way by not focusing on this problem as much as we focus on "beyn adam lamakom". I am shocked when I see kids in my practice who suffer terrible trauma from bullying in school and the "frum" school's attitude is basically "boys will be boys". If one of the "boys" was eating non-kosher or talking to a girl, rachmana litzlan, or going to a movie, this would not be their attitutde, but perpetrating emotional and physical abuse against a peer has been dropped out of the Torah much the same way that Reform and Conservative have dropped Shabbos and Kashrus. And we wonder why so many Yidden grow up and get involved in criminal activites as adults.

However, there is one specific aspect that needs to be addressed here and now. When kids are sexual with eachother. When is it "boys will be boys" normal healthy experimentation, playing doctor, activities that should be taught are untznius, but are not cause for alarm, shaming, medical attention, and when is it something more sinister. I have had many discussions with professional colleagues who have disagreed and found it complicated to make determinations.

One example that adds something to a rule of thumb is the 16 year old boy thrown our of yeshiva for sexual activities with other boys. The other boys each had only done it with him. He had done it with most of his class. He was clearly the instigator. But even then, a psychological examination was necessary to determine that it was more than experimentation and precociousness, and yes, even leadership ability. He had a very dangerously manipulative personality, many cognitive distoritions about people, and a very well masked selfishness. ONLY on a lie detector test, was he forced to admit that he had been molested as a little kid by a female babysitter.

Another interesting point about this is that he, and many other teenage offenders (who studies show are the largest percentage in society of sex offenders) have significantly less sexual knowledge than their age cohorts. This implies that lack of age appropriate sex education is a risk factor for unhealthy and dangerous acting out. Too bad sex education is assur under all circumstances until someone molests a child and then they get sent to me for among other things "the facts of life".

Now, to the question about the scenario of the confronted father doing tshuvah, aplogizing and getting help. Yes, yes, yes, it can happen, but no, no, no, it usually does not. I just spoke to a woman yesterday who's son had to do this after molesting his younger sister. It was a real success story.

The MAIN factor why this ususally does not happen is because people do not stand up and demand it happen. Of course, there are those offenders who are R'shaim and will never do it. But there are many who simply need a little "stick" or "petch" like a report to police, or rabbanim who threaten them with such (the problem being that most rabbanim are known to never, ever, under any situation carry out such a threat, so they are worthless) but if a rov or a family member uses appropriate tough love, there are a number of offenders who could be brought around to participate in individual and group therapy, to apologize, to participate when appropriate in family therapy and to agree to strict and seriuos safety guidelines, up to and including leaving the home for a while, having only supervised visitations, checking in regularly with a "sponsor" and participating in SA 12 step programs, etc.

It can be done, but when there is nobody strong or serious enough to make sure its done, it won't be.


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120. To # 118     12/2/09 - 2:14 PM
BK

I could not disagree more with your statement.

1. This site is run by R. Horowitz: he chooses the relevant topics, invites other authors, whose ideas R. Horowitz would like to share with his readers, sets the site policy, not to mention the fact that he writes the majority of the articles. Why would you doubt the legitimacy of the site's name?

2. How is signing a name of the article's co-author can be considered plagiarism? This is a pure contradiction to your own argument.

3. Don't you think that if R. Twersky, shlit"a, had any objections to the site's policy, he could deal with them by himself, without this kind of "intervention"?


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121. Comments No. 112 & 118     12/2/09 - 2:17 PM
Ploni

I agree with comment no. 118. Furthermore, above and in the Jewish Press (hardcopy and online), Rabbi Horowitz's name appears before Rabbi Dr. Twerski's.

Who said: One cannot fool all of the people all of the time?


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122.     12/2/09 - 3:59 PM
Benzion Twerski

To all those worried about my honor, take a rest, kick up your feet, and relax. I have not a care in the world whether my name is first or last. This is not humility. It is that I just do not value this as important or meaningful. If it matters to you, enjoy the additional worries, and I hope you have healthy strategies to cope with the chosen anxieties.

Over the years of my career, I have done a fair bit of writing, mostly articles, so far no books. I needed to "get my name out there" so that my existence should be known. At this time, I have all the name recognition I care for plus some. If it matters to some that I place my name on something, or if it is a responsibility, I will do just that. Otherwise, it just doesn't matter much. I have not been able to hide in a crowd for years, and this has denied me the opportunity to disappear for periods of time while not withdrawing from society. Boruch Hashem I am not embarrassed about what I do.

Rabbi Horowitz is the master of this website, and I an here at his invitation. Our friendship goes back a long way, and despite his claims to the contrary, I consider him my rebbe in many ways.


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123. I dont understand     12/2/09 - 7:29 PM
tachlis/concerned

i am so shocked at the comments about who's site, and whos name? How can such questions even be asked? Rabbi Horowitz created this site and has built it up to where it is today.. that even you who posted that comment came to view its articles..... Rabbi Horowitz did not have to excuse hiimself for not being able to post, or who's name is first or last .... I am sure he has a lot of other responsibilites and reasons as to why he was busy and couldn't post... c'mon where is our hakaros hatov??


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124. to #117     12/3/09 - 12:21 AM
eom

Interesting scenario you create, though I do wonder if this ever happens. I was molested by my father for many years. Incidentally my father was also my primary mechanach regarding Yiddishkeit, since he routinely put down my school and mostly everyone that they are not frum enough, this is just the mask he wears to cover up for his wrongdoing, and to get his narcissistic needs met.

Now I don't know if this is true for every perpetrator, but besides being a pedophile I do have to say that my father is a virtual monster. The emotional and verbal abuse that the entire family suffered from him is outrageous. Though I do believe much of this was put into place by him to protect himself. Like the family members were made to question their reality, and not believe in themselves at all, just respect HIM, because this gave him the perfect cover-up and ability to continue doing what he wanted to without getting caught.

Now with such a personality, how do you think one can expect that he would do teshuvah when confronted? I actually wonder if my father's profile is the typical profile for all that molest their own children. I mean, they do need to have some strategy that makes them feel safe to continue doing what they are doing. And what about the guilt and shame that needs to inevitably rise up for them because of their actions?

My father responded to that by putting it on us. It is hard for me to believe that other molesters don't do the same, because if they would take responsibility for the guilt or shame then they would mend their ways. Yet someone who routinely puts their guilt and shame on others is really not the person that would typically do teshuvah.

Also, I believe that once the father broke the boundaries the first time, by molesting his daughter, the true father daughter relationship can never be restored. The dynamics have simply changed too drastically for it ever to go back to normal again.

I also want to take this opportunity to truly thank Rabbi Horowitz for all he does. I feel he is one of the few individuals who is willing to sacrifice for truth. It was approximately 10 years ago when I became aware of a situation where a girl was being abused by her father. I called Rabbi Horowitz and asked him what to do, (while concealing that I too was a victim.) He didn't really have much advice for me then, and in the end I went to the Rav of the Kehillah the father belonged to and gave the matter over to him, since I didn't feel I was able to deal with the issue at that point of my life.

Well a little while later a get a call one day from Rabbi Horowitz, he was just calling to check up if I did anything about the issue I called him about. And when I told him I gave it over to the Rav, he obviously wanted to hear something more concrete. He told me then in a very emotional voice, "Do you know that we currently have a group of girls all coming from frum homes that are living with goyim, and what they all have in common is that they have been molested?" I remember how my hands were shaking as I heard him say that. After all I realized I too could have been in that category. Yet I was amazed at his level of caring, that he actually kept my number and called me back to check up on the case.

Rabbi Horowitz didn't know it then, but he was speaking to me, who is also a survivor, and I felt extremely validated that at least he was outraged, and he cared enough to call back. Thank you Rabbi Horowitz, may Hashem really bless all you do.


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125. Wondering     12/3/09 - 4:44 PM
Anonymous

"It was approximately 10 years ago when I became aware of a situation where a girl was being abused by her father. I called Rabbi Horowitz and asked him what to do, (while concealing that I too was a victim.) He didn't really have much advice for me then, and in the end I went to the Rav of the Kehillah the father belonged to and gave the matter over to him, since I didn't feel I was able to deal with the issue at that point of my life." Why didn't R' Horowitz tell you to call the cops and why didn't you call the cops? I should hope that if this were to happen today, both would use the police as their FIRST option.


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126. To EOM     12/3/09 - 6:55 PM
T/Concerned

It's so amazing that we can all share our experiences... and discuss this in an open forum... thank you Rabbi Horowitz and everyone else that pitches in.

The situation in the molestation case i know is actually quite different, her father was the abuser, and he did it in a really manupulative "loving" father daughter relationship, the mother on the other hand was the one that was always negative, and putting them down, yelling etc.. so the child actually craved the "good parent" and the "attention" he provided.

He is same monster, but didn't appear as one... child looked up to this parent... until she realized the abuse,,, it was the only person she trusted most... every situation was done with some bribery for guilty feelings after, and in the sitch child felt that she had to do this for him, because shes his special daughter!!!!!!!

Your heart can go out, when you read this, i personally i think that the situation above is very very destructive and has the ability to create a real serious personality disorder, it is so confusing and every essence of trust and relationships and family is destroyed.

The effects are heartbreaking... these children walk around amongst us as totally normal, adorbale,,, but are actually suffering INTENSE INTENSE EMOTIONAL FEELINGS.

I this particular case, when the child discoverd (teenager) the abuse, opened up to what was happened, she confronted him, he admitted, and cried and begged for forgivness... this is by far a solution, and the more reality hit, the more the anger grew, and the realization of what happened and its effects,,, was and is heartbreaking, ... theres a long healing process but its just starting, and i felt that if the case scenario that i played out earlier is possible.... this would probably be the case where it CAN with the right support happen... whereas the case you described sounds a bit not possible, but either way..... bottom line... abuse is TERRIBLE .... WE MUST DO SOMETHING TO PREVEN THIS FOR THE FUTURE.... WHAT COULD WE DO? WE HAVE TO START PREVENTION TODAY!!!


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127. To #125     12/3/09 - 8:07 PM
Tachlis/Concerned

Do u think a child has the courage to call the police on their father..... molestor or not its their family, their shidduchim, their siblings that have to be taken into account.. whereas when its a rebbi, uncle, etc... its easier to call police

secondly, not rabbi Horowitz and not a friend could report this man, it has to be the victim.

10 years ago we did not have the support and knowledge we have today....but then and now.... noone's against the victim going to the police... everyone agrees that that is the best solution... the only solution, the problem is that, its usually not the victim that is confronted to go to the police its usually s.o thats involved like Rabbi H. or others that want to... and can't


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128. response to wondering & T/concerned     12/4/09 - 9:03 AM
eom

Why dind't I call the police? I was motivated by my desire to help this girl. And I don't know if calling the police would of just further complicated her life, or if it would of helped her. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I would of wanted someone to call the police in my case. I definetly would not be married to my wonderful husband, or been able to hold down the prestigious job I have now had the police gotten involved. It is just the fact that in our community if I would of been removed from the home I would of been viewed as damaged goods by all, and my opporturnitiew would be severly curtailed. By no means is this RIGHT, but it is just the way things are. I think this is equivalent to the story where the guy keeps crossing the street even though he sees a car coming because it is his light, and ends up getting killed in as accident, so he died while being right.

to T/concerned, I too loved my father. While the abuse was going on he was extremely "loveing" to me, and I had absolutely no relationship with my mother. My mother is qite a simple woman, and my father is really bright and outstanding manipulator. He convinced me (at age 4-7) that my mother didn't like me, because she didn't understand me, and only he appreciated my greatness. So of coursed I shuned my mother and adored my father. At the same time, during daily life whent the abuse was not happening he would be very verbally abusive to all of us, and made sure that we all questioned are own intelligence and considered him supreme. I would like to caution you about buying into the father you talk about's tears and his claimed regrets. It seems like this father really plays victim well. Crying and saying "I'm so sorry, please forgive me," as strange as this may sound could feel quite liberating for the perpatator. (my father would soak his machzor through and through with tears every Yom Kipur,) and this cannot be used to judge whether a perpatrator has done teshuvah. I think the proof is in the pudding. Did the perpetrator change his life or didn't he? And I do believe that if you look closly you will find that there are probalby many more incidents in daily life where the perpatrator is acting without a consceince. The mere fact that he hides his actions indicate that he is aware that if others knew what he was doing they would OSTROCIZE HIM. Yet his consceince allows him to continue doing what he wants to, and continue to pretend that he is ? ????? ???. Crying and begging for forgiveness might also just feed into his need to protray himself as and upstanding individual. In her book, "Because I Remmeber Terror Father I Remember You," Sue Silverman, (she is Jewish though not frum,) describes how her father also admited to the abuse and shared how sorry he was, yet latter on she did feel the need to press changes, so while the court case was going on her father kept putting guilt on her that he must help her mother with a younger disabled sibling, and if he goes to jail the sibling will suffer. Like instead of taking responsablity that his actions caused his disabled son to suffer, the victim is made to carry that responsablity. I think this is an example of someone pretending to have done teshuvah, yet hasn't really changed at all, or trully taken responsability for his actions. And why do I feel it is so important for the victim not to fall for this kind of teshuvah? Because in my situation my father too claims he is extremely sorry, (though he still insists that he needed to abuse me becasue my mother hated me, and it is ok to tell a child her mother hates her etc...etc.. and he did nothing on the ground to turn his life around ?????) Yet initially I bought this "teshuvah" simply because I so desparately wanted it to be true. And as long as I believed it I couldn't break free from my destructive inner relationship with my father. Thus I now understand that buying into this facade compromised my ability to heal.


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129. To EOM     12/4/09 - 10:17 AM
T/C

Hi, its funny i also read the book, "Because I remember terror, Father i remember you... as well as the following series that she wrote on addiction, and for anyone caring or that went through abuse its and amazing book to read. You are right, that seeing father cry and beg forgiveness feels good momentarily, but does nothing for long run, it actually makes him feel good ,,, that's it.

Crying and begging forgiveness is not what is meant by teshuva though. What is meant, is a commitment to go for help, so SA meetings etc.. and change his current ways.

The example i listed, is actually quite recent, and as a friend i should be the one calling the police, but again, i can't see myself doing that, i too am in a dillema. Has the abused stopped for her? YES... does that mean anything? NO.. cuz they have a large family, DO U KNOW HOW I SHIVVER TO THINK ABOUT THE REST OF THE CHILDREN, i am very concerned about this and am not sitting back, but i was told by a therapist that since my friend is over a certain age she is considered an adult, and she has to report him, and as far as the rest of the household, an outside party could report him, but only if there is proof. (wich we dont have)

I keep asking friend if she's not worried about the rest of them? she says she is and keeps asking them questions and so far she sees nothing to worry about... she feels like it was only done to her, she always felt that it was she who was "special" the whole family knew it too! IS THIS POSSIBLE? anyone knows?

What else can i do? i feel like if a system or organiziation was put into place i would have who to call or turn to for constructive advice.

To EOM... what happend in your case? with your father? wiht mother? with rest of family? did he go for help?

THank you!


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130.     12/4/09 - 10:59 AM
#90 - Chicago

Move on from your notion of teshuva for abominable behaviors.

The tears and apologies are meant to have the victim drop his/her guard in order to allow further abuse. They don't expect any assertive reaction from the victim. Most importantly, they DON'T LOVE YOU. They are taking advantage of your naivette. They are using their power of coercion against you. They are breaking down ALL barriers of love, care, and concern for your wellbeing.

Take the good and warm feelings out of your heart and look at the situation AS AN INDEPENDENT OBSERVER. It can be done.

As for the comment, "The mere fact that he hides his actions indicate that he is aware that if others knew what he was doing they would OSTRACIZE HIM.":

Please realize that the sociopath, master manipulator, and evil person the perpetrator is, is NOT SCARED. He is ready to spin his way through town laughing about the mentally unstable, liar child he brought into the world. You will be the one ostracized NOT HIM. He knows that his black hat makes the rabbis blind to his faults, and deaf to your claims. The ONLY WAY IS GOING TO THE POLICE. They will get to the bottom of his manipulation and criminal mind. AT LEAST, FILE A POLICE REPORT AND SEND A COPY TO A PERSON YOU TRUST.

Again, stuff your feelings of "family" and warmth towards the abusive family member. Remember the mantra: Family without TRUST, family without SAFETY, and family to make a healthy outside impression IS NOT A FAMILY.

Do what needs to be done to protect yourself, your future spouse, and your future children from the monster in your family. It might be tough, but it is so rewarding.


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131. Reporting to Police     12/4/09 - 12:23 PM
Anonymous

127, you are incorrect. That is why there are mandatory reporters. If certain people are aware of abuse they MUST report it to the police.


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132. To 131     12/5/09 - 9:58 PM
T/C

I heard this first hand from a legal therapist who deals with sexual abuse, if the victim is over 20, no one but the victim can call police without victim's consent.

Under 20, they actually MUST report, but can only once there is proof.


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133. Vicki Polin     12/6/09 - 1:44 AM
Vicki Polin - Baltimore, MD - vickipolin@aol.com

I've only skimmed what's written here. One of the benefits of reporting abuse to law enforcement is that it makes you eligible for the crime victims compensation funds. This is a federally funded program in which those who have been victimized can be reimbursed for medical expenses, which includes therapy. If you were victimized in NY you would need to contact the Crime Victim Board: http://www.cvb.state.ny.us/services/Services.aspx

Here's information on the Nation Association of Crime Victim Compensation Board. http://www.nacvcb.org/


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134. Crime Victim Compensation     12/6/09 - 1:46 AM
Vicki Polin - Baltimore, MD - vickipolin@aol.com

Here is a link to find the Crime Victim Board in all 50 states: http://www.nacvcb.org/statelinks.html


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135.     12/6/09 - 8:51 AM
Benzion Twerski

The main reason we cannot rely on or accept the perpetrator's teshuvah is because we can NEVER know whether it has happened. No Rav, no Beis Din, no individual has any way to know anything about that. HKB"H alone knows, and He is not telling us anything. All we can rest on is his demonstrated behaviors, and we are lousy at predicting future behaviors, even the best of psychologists and researchers.

The bitter tears and beggings for forgiveness do not shake me much. Here's why. In all cases I have seen, the nature of the request for mechila goes something like this: Please forgive me, my family is shattered, it is so painful to watch this, I am so lonely without a normal relationship with you, etc. The entire issue is the pain of the abuser - not the victim. We can prepare the abuser with a proper bakoshas mechila, but that just places words into his mouth. They need to grow and mature into a state of mind in which they have true concern for the pain they caused, undertake to do whatever can to help the victim tolerate the pain and deal with it better, and demonstrate a total attitude-behavior change in which the selfish feelings will not dominate his life. And that is a tough calling.

Yes, long term therapy can help, true teshuvah can help, it is not hopeless. But the achievement will not arrive as quickly as a perpetrator will seek to ask mechila to get the parsha done and over with - again selfish.

We need to get away from the discussion of teshuvah. It is not relevant to us, even though it is a real issue.


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136. The importance of Teshuvah     12/6/09 - 8:23 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

I agree as I noted above that it is a very unlikely event that molesters will ever do proper teshuvah, although I have seen it done, and therefore would not rule it out. I am in the process of working with my own molester, who has reached out and is trying in his own way to make amends. I am not hopeful that he will be able to really take responsibility fully for his actions, but have decided to allow him to try.

The people who really, really, really need to do Teshuvah are the rest of us. The molesters are sick and many are sociopaths. I don't believe they have the insanity defense, but "Ayn Adam Choteh Elle Im Ken Nichnas Bo Ruach Shtus", and they certainly need professional help if they are even to hope for Teshuvah. But what is the excuse of the rest of us?

WE HAVE ALLOWED THIS TO GO ON FOR TOO LONG.

As Rabbi Horowitz once posted, there are different levels of complicity among us. I would propose the following categories/levels of sins of commission and sins of omission for which we all need to do much soul searching:

1) There are those among us who have been actually complicit in covering up for our friends or neighbors or rabbis, etc. who we knew were molesting children. These people are guilty of "Mesayeay Ldvar Aveira" and "Grama Bnizakin" which is "Chayav Bdinei Shamayim" if not "Bdinei Adam" (as Gregaaron pointed out). Among these are school and youth group administrators who have knowingly placed alleged or known molesters in positions of power over children, unbeknown to parents, a further "chiyuv" of placing a "Bor B'rshus Harabim."

2)There are those who have chosen to live in denial that this goes on in our community because it was too painful for them to admit. They are guilty of lying to themselves and others, and ignoring the pain of those suffering around them.

3) There are those who have acknowledged the pain and allowed themselves to believe and to empathize with the victims, but were afraid to stand up for them due to fear of "retribution" by others in the community. They are guilty of "Lo Saguru Mipnei Ish". A lack of Bitachon in Hashem, and caring more about what people say. The Mishna Brurah in the first Siman discusses the dangers of this attitude.

4) There are those who have used a false "frumkeit" to justify keeping quiet, such as Mesirah, Lashon Harah, Rachmanus on the perpetrator's family, etc. They are guilty of "Kol Hamerachem Al Ha'achzarim, Sofo L'Achzer Al Harachmanim"....cruelty to the future children who then became victims of abuse.

5) There are those who tried to speak up but have given up, feeling "there is nothing that we can do if our leaders and our Gedolim are unable to solve the problem". Again, this "Yee'ush" is a lack of Bitachon and on another level it is a lack of caring for the pain of others. A parent who loves a child does not give up on them even if the "experts'" prognosis is bad.

6) There are those of us that have been limited in our thinking to a one-dimensional approach to solving the problem (looking to blame our leaders, relying on our legislature through the Markey Bill, encouraging victims to get therapy, etc.) without the flexibility to trust other approaches and to work with others for the benefit of all. Rabbi Blau has repeatedly spoken out about the importance of all advocates working together B'achdus to fight the real enemy of child abuse.

7) And there are those in our community who now publicly acknowledge past communal mistakes that need to be rectified, but do nothing to actually redress the problem. They are guilty of "Al Cheyt Shechatanu L'fanecha B'Viduy Pe".

We cannot, if we are going to change as a community, get very far with our future if we don't have "Charata" - remorse, and true confession of our mistakes in the past.

Many of the people who have been the most outspoken leaders in creating change have themselves acknowledged feelings of remorse for not doing enough in the past. Rabbi Blau, Zev Brenner, Dov Hikind and Rabbi Eisenman have all said they wish they would have understood the problem better and avoided mistakes in the past,and they feel more responsible now to help solve the problem.

In my case, whatever I have been able to accomplish in trying to bring awareness and education to the community is inspired and flamed by feelings of guilt from when I was 18 years old and I did not stand up for a friend of mine who was thrown out of yeshivah for alleging he was abused by a rebbie. Es Chatai, Ani Mazkir Hayom. And I still feel I have not completely recognized how deep the problem is, because it is so painful for me to even read this site and the tragic stories. I also need to learn more about how to work better with everyone together, and to accept each person's contribution even if it is not as great as I would like it to be.

We all need to do Teshuvah. A Chasidic Rebbe asked a frum person once if he was a Baal Teshuvah, and the man responded defensively, "No." The Rebbe said "Why not?" Bmakom Shebaalei Tshuvah Omdin, Ayn Kol Birya Y'cholin Laamod. In the place that a Baal Teshuvah stands, no other creature is able to stand.

Hashem should give all of us the courage, love and wisdom to do Teshuvah Shleima. Can anyone doubt, that if we are helped to do this, we will be able to protect our children and to heal the survivors?


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137. Can an abuser really do teshuvah?     12/7/09 - 1:33 AM
Vicki Polin - Baltimore, MD - vickipolin@aol.com

I am a bit confused here in the conversation of an abuser doing teshuvah. The reason I'm throwing my thoughts out is because according to research there is no known cure for this terminal disease or what ever you want to call it. According to old stats from 1989, over a 25-year period 52% of child molesters are caught re-offending. Considering the fact that only 16% of victims ever report their cases to law enforcement, the odds are that the stats are much higher.

How can we even say long term therapy for molesters can help? I don't mean to sound so cynical, yet after working in this field so long, I just don't understand how we can expect a molester to do "real" teshuvah?


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138. Healing Survivors     12/7/09 - 2:13 AM
Vicki Polin - Baltimore, MD - vickipolin@aol.com

Back in June I was invited to speak on a panel at the National NOW conference (National Organization for Women) in Indianapolis, IN.

Right before I attended the NOW conference I was amazed to learn that the majority of case of clergy abuse, was not with members of the clergy and children, yet members of the clergy and adult women.

My first reaction was denial, yet then I went through the cases we had on The Awareness Center's site and I started seeing the same pattern. As much as we are in denial regarding our children being victimized, we are in much greater denial about the fact that unsuspecting adults (both men and women) are also victimized -- not just by clergy

We all think as we get older that these sorts of crimes would not happen to us, yet they can and do.

A few weeks after I spoke at the NOW conference I was assaulted by my rabbi's brother -- a man who also has semicha.

I have to admit that I am still in shock over what happened, and especially the fact that it took me 33 days to make a police report.

Can you imagine how difficult it would be for most women to come forward to make a report like I did, especially a women in the frum world? or even a frum man?

The offender in my case was found guilty of 2nd degree assault, 4th degree sexual assault. His sentence was basically a slap on the hand He received Probation Before Judgement (PBJ).

Even though the perpetrator in my case only received a slap on the hand, I am still very happy I went through and filed charges. I needed to have my day in court. I needed to hear the judge say he was guilty.

I'm sharing my story with you because I'm sure that there are other women out there who want to speak up, yet are afraid to do so. I'll admit it has not been easy. I am being shunned by many people in the Baltimore community -- because I filed the charges against my rabbis brother, and refused to drop the case.

I was even more surprised of things people have said to me on the streets after the perpetrator in my case was found guilty.

The truth of the matter is that the individuals who shun me or have said hateful words are a major part of the problem. They are truly misguided individuals. This is something that can be stopped when our rabbis will start speaking out against this sort of behavior instead of encouraging it.

I can and will live my life without those who have turned their backs on me. I can get past the sadness and loneliness. I just need time to mourn my losses and heal.

I think it's important for me to say that I will use this experience to help others. For me, it is vitally important to take a bad situation and transform it into something good. My hope is that our rabbis will begin to learn that it is more important to help those who have been victimized heal, then it is to protect the perpetrators.

I think it's also vitally important to say that Survivors need to be able to heal so that they can earn parnasa for themselves and also their families.


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139. All talk no action     12/7/09 - 11:44 AM
Joey - NY

You're all talk and no action. Ive been hearing this from you for years and when it comes to actually standing up for victims you bail on us, call us bums and liars. You align yourselves with guys like MD Niederman that denies sexual abuse in Williamsburg where I was abused at the age of 7. Rabbi Twerski, maybe u should start calling on your colleagues to close the Mikvas to anyone 18 and under, that would be a nice start..


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140. Things Rabbonim Can Do     12/7/09 - 12:35 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin frumfollies.Wordpress.com - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Vicki (#138),

Thank you for sharing this terrible experience for the sake of your healing and to help others.

The shunning you are talking about is an awful aspect of the problem. The very same people who profess sympathy for victims turn on a dime when it comes to the reckoning. They say things like: “yes we care, BUT: don’t call the police, don’t testify, don’t embarrass him, he did teshuvah, it was his first time, it was his last time, it will hurt his family, it will hurt your shidduchim, it will hurt your relatives, it will hurt this or that organization, it will make the community look bad.

Rabbonim who truly care, DARE! They dare to say out loud that these pathetic excuses are the bedrock of a system that gives abusers virtual immunity. They use their pulpits and offices to demolish this edifice of rationalizations for inaction.

I said to an insider that the shidduch obstacle to reporting will disappear the day a prominent rebbe or Rosh Yeshiva makes a shidduch with a family that was active in reporting and prosecuting molesting. He said, “no, people will just say that there is something wrong, that he settled for such a shidduch.” Alas he may be right. However, when enough rabbonim step to the plate with action, the situation will improve.

Rabbis need to step forward and say, you cannot counsel or rule on these matters unless you are properly educated about the phenomena. It is well accepted that you cannot rule on ritual slaughter unless you know the relevant anatomy. No amount of halachic book knowledge is enough.

But strangely, the standards for ruling on abuse are shockingly casual. Kosher certifying organizations pride themselves on their forays into outside technical literature to understand food chemistry and production processes. They maintain and share massive databases. In contrast very few Rabbis can claim acquaintance with the growing body of research in this area. Nobody has mentioned any databases of abusers. Instead Vicki does this important work for the community for which she regularly gets trashed. Again, Rabbonim who care should use their pulpits to demand standards of knowledge and diligence that match current standards for kashruth.

Vicki, you are correct in your supposition that almost all claims of repentance are false. Comments by Benzion Twerski, Asher Lipner and others on this site make that clear. However the topic keeps coming up because there is an important halachic issue. The ban on informing is cancelled when there is substantial danger of repetition. Molesters and their protectors brandish repentance to dispute the claim that they will molest again. In the context of orthodox life, important rabbis must take the lead in saying that for all practical purposes we have to assume recidivism by offenders barring extraordinary evidence to the contrary.

Benzion Twerski makes the useful point that only G-d can ascertain if repentance is sincere and the sinner has mended his/her ways. However ordinary humans can certainly spot most of the fakers. The fakers start out by understating the gravity or extent of their crimes. They impugn their complainants, threatening them and trying to intimidate them. They bleat about mercy for themselves, their families, and their jobs rather than focusing on the needs of those they hurt. They make no offers of compensation. They do not offer to remove themselves from the situations that are conducive to their sins. Here is another area where prominent rabbis should be taking the lead in educating their olam (followers) to reject all whining about teshuvah when the fakery is obvious.

Vicki, In spite of all this teshuvah fakery there are good reasons to maintain the concept while recognizing that it is rare. It is a cardinal element of Jewish faith that repentance is possible. Vicki, I know we both respect a Rabbi whose ruling allowed Boruch Lanner many more years of molesting because he truly admitted his mistakes and took major corrective action. I suspect we agree that there are some authentic cases of younger, less egregious first time offenders that we don’t want to write off. Some of them may get it right. Admittedly we are talking about a tiny proportion of all offenders. But as long as we are vigilant about rejecting fake claims of repentance I would like to validate the tiny band of sincere penitents. A few of them may even become our best advocates in the future if they can find the courage to acknowledge their misconduct.

Alas, the current climate of concealment and non-reporting works against repentance. Leading rabbis could bolster repentance by helping the community to repent individually and collectively by pointing out that repentance in all matters starts by fully confessing, accepting the consequences, and repairing the damage (which includes paying for it). Teshuvah should not become a slogan to ward off prosecution. In fact prosecution should be supported to promote some more real tshuvah.

Yerachmiel Lopin, frumfollies.wordpress.com


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141. To Yerachmiel     12/7/09 - 1:06 PM
#90 - Chicago

Teshuvah should not become a slogan to ward off prosecution. In fact prosecution should be supported to promote some more real tshuvah.

This is another GREAT mantra to use!

It's time to move off this teshuva kick. Therapy and teshuva for molesters is NOT the priority in this entire food chain of Orthodox molestation. Prevention and rebuilding the lives of previous victims is of far greater import than the comfort of the dirty criminal and their family shame.


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142. HELP please?     12/7/09 - 1:29 PM
HELP

So basically from what I am reading above.... this is what I have to do???

I know of a molester, let's say a father that for certain molested his daughter for years, there are other children in this family.....as a friend to that daughter, I would be mechiyav to report this man??

Now let's say she's over 21? Can I report, or does she have to? Let's say she doesn't want to... not now anyway? (yes, she's in shidduchim) What do I do? What am I mechiyav to do?


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143. Survivors:     12/7/09 - 1:46 PM
t/c

SURVIVORS:

Question???

If as a little child, let's say from Kindergarten through - 4th grade, your parents AND your school, would have educated you regularly about:

Proper touch, what to do if something or someone doesn't feel right? That if a Rebbi/Morah even an Uncle/Brother/Tatty, ever tells you a secret, it is ok to tell Mommy or ________. That any area covered by your bathing suit cannot be touched or asked to touch by anyone, and if yes come and tell _______ or write a note and leave it ______ even if you are scared... we will believe you.

Survivors - do u feel that having the knowledge and support from a parent and safe personel at your school would have done ANYTHING to help stop the abuse any sooner that it has?

Please respond with a YES, NO and WHY?

THANK YOU!


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144. teshuvah for molestation     12/7/09 - 2:11 PM
Anonymous

Once again, I would like to weigh in on the irrelevance of 'teshuva' to this discussion. Even if a bas kol would announce that by Hashem's standards a molester achieved complete teshuvah, where does that leave us? Teshuvah may arradicate accountability in Shamayim, but it doesn't eliminate the pathology. We still would not risk hiring the repentant perpetrater as a rebbe, and we still have to deal with the repercussions being suffered by survivors. So in terms of our communal achrayus, teshuvah changes absolutely nothing and has zero impact on the work we have cut out for us. It serves the purpose of directing conversation to the needs of the abusers rather than the abused--a rather twisted and callous distortion.


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145. To #137 (Vicki) & #143 (t/c)     12/7/09 - 3:18 PM
Gregaaron

First of all, Vicki, with all due respect, statistics are worth nothing with regard to Teshuvah. Try to think in terms of any aveirah outside of this subject - a person does it, and then feels bad and does REAL teshuvah. Does that mean that the desire to do the aveirah has gone? Not likely. The one who is sincerely doing teshuvah is taking a good look at him/herself, and saying, "Even though I will still have the same desires, and may even be put into a situation again, I will prevail this time, and not succumb again."

The same thing can be applied here - the molester may still have the same feelings (which is why, even after Teshuvah is done, he should not be allowed any contact with kids - as Chazal say on this past week's Parsha, we don't shake a dog by the ears (put people into situations that could stir up trouble), but (s)he will not fall into the same trap again.

T/C-

I can only speak for my own situation, but no, it probably would not have helped. When I was told to immediately tell if anyone ever does inappropriate touching (after it had already started happening), my thought process went something like, "Well, you always tell me I have to listed to a Rebbi no matter what he says, and since he said NOT to tell anyone, I have to listen to him." That being said, each kid/parent/situation is different, and I'm sure it helps in many cases.


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146. Comments on comments     12/7/09 - 4:31 PM
Benzion Twerski

This is a string of comments on comments.

Reb Asher:

Your refocusing of teshuvah to all of us is well taken. That is where it matters. Those who were the obstacles, actively or passively to preventing this problem have teshuvah that is sorely needed. It starts with taking action to change. This is the azivas hachait that the Shaarei Teshuvah addresses in the beginning of his sefer.

In the categories of those who need to do teshuvah, most are obvious and without argument. I do take issue with #6 and #7, perhaps because they elicit defensiveness for me. But I believe I have a point.

In #6, you refer to those of us who are uni-dimensional, and are guilty for not having the flexibility to address the other aspects of this multidimensional issue. I take this as a personal challenge directed at the article that crowned this thread. This criticism is not only unwarranted, but I categorically reject it. I do not have any specific agenda, but there are times when there is a target audience for a specific message.

Offering first aid to the injured at the scene of a tragedy is not prevention, and nothing can be claimed that it will reduce the incidence of whatever caused the injuries. Would you eliminate the fire department just because we can mandate and implement fire prevention strategies? We specifically noted that there are other important aspects to abuse. Our target audience was those who are already victims. This is not uni-dimensional, and there was never the intent to be inflexible to other needed changes. The focus was specific and not to exclude other angles. Furthermore, the ones that need to hear this message are not the same ones as need to hear the other worthy messages.

I am much more interested in preventing suicide for someone at risk than enlisting him/her to become public advocates for the cause, however worthy it may be.

In fact, I think that this advocacy – for the victim at risk of suicide – is a “red hat” issue (will explain in a comment if someone does not know what this means).

#7 is also a gross overstatement. There are those of us that have a voice, whether one of authority or as grassroots. We each need to be addressing those aspects of the problem that we can, and coordinating with others to participate in the big picture efforts. But not everyone is capable of participating in this effort. There are many other needed, critical, and important causes in the community that are of equal stature. Not everyone can do everything. The tailor should sew clothing, the shoemaker make shoes, and the electrician run wiring. None should do surgery, and most would do poorly with laundry or washing the floors. Each of us has our own individual missions.

I fully agree that the cause of reducing and eliminating abuse is one of the vital ones that has been ignored too much for too long, but it is not the only one. The fixing of this problem is not the mission of every member of the Klal (as far as being directly involved). Those in useful positions with the appropriate skills need to do this. It is wrong to make everyone else guilty.

Joey:

The closing of mikvaos to anyone under 18 is neither a good idea, nor am I in a position to bring about any such thing. If there should be such a thing, which I would hotly challenge elsewhere, it would be the responsibility of the parents to hold their children back from using the mikva. Otherwise, it is not the mikva’s responsibility to stop people from going (though they should not allow anyone with a record of being a molester from entering). Let’s remember who the criminal is.

Yerachmiel:

You noted that most people can identify the fakers (doing teshuvah that is barely skin deep). I respectfully disagree. Even the most experienced and seasoned addiction professional has been fooled. Moreover, the individuals we are addressing are classic manipulators. They may even have a superficial sincerity (don’t ask me to define this – if you worked in the field, you will know what I mean) that can be taken as much more than it is. Remember that the molester is sick, and is prone to relapse even when trying to refrain from doing it. So not all people are fakers. They are just not recovered enough to render them safe. And that is not enough for me. And since only HKB”H knows, I have to leave those matters up to Him. I cannot count on self statements (even with recitation of tehilim, crying through davening, etc.) that true teshuvah has been achieved.


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147. Dr. Twerski     12/7/09 - 6:57 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Thanks for the support and the questions.

On #6 you read me totally wrong, and I'm sorry if you took it personally. I was not at all referring to this article specifically, but, among other things, to the idea presented at the beginning of this thread that the discussion of suicide and therapy should be held "outside" other important aspects of the problem. I was also referring to those who put all their faith in and make the Markey bill a litmus test for advocacy, and will not work with anyone who opposes it, and to those who feel getting everyone to go to the police is the whole answer as well. I admitted that I have personally made some of these mistakes myself, and am learning to change my middos to be more flexible in finding solutions and working with others. In fact I just, 20 minutes ago, had a discussion with a Rabbi from the Yeshivh in which I was abused, trying to find common ground on what needs to be done. (We have a ways to go still).

#7) As the kids these days say, Pulllleease! Even the butchers the bakers and the candlestick-makers offer a couple of dollars to our cause, to protect THEIR kids, or at least show some moral support to those of us who do, as opposed to continuing the communal condemnation and "shame" they continue to heap on the advocates. There is nobody who cannot do anything.

I was specifically alluding to our leaders who have made grandstanding "apologies" and calls for "tikun Haavar" and have not even been willing to meet with survivors to offer a few words of support.

But in fact, I believe that no matter what other chesed you are dealing with and if it is more or less or the same importance as children's physical and spiritual lives, you can still if you believe that our community has done wrong, do SOME action to help correct it.

One of my favorite examples is if every yid would simply ask their rov to give even one drasha about the topic or to send out one letter, if every yid would ask his or her kids schools "what are you doing to ensure my kids' safety", if every yid would simply take the time to visit our website at JBAC and sign our Yom Kippur resolution, if every yid would even say one kippitel thillim for those of their brothers and sisters who have been abused (there is a special mishebeyrach that rabbanim have written for this) how much healing would we have? What if every yid who had a survivor in his or her shul who was brave enough to speak up and go to the police encouraged the Gabbai to give him an alyiyah to be mechabed him as opposed to having him or her thrown out of the shul for "mesirah"?

Enough with the excuses for klal yisroel. Time for all of us to step up to the plate. As Rabbi Horowitz has written "Lmaan Hashem" Ad Mosai??


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148. A mivkah's obligation     12/7/09 - 7:18 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

Joey,

After a strong letter from Reb Nachum Rosenberg in which he described the Zupnik Mikvah in Meah She'arim as resembling a "Toeyva Bath House" the Badatz wrote a psak that there has to be a shomer there at all times to watch that nothing untoward happens.

I feel it would be appropriate for those children whose parents do not have the knowledge or (unfortunatley all too often) the concern for their own childrens safety, for Mikvas, which has been the source of so much molestation and tragedy over the years, to have rules that no child is allowed in unaccompanied by a parent.

While this would not necessarily protect against all molestation, it would at least send a strong message, to parents and to molesters that they should all watch out.

Security guards would also be in order. Statistically a child has a far better chance of being raped in a Mikvah than of being attacked in a shul by terrorists on Yomim Noraim, but which shul does not hire a security guard just in case?


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149.     12/7/09 - 7:56 PM
Joey

Again I will disagree with you. The pedophile isn't the problem here in my old community, it is the power that protects and allows them to go on and on freely. ie Satmar with Reichman and Y Brauner. Brauner which was recently Re arrested is allowed to go to the Mikvahs and not being kicked out. A father who takes 3 or four kids to the mikvah on Friday afternoon is impossible to monitor them constantly.I remember when I was 14 years old when Y Brauner was attacked Y kraus from the Vaad hatznius in the Satmar shul on 54th st and dint end up on the offender list till 2001, that means he has 8 more years to re assault more victims which he did. As a survivor it pains me to watch rabbis and people like you that can't and won't call out the people in power letting all this nonsense go on.. As Hillel said, If not now, When?


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150. I Need an Answer Really QUICKLY     12/7/09 - 8:00 PM
Anonymous

Do you mean to say that Hashem accepts the person who ruined, destroyed, and killed my life just because some dumb bloggers says he's cured?

Do you mean that the molester can be accepted back for teshuva without asking mechilla from EVERY LAST, SINGLE victim he harmed and pay to rebuild our lives?

They never apologize or admit guilt or help stand people back up again. All they care about is the pain they are in. They kvetch to us, Oy people are looking at us, Oy we're having shalom bayis problems because of you, Oy my daughter is getting older and older, Oy people are going to find out and ruin my life. They should have thought about that before they played their games with young boys.

You wouldn't give a bottle to an alcoholic who did teshuva, you wouldn't lend a car to a guy who had three accidents in a year even when he said he did teshuva, you don't give a gun license to a convicted bank robber who did teshuva, WHY WOULD YOU PEOPLE GIVE LITTLE KIDS TO A MOLESTER WHO DID TESHUVA? How little do you care about new victims to be tricked by the crocodile tears of that casket of uncleanliness?

Molesters are not teshuvable people because they have done their thing on so many people it would be impossible to rebuild every victim. So for one person to get an apology and say the molester is a baal teshuva is crazy, what about the other victims who he doesn't even remember about?

I'm a gentle and caring and sensitive person who makes sure everyone who meets me has a good feeling about being a Jew, but to a molester there are not enough curses to come up with to say about him, his family, his supporters and their families. When I saw the word teshuva about a molester my blood boils.

Tell me it isn't so, or this religion is not for me....

I am so offended by the thought I won't be able to function until someone clarifies this mess up for me.


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151. To #150     12/7/09 - 8:51 PM
Gregaaron

I feel your pain, I really do. Obviously, no Teshuva of a bein adam l'chavero is ever complete without asking mechilah from all of the people that were harmed. However, it is not your place - nor mine - to decide that a molester is any less "teshuvable" than any other person. There may be the same problem as one who says lashon hara (you probably know the famous analogy of the feather pillow), but we cannot decide who has the possibility of Teshuva and who doesn't - there's a One above who makes that decision.


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152.     12/7/09 - 10:30 PM
Anonymous

dear dear 150, I, for one found this conversation about teshuvah quite helpful and comforting, because I recently needed to reevaluate my perpetrator's so called claim to teshuvah, in order to continue my own healing.

I haven't pressed changes, simply because it is way too difficult for me to do that to my father, and ruin my family's reputation. When I confronted my father he admitted to me that he did theses things, and supposedly went to pieces because of it. He on his own offered us quite a huge sum to help pay for therapy, and separately offered my husband some more money because of my husband's suffering from me being abused. Yet at the same time my father told my therapist that he only abused me because he realized I needed his extra love.

It took some time and work on my part to realize that this is all full of baloney, like my father could never afford to reimburse me for all the money I spend for therapy, and that would only be a minimum start in his teshuvah process.

I do believe teshuvah is possible but very very improbable because of the huge huge huge spiritual and financial debt the perpetrator incurred with each victim. It is not for nothing that Gili Araos i.e. immorality is one of the three cardinal sins we are commanded to die rather than transgress. Thus teshuvah, while I believe possible, is very very very very difficult and extremely demanding, thus highly improbable.

I appreciated this conversation a lot over here, because it helped me to see that others too believe that these tears and claims about regret are only skin deep, and don't really penetrate the core. Ironically, I feel if my father did get a long jail sentence, which I believe he deserves, then maybe maybe he would then be able to start doing teshuvah, because at least in jail he would be able to see himself objectively for who he really is, a lowly criminal, not a Talmud Chacham and a pious Yid, which is who he now believes he is and portrays himself to be. and from that place of truth, perhaps he would be able to start truly evaluating his life. So please do understand 150, whereas according to our religion we do believe in teshuvah, yet it is by far no simple thing to do. And realize that should your perpetrator wish to do teshuvah it would be his job to somehow convince you to forgive him, and not your job to jump at the opportunity to forgive him. I feel that this is an area where we in the frum community have gone quite off, where for the sake of everything looking good again we put way more emphasis on the victim to forgive, then on the perpetrator to ask for forgiveness.

The following is a letter I wrote to Hamodia following a story they wrote during Aseres Yemai Tehuvah, where a woman refused to press changes or even confront a frum boy who stole from her, and she really pats herself on the shoulder for letting him go, as if she is sure that this was the right course of action. Unfortunately it didn't get printed, but I though others here might appreciate it. It made me really mad to see that most stuff that I read in the Mishpacha or Hamodia about teshuvah was about forgiving each other, rather than also speaking about the need to ask, rather beg for forgiveness. After all, this is the exact line my family members who know my story keep telling me again and again, "Yidden believe in forgiving, you should forgive."

Well who should I forgive, a father who claims he is sorry yet justifies the abuse because he needed to show me love? I'll spare you the details of my story by not going into the obvious question like where was his love when.......????????

Anyway, here is the letter; enjoy

"Thief” by E.G. Sorsher; the other side of the story As I was reading this story in your Shabbos Shuva Magazine I noticed myself desperately rooting for a different ending; an ending in which Ella does take some steps in rebuking and perhaps even punishing Yossi Mayerstien, and getting her money back. While I understand that this write-up was based on a true story, (thus the author sort of had to go with the ending that truly did happen,) I still feel that by printing this story Hamodia choose to take the position that the high road here was for Ella to refrain from pressing charges, and this is something I cannot agree with. Although we might say that Ella was a . . . by choosing not to press charges even though she halachickly was permitted to do so, however our also obligates us to have a system of law enforcement in our communities, so that we discourage criminal acts.

Unfortunately, for so many years now we have chosen to exalt and applaud the Ella’s of our communities, while we have woefully overlooked and refused to acknowledge and deal with our big negative and shameful issues. Thus we pretend to ourselves and the world that Jewish boys don’t steal, Jewish boys don’t do drugs, Jews don’t molest, Jews don’t gamble, spouse abuse doesn’t exist in Jewish communities, etc. The thinking seems to go something like this: “All we need to do is hide the problems so that he can do a shidduch with a nice girl, let them start a family, and then all will be fine and dandy.”

Furthermore, the fact that Yossi Mayerstein ends up marring and having a family is no indication that his problems haven’t grown along with him and intensified. Who knows how many other people he has deeply wronged over the years, including his wife and children.

And where has this approach really gotten us? I do feel that stories such as these, that praise the victim for looking the other way, actually encourage perpetrators in our communities. If Ella was uncomfortable pressing charges against her perpetrator and landing him in jail, at least she should have found within the community some other means of rebuking and punishing him, and forcing him to deal with the consequences of his actions, thus hopefully discouraging him from ever turning to crime again.


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153. response to t/c #143     12/7/09 - 10:48 PM
Anonymous

I come from a very chassiidishe family, thus I had no idea what arayos was while I was being abused. As a matter of fact my mother was extremely vigilant that I come in contact with absolutely nothing that might make me start thinking about the facts of life, to the point that she forbade me to listen to some prominent Rabbis on tape because they would speak against gay rights, and she didn't even want to expose me to those words, while her husband was actually molesting me.

I have no way of knowing how things would have been different had I known what was truly happening, yet I still wish I had this information at the time.


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154. Spotting Fake Tshuvah: A response to Benzion Twerski (#146)     12/7/09 - 11:35 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin FrumFollies - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Rabbi Twerski,

I agree that sincere repenters can relapse (BTW, my spellcheck is trying to change repenters to repeaters!).

I appreciate your observation that the ongoing risk of relapse is a reason to require controls on contacts with children, even in those rare cases where we are convinced of repentance.

I agree with your observation that some molesters are great at feigning repentance. As the old Hollywood saying goes "The most important thing is sincerity. Once you can fake that, everything else is easy."

However we should at least be alert to the obvious fakers. I believe I laid out the exemplars. They include: "it was a misunderstanding," attacks on the sanity or religiosity of the accusers, an unwillingness to forthrightly and directly beg mechilah from victims, appeals for rachmonis on themselves and their families without comparable concern for the consequences of their conduct on victims, and an unwillingness to accept any real consequences for their action."

I would also add on that the enablers of molesters tend to exhibit many of these same characteristics when they defend them.

Rabbi Twerski, I think you could provide a great public service if you, or you and Rabbi Horowitz were to write an article on the manifestations of these pretenses as well as a list of caution to keep in mind when the the claim of teshuvah is brandished to ward off reporting and other sanctions.


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155.     12/8/09 - 12:00 PM
Anonymous

message to #142 “HELP- please” about turning in a molester father

I am embarrassed to admit I dodged your question when I saw it yesterday. I was hoping someone else would answer. But it is still unanswered. So here is my best effort.

Just to clarify for readers, #142" HELP-please" you have a friend, a young woman who was molested by her father. There are younger children in the house and you are worried about their vulnerability to molesting. Your friend is in the process of seeking a shidduch.

Your question seems to be, should you report the father even if your friend does not want it because it will hurt her shidduch prospects. I am also assuming your friend herself is safe from further molesting. Finally, I am assuming that you have a well-founded basis for your statement that the father molested your friend.

I would say that you have an obligation to the children in the house and other children to ensure that they are protected from molesting. Reporting the allegations to Child Protective Services is the best way to protect them. Even if your friend is willing to forgo a complaint, she has no right to sacrifice her siblings to a very dangerous man. Of course she has a shidduch interest, but she has no right to advance it at the expense of her siblings. Put more strongly, how can a bayis neehman be built on a betrayal of her siblings?

Of course the best outcome is having your friend make the report to child protective services and filing a criminal complaint. Of course it will be excruciating if you make the report and your friend turns on you and it does indeed hurt her marriage prospects. But the difficulty of this situation was not of your making. The father generated the danger by his actions. The communal practice of covering things up and hiding behind a false version of the halachos of lashon harah has made this situation more difficult to fix.

However, the summons "kadoshim tihiyu" never came with a qualifier that it only applies when it is easy. We are talking giluy arayos, one the three sins that requires a willingness to sacrifice our lives. It is at the very core of kedushah. Ultimately this is a painful but simple question. On your final day of judgment do you want to say, "nobody criticized, me, my friend got a shidduch and we are still close" or do you want to say "I was true to the call of the Torah and I did my best to protect those children from being violated?"

You deserve a lot of credit for posing this question. Your courage in asking this question makes me think you will arrive at the right choice. There is nothing wrong with being afraid of those who will be angry with you. It just proves you have seichel. On the battlefield, only fools are fearless. Brave soldiers live with their fear but fight. If you are motivated by kedushah and concern for the safety of the children I am sure you will find the means and courage to act on your concerns.

Naturally you should seek support, especially after you make the report. But beware of false friends who try to sap your confidence and pressure you to reverse your report.

I have to admit that I have been lucky enough to not have to face so difficult a decision. However, I did once serve on a board where I participated in a decision to remove a popular but dangerous director. There were months of machlokes, hostile looks, nasty rumors and regular verbal assaults. I endured board meetings where supporters of the problematic director accused me and others of stealing, lying, and ruining lives. I even had to talk to my child about the nasty rumors. Thank G-d, my child is now independent. My child has grown into a real menshch who understands that erlichkeit isn’t always popular.

Even those who knew about the problems with the director told us we were being impractical and the organization needed this director to survive. They were wrong. The organization slowly healed and is now doing better than ever.

When I made the decision I expected to lose some dear friends and I did. It was hard, but I would do it again. Actually, in the same situation I would move faster. I now realize that the pain was unavoidable, but prolonging the process made it worse.

Please don't hesitate or delay. This seems like a genuine situation of pikuach nefesh. One can only wonder if one report or phone call would have made the difference for some of the unfortunate victims of molesting who committed suicide. You may be one of the fortunate few with the zchus of actually saving a life.

Since it seems like your friend is unwilling to report, I would bite the bullet and do the reporting. Once it is done your friend may even be relieved and come around. In the end an enduring shidduch would require her sharing this information with her eventual husband. This may have the added benefit of allowing her to start married life with a bond rooted in honesty, however painful. Could a marriage succeed with a man who is unwilling to cope with these facts? For that matter, can marriage succeed if she lived constantly knowing she was deceiving her husband? I have heard heartrending stories of women who finally told their shidduchim the truth. There are good guys out there. If she finds one of those, sharing the truth will become an important part of her healing experience. Of course, therapy for all the affected parties is important. But therapy alone will not protect those children.

I hope my advice helps. I am sure you will find support from many of us who participate in this thread. You might also benefit from visiting the message board maintained by little sheffele, a brave young woman whose story was printed in yated neeman. Please feel free to email me if you feel it would be helpful.

Yerachmiel Lopin


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156. To #142     12/8/09 - 3:22 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D. - lipnera@gmail.com

I ditto the sentiments of Yerachmiel Lopin. This is a nisayon that I would never want to be in, but there is a clear obligation to report.

What could make it helpful is if you contact the Jewish Board of Advocacy for Children, or the NY retgional CASA (Coalition Against Sexual Assault). Having professionals make the report helps them take it seriously, helps support you through the process, and also helps retain your anonymity (although CPS must keep your report anonymous anyway, your friend might suspect you, and if you want it to be a secret you can honestly say that others did it).

JBAC was founded by myself, Elliot Passik and Sherree Belsky, who met eachother right here on Rabbi Horowit'z website. We have on our executive committee mental health professionals, lawyers and mechanchim, and we have a Rabbinical board with Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Marc Dratch (founder of JSAFE)and others.

As for shidduchim for your friend, although it is not something to be proud of if her father is a molester, history has shown that after time, counterintuitively, children of molesters actually receive much more compassion, sympathy and understanding in our community than whistleblowers, and advocates for children's safety. So I empathize with your friend's shidduch problems, but I agree with Yerachmiel that safety for her brothers and sisters comes first.

Offhand I can think of five women I know who were faced with similar dilemmas as the one your friend is in: namely that they were concerned about hurting the family by reporting, but were also frightened of further abuse. Four of them are members of the website allussheffelech.proboards.com, that Yerachmiel mentioned. There is also a sister site for friends and family of survivors of abuse.

If you would want to be in touch with one of them please let me know.

Asher


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157. Reporting Abusive Family Members     12/8/09 - 4:25 PM
Yakov Horowitz - Monsey NY

Sadly, this question has come before me more than once or twice over the years.

I concur with Asher and Yerachmiel that reporting the abuser to the authorities must be done to save future (and probably current) victims.

Truth be told, it is advice that is often not heeded.

For the record, as I have written and publicly stated (most recently this past friday night in NYC) on many occasions, I asked one of our leading gedolim for guidance over ten years ago when we got our first case of this nature. His clear p'sak was the we must report to police if children are in danger.

YH


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158. Professional help isn't enough.     12/8/09 - 4:27 PM
me - Brooklyn NY

So what if we get professional help... But the person that hurt us is still out there hurting other people. The person I have in mind molested me more than 15 years ago. I am still not married and in my 30's.

Yes of course I want to move on. And yes I've had professional help.....

But does that really solve the problem of this person who is continuing to molest children.

Yes I've told the Chachamim. That was about 14 years ago so I suppose maybe things have changed. I don't know who to turn to now.

If people really care then why am I still stuck in this nightmare knowing precious yiddishe children are being hurt?

I don't understand.


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159. Individual Healing and Communal Repentence: A Reply to #158, "Me, Brooklyn"     12/8/09 - 10:12 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

I think you make a very good point. Individual therapy is difficult when you live with the knowledge that the community as a whole has not gone very far in actively dealing with molesters by making sure they are stopped through the criminal justice system.

It is hard enough to heal when you know the offenders have been dealt with. But with too little talk, and even much less action, you are left feeling dubious about some of the assurances of concern.

I agree with the other advocates for strong response that such activism isn't just a preventive measure. It is also something that helps the very difficult process of healing.

If it is of any help there are some of us who are working hard to change things and our ranks are growing.

I wish I could say that I am optimistic that we will witness a dramatic turnaround soon. But I do know which way things are moving. I just wish the obstruct ors and laggards would realize that they are harming the community and their own credibility. But I do believe the time will come when they will be embarrassed to admit how they were part of the problem.

In the meantime be matzliach in whatever path you choose for yourself and know that you are not alone in your passion for a real tikkun.


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160. Back to the topic at hand...     12/9/09 - 1:54 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D. - lipnera@gmail.com

What drives survivors of sexual abuse to give up hope?

Our community was recently shocked by the news of a recent suicide of a survivor of sexual abuse. Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz, and Dr. Benzion Twerski, Ph.D. published a response to the tragedy in the Jewish Press, in which they took the opportunity to sound a call to survivors of abuse to please reach out and get professional help.

As someone who has survived rabbinic sexual abuse, and who has been both a consumer and a professional provider of psychotherapy, I can vouch that it is certainly a good idea to find a therapist who specializes in sexual trauma, who can offer understanding and support. However, as a communal response this approach dangerously oversimplifies the issue of what Dr. David Pelcovitz has called the “unconscionable number of suicides in our community caused by sexual abuse.” Allow me to explain.

Suicide is driven largely by a deep sense of hopelessness, in which an individual feels things will never get better. I have treated and am treating many survivors who experience different levels of suicidality, from ideation and planning, to actual attempts, R”L. They have all expressed a feeling of hopelessness that can overwhelm them at times. While I personally have never considered taking my life, I can fully relate to the profound sense of hopelessness felt by survivors trying to heal in our community.

You see, the first step of psychotherapy focusing on trauma is making sure that the patient is in a safe place, not being re-victimized during the course of the treatment. You cannot effectively heal a shell-shocked soldier still on the battlefield, or a Holocaust survivor still in a concentration camp, or a battered woman who is still in an abusive marriage, or a terror victim who is still living with rockets daily raining down on her neighborhood.

As long as our community continues to be an unsafe place for children and others seeking safety from sexual assault, there is an inherent limitation on what “professionals” can accomplish with therapy. Furthermore, to imply that “lack of therapy” is the cause of survivors becoming suicidal, is like saying that the cause of headaches is a deficiency of aspirin in the blood stream. And putting the onus for their healing squarely on the shoulders of the survivors is one more example of “blaming the victim.” It is just like when mental health “abuse experts” educate parents to tell their children the difference between “good touch and bad touch”, but neglect to give parents instructions on how they, as the adults responsible for their children’s safety, can rid their children’s environment of molesters (i.e. report all allegations to the authorities, and do not send your children to a camp or school that does not have good safety policies or that covers up abuse).

In order for us to really give the survivors safety and hope, we as a community must take serious action to stop the abuse. Until that happens, we cannot “call on the survivors to seek professional help” and then wash our hands and say “Yadeynu Lo Shafchu Es Hadam Hazeh – Our hands have not spilled this blood.”

Whenever there is an arrest of a prominent community figure who is a child molester, Jewish or otherwise, many victims come forward to go for therapy for the first time. Why? Because until the publicity of an arrest, they live in fear that nobody will believe them about their abuser. In our community this fear is justified. Consider the frum psychologist a chronically suicidal patient of mine first went to. When she told him that she had been sexually abused by a prominent rabbi, the therapist refused to believe her because “rabbis don’t act that way.” Even when he was forced to accept her account, the psychologist still did not want it publicized due to “Chillul Hashem.”

There are simply not enough outlets for survivors to be heard and validated in our community. One survivor became suicidal after his letter to the editor of a frum newspaper, describing the anguish of sexual abuse, was summarily rejected. A patient of mine who unsuccessfully attempted suicide told me that he felt killing himself was the only way to get heard in our community. I wonder if this was how Motty felt...

In our community, abuse victims know that their stories are not wanted and will be denied or silenced. A teenage Chassidish patient of mine, who went innocently for help to “The Rebbe” of his community, was turned away and became profoundly and dangerously suicidal, because “Why should I live if nobody believes me?” I wonder who didn't believe Motty Borger?

Well meaning friends and family of the victim often stand in the way of healing as well. Sometimes they are concerned for the victim’s own reputation, since the stigma of being a survivor is so debilitating in our community. Other times loved ones, in the ultimate act of betrayal, have more compassion and concern for the molester and his family’s reputation or the reputation of the institution that harbored the molester, than for the victim’s need for validation and communal acceptance and support. One of the bravest people I know had several psychiatric hospitalizations after her family refused to take her side against a family member who molested her for years. She has found healing with a therapist from outside our community, but continues to struggle trying to find her zivug, with shadchanim who still consider her “damaged goods”.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms such as suicide, can also be triggered when victims see institutions that have knowingly employed molesters thriving and expanding, while those who speak up for the survivors are vilified and shamed. The horrifying truth, recently acknowledged in a Yated Ne’eman editorial, is that our community allows molesters to remain in positions of honor and access to children. One man I knew who eventually took his own life, was tortured by the fact that his molester (an older bochur in yeshiva) had become a respected rabbi with all of the trust of the parents in his shul. Another survivor who attempted suicide was quoted that every time he sees his rapist getting another position teaching children, he feels raped again. The fact that this survivor has reached out to leading rabbis for a meeting and was turned down, has only added to his terrible feelings of loneliness and hopelessness, bringing back suicidal thoughts. Virtually all survivors I know feel that the intensity of the pain of being silenced by their community is worse than that of the sexual abuse itself. Many survivors feel that healing is hopeless within our community, which is why so many abandon Orthodox Judaism.

Even when a molester is apprehended, our entire community comes to his defense and attacks the victim. One survivor I know who did press charges against his molester is clinically depressed, not because of the abuse, but because the entire community is backing his molester despite incontrovertible evidence of the abuser’s guilt. In Lakewood , a Rabbi was arrested for sexual abuse, and there is a communal campaign to put pressure on the parents of the victim to drop the charges. A Boro Park mother of several children who were molested was told by her children’s Cheder that if she pressed charges against the molester who was “connected, to a Rebbe” her children would be thrown out “on the street.” A Bobover family was literally chased out of the community for daring to report their child’s abuse to the police. The same has happened in Baltimore . In Monsey, the parents of two different children were convinced to “recant” their stories about abuse by a teacher who has been molesting children for years.

One very frum survivor of sexual abuse was hospitalized for weeks due to suicide risk. This occurred shortly after we participated in a lobbying trip together in Albany for the Child Victims Act (the Markey Bill.) On the way home we heard that some leading rabbis had come out in opposition to the bill because of their concern for yeshivas that are guilty of knowingly covering up for molesters being sued. The news of this betrayal by our leaders left all survivors of abuse struggling with despair and “yiush.” In fact, Agudah apologists have told me that their recent convention did not address solutions to the issue of abuse because the Roshei Yeshivah themselves have given up on finding solutions. Talk about hopelessness! Irresponsibly neglecting to talk about the issue of abuse is tantamount to communal suicide. While hiding our heads in the sand stops us from seeing the problems around us, unlike for ostriches, with us it also cuts off access to oxygen. So who exactly is it who needs the professional help?

Before I began to publicize the name of my own molester, I was told by a Rov I know that although it is in principle a Chiyuv to reveal his identity, in our community I should keep quiet, because speaking up is “like committing suicide.” Can you imagine what message this would give to a survivor, like Motty Borger, who is already contemplating suicide? Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless, hopeless…

Why I feel that there really is hope

Chanukah is fast approaching. If ever there was a season for hope, this is it. The miraculous story of victory against all odds, with G-d’s help, must inspire survivors in need of salvation. While we all know of the Jewish people’s war against the Greeks, we need to remember that the true existential threat came from inside; from a civil war between the Jewish elitist establishment who had lost their way due to the false gods of greed, lust and power, and a few sincere caring Jews who rallied behind the cry of “Mee LaHashem Aylai! - Whoever is for G-d, come with me!”

We are few (me’atim), but the revolution is growing. Like in the Chanukah victory, we will need to battle those of the powers that be in our community who choose to pursue power, image and financial security for their institutions, making the mistake decried by all of our Neviim - neglecting the most vulnerable and the most in need of protection and support.

But Chanukah teaches us that a little bit of light can push off a lot of darkness. A small group of people banding together with courage and faith can merit Hashem’s miraculous salvation for themselves, for all the survivors of abuse still among us, and for all of Klal Yisroel. We must continue to unite against tyranny and to reach out to survivors to tell them we want to hear their stories, that we believe them and that we care and we want to give them back their hope. “Even if a sharp sword is placed on your neck, never give up on Hashem showing mercy.” (Gemorah, Brachos) With G-d’s help there is still hope. There is always hope.

A Freilichin Chanukah.


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161. Teshuva again; and justice.     12/9/09 - 5:34 AM
Yoel B

Regarding teshuva: Suppose an accountant was found to have systematically embezzled money from many clients over many years. And suppose again that this individual expressed remorse, and even reimbursed his victims for a percentage of their losses. If you were personally convinced of his sincerity, would you entrust your personal finances to him? The embezzler may have the duty to put his knowledge to use in bettering the world, but he does not have the right to get his hands on other peoples' money, nor do others have the duty to put their money in his hands, maybe not even the right to do so if they are managing others' money. Would you entrust the finances of your corporation, your shul, or the gemach you run that feeds the hungry, to such an individual, especially if you didn't have the personal wealth to pay everyone back if it were to happen that you were been mistaken when you believed in the teshuva?

Regarding revenge: I have seen it written that the critical step in the rise of civilization is the forgoing of private revenge for a murdered relative and placing vengeance in the hands of the authorities, whoever they might be in that time and place. This then is extended to injuries, theft, and breach of contract, etc. In return, the authorities must carry out justice, including exacting punishment under the law. If they fail to do so they are undermining the very covenant on which civilization, and of course their authority, are based.


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162. Teshuvah and Molestation     12/9/09 - 12:05 PM
vicki Polin - MD - vickipolin@aol.com

I want to apologies for my late response. I've been swamped and haven't had time to keep up with this blog.

To 145 Gregaaron, I'm sorry you feel that way regarding statistics and Teshuvah. How many times does an alcoholic say he or she won't drink and drive again and they are so sorry that they caused a car accident. I'm sure at the moment of their apology they are sincere, yet it doesn't change the fact that the odds are they are going drive under the influence again, even if their drivers license is suspended. This is very similar to molesters.


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163. To #162 Vicki     12/9/09 - 9:54 PM
Gregaaron

The Torah concept of Teshuvah is not confined to the borders of statistics. As I mentioned in that post, I agree that there is no reason to allow former molesters around children - we are not looking to put them into a situation where it is possible lavo l'ydei takalah (to mess up). But as frum people, we believe that there is a concept of complete Teshuvah, and we don't have the right to decide whether someone has truly repented or not. It's not our place to judge that - there's Someone above who takes care of it.

I understand that we are on very different planes hashkafically, but I think that as someone who believes in (and tries to follow) the Torah way of life, we don't have the power to reject someone else's Teshuvah.


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164.     12/9/09 - 11:38 PM
Anonymous

163. Gregaaron, I'm a bit confused by your last posting. Are you saying that if you knew someone had a drinking problem, and was drunk, that you would let him drive your car because he said he did Teshuvah?


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165. gregaron 163     12/9/09 - 11:44 PM
Anonymous

Unless i am the victim,what does teshuvah for the molestation of another human being have to do with me? Only the victim can decide to forgive, and only Hashem can evaluate the degree to which teshuvah has been achieved. This is not about whether or not we uphold the concept of teshuvah which of course we do, it's just about the COMPLETE irrelevancy of teshuvah to any dialogue about dealing with this on a communal level.

If you are the molester's Rav or even therapist, by all means, talk to him about teshuvah, but to everyone else the topic is neither helpful nor concrete.


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166. What?     12/10/09 - 12:51 AM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

When a rebbe in a yeshiva in Brooklyn was discovered to be molesting children for many years, a "Choshuv" Rov said that although scientific statistics say that he cannot be cured, we believe in Teshuvah not science.

However, Gregaaron, every Cheder yingle knows that bein adam lchaveiro, you can only do Teshuva if you get mechila from your victims. This rebbe refused till this day, even after being convicted in a court of law and thrown out of his yeshivah, to admit to his crimes let alone apologize.

This shows that the Chashuv Rov was not talking from a position of Torah or yiddishkeit, but from a position of denial. It is painful to think that a rebbe could be a danger to the life of a child, but it is the truth.

As soon as we all admit to this scientific fact, then we will no longer be busy with the issue of Tshuvah.

Gregaaron, do you know anybody who molested children who DID apologize sincerely? And was "Mefayes" the victims to get their mechila?

This is not a question of science but rather basic elementary hilchos Teshuvah.


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167. Asher     12/10/09 - 2:37 PM
Gregaaron

Yes, this is a question of hilchos Teshuvah. You are 100% right that he cannot get complete forgiveness until the victim is mochel him. But what I am objecting to is the fact that we have people here (and I do not mean you) who are deciding for themselves whether or not some people are even in the parsha of being able to ever do Teshuvah. Who made them the judges to decide? How about those who don't know hilchos Teshuvah, or don't follow hilchos anything, not get up and say that a person cannot ever be forgiven?

To #164: No, we should not let the drunk person drive (even if he never had a drinking problem). But we also should stop trying to play G-d and deciding that his Teshuvah isn't real. We have many jobs on this world; that isn't one of them.


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168. Are we still discussing teshuvah?     12/10/09 - 3:28 PM
Benzion Twerski

We are still discussing teshuvah, and I’m perplexed why. No human, dayan or otherwise can possibly base a conclusion that judges someone else’s teshuvah. We cannot know whether it is good, or not good. We are not privy to knowing this at all. We recite the Ani Maamin that only HKB”H knows thoughts of people. Yes, there have been tzaddikim who were sometimes able to reach beyond the natural boundaries of nature and access such information.

Only a true bakoshas mechila from a victim can render teshuvah possible. Is the perpetrator ready for this, and is the victim prepared to grant a mechila gemura? Can we assess this?

I’m not denying the merits of teshuvah. I still believe that the question is not relevant to us as we have no capacity of determining anything of value about it.


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169. I still say Tshuva is VERY relevant     12/10/09 - 7:54 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

The concpet of Tshuvah in a false format is one of the most often used excuses as to why our community does not hold molesters accountable for their actions.

In my case, I and other survivors of my molester, were told by a Rosh Yeshivah, that not only has the molester done Tshuvah (although he never asked us mechilla) but that those of us who want to hold him accountable are being more abusive than he ever was.

I suppose if he has done tshuvah then it might be true that we should not confront him with his sin anymore.

So I believe that from Jewish perspective, the need to confront the molester is part of the Mitzvah of Tochacha and the purpose is to make him do Tshuvah.

The agony of molestation victims stems in large part from the fact that the molester never fesses up, that society allows him to get away with it. No need to make ammends.

Reb Benzion, when people have spoken here about taking the molester to court or having him incarcerated by the police, you have said "there is no value in revenge". Now when we talk about giving mussar and demanding restitution and bakashas mechiila and azivas hachet, you say it is irrelevant.

My question is, is ther any possible way that IS relevant to confront a molester that you can think of? Or should we just send the victims to therapy and allow the molesters to keep sinning?

Again, please keep in mind that #1) the act of molestation is often not as traumatic as the betrayal of the relationship (as the molester is often a trusted adult) and #2) that the lack of social insistence on the molester being held accountable and made to stand trial is the reason that Shchem's whole city was killed out.

And for basic Tshuvah it is totally possible to see it without being Hashem. There are halachos of how a Rasha can get his "Chezkas Kashrus" back.

While of course only G-d knows the Nistaros, but we all see the Niglos. So please, let's stop talking about what Gregaaron and you keep referring to as that which is not "byadeynu" and please let's start having the courage to change the things we can. Namely, we can insist that molesters admit to their crimes, pay restitution, beg mechila and stop doing it, (with professional help.)

These are the actual real life criterion that the Awareness Center uses. And no, Vicki Polin does not claim to be G-d, (although she is clearly a shaliach). If a known molester does the above mentioned acts, and there are a few who have, they can be removed from the registry of people that need to be watched out for.

Or we could keep going with the approach used here at this site, which is that we don't name names of molesters so there is nobody to watch out for to begin with.

Like the Yated Neeman and everyone has already admitted "thousands of kids in our community have been sexually abused." By whom? By nobody. Anyone listed on the Awareness Center doesn't count. We cannot utter their names, and we must either assume they did Tshuvah already or that Tshuvah is irrelevant.

Please, when will we as the "healthy" members of our community start standing up to those who take sexual advantage of our children?

I am truly perplexed by how we can all admit this is going on, and yet we do nothing to stop it...

When we were in denial it was almost better from a moral perspective. We could not stop what we did not want to admit was going on. But now that we know, now that it is Niglah, what is our excuse? How are we not complicit? In what way are we not being P'oshea in our Shmirah of the Pikadon that Hashem has given us? Vos Vet Zein Mit de Kinder????


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170. Sweeping it under the teshuva carpet     12/10/09 - 8:51 PM
Molested in Monsey

Gregaaron: I would like to know how long one would need to wait to give a molester time to do teshuva. At what point does the individual or tzibbur go after the rodef and take him down? What is the obligation of the person who was molested to the tzibbur? How long must the victim wait for his molester to do teshuva before doing him in? Would you agree that an integral part of teshuva is asking a victim for mechila and making restitution? Do you believe that your molester has done teshuva even without asking mechila? My answer is to not think for a millionth of a second that he has. He will deny he ever did anything right to your face. I don't know the extent of your abuse but I know that that he is the lowest of the lowest menuval that exists. He also was a first grade rebbe. He also did not limit himself to first graders. He indulged himself sexually however he was able to. Nothing was off limits. He can never and will never ask for mechila and therefore can never do teshuva. He is a truly sick man who has been at it for at least 40 years. How many victims does he have? How many more will there be? He lives a stones throw from a park in one direction and a mikva in the other direction. How much sweeter can his setup be? Still willing to trust that he did teshuva? Teshuva consists of concrete actions that demonstrate the remorse that a person has. It has been 25 years for me and I have seen no teshuva. I have seen the opposite. I have seen the continuation of his activities which included you as well. There will be a judgment day for this piece of human garbage. It will start here on this world. There will be no more freedom for him to abuse again.


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171. To Molested in Monsey #170     12/11/09 - 2:33 AM
Gregaaron

Again (and for the last time), I am only objecting to those who say that there is no such thing as Teshuvah for a molester. Yes, keep him away from kids. Yes, beware of him. Just don't say that Teshuvah doesn't exist.

End of Teshuvah conversation, at least from me.


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172.     12/11/09 - 8:28 AM
Anonymous

Reb Asher:

You stated that "Now when we talk about giving mussar and demanding restitution and bakashas mechiila and azivas hachet, you say it is irrelevant."

I deny this completely. I have no issue with tochacha, restitution, or bakoshas mechila. My only statement is that we can never accept a claim that teshuvah has been done since we cannot trust this, and it not in the hands of a basar vodom to know anything about it. I assume that a molester has not done teshuvah, which is all that is acceptable in dinei odom.

Rebuke is in order, but this will undoubtedly result in denial and various forms of rationalization. That does not negate the obligation of tochacha; I just do not see it helping much. Restitution is part of the basic obligations of odom hamazik, and the costs of treatment of the victim are the chiyuv of ripuy. Bakoshas mechila is likewise a chiyuv. Yom Kippur is not mechaper without this.

However, forgiveness is a process, not a one-time event. Both the perp and the victim need to be prepared for this. As I described in an earlier comment, the perp who talks of his own guilt and negative consequences as part of his bakoshas mechila is essentially re-victimizing, by putting the focus on his own benefit, not the victim. Often, the victim is too damaged to forgive. This bakoshas mechila is unwise. If both parties are ready, that is wonderful.

I have no issue with confronting molesters, prosecuting them, and removing them from the community. I am not counted among the defenders.

Have a great Shabbos and a freilichen Chanukah.


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173. Joey's important point     12/11/09 - 3:17 PM
Asher Lipner, Ph.D.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and assume that the Rov he referred to is not a molester.

However, it is the ones who harbor for molesters, the ones who try to silence and intimidate victims, the ones who show zero compassion but only "achzarius"- cruelty to survivors, who truly need to do Teshuvah in our community.

As I posted above, I will say again, that ALL of us need to do Teshuvah for living silently in a community that allows this to go on.

We all know the names of the molesters. They are posted on The Awareness Center. Yet, as the Yated Neeman has written ("the new Daas Torah" until it gets banned one day too) we allow this.

No tochacha. No confrontation. Yeshivas caught covering up for molesters are given new "branches" in Lakewood.

A freilichin Chanukah. We surely need a miracle on the scope of the Yeshuah the Yidden had. Then also, we were our own worst enemy. Much worse than the Greeks were the Helenist Jews, who only wanted power, money, and tayvah. Many of them were in positions of power. And it took serious action against them to bring Hashem's rachmonus to us.

If Matisyahu killed a Jewish leader for eating chazer in public, what would he have done to someone molesting a Jewish child or to someone publicly defending him?

Hopefully, this conversation will inspire ALL of us to the mesiras nefesh necessary to be zoche to such a victory and we will have a Chanukah miracle in our times.


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174. Forgiveness and Teshuva     12/13/09 - 6:40 PM
Anonymous

The act of forgiveness is liberating for the victim not for the abuser. The abuser does not care how he effects his victims, he cares only about satisfying his own needs. The need to forgive and move on is strictly one that is only faced by someone who has been hurt or abused. Forgiveness is a choice but a choice that is not easy to come by. It all depends on the degree of the pain imposed and who the perpetrator was.

For instance if someone was insulted by a stranger it is much easier to forgive them and move on from the incident than if someone was hurt or insulted by someone in their quality world, meaning someone important to them, someone that they really care about and have a meaningful relationship with. If someone is hurt by someone they care about a sincere apology will bring forgiveness and closure much sooner and both parties, most especially the injured party can put it behind them and move on.

When a person is hurt physically, it is more difficult to forgive and move on, but still easier to forgive a stranger than someone they know or in their quality world. However, as mentioned above a sincere apology or as discussed earlier someone who asks mechila and does real teshuva brings about forgiveness and closure much quicker.

Now if we move even further along in this discussion to a person who was hurt both physically and emotionally, it is so much harder for that person to get to the level of "choosing" to forgive. The pain goes so much deeper and encompasses that person's whole sense of being. But once again they can certainly get to a level of forgiveness sooner when the person that hurt them was a stranger than if the person that hurt them was someone they knew or worse someone they loved, respected and trusted, someone in their quality world. Choosing to forgive is so necessary to be able to free oneself of the constant sense of hatred and betrayal which feeds the depressive state and causes one to relive the pain, basically keeping the victim in a prison of pain. However it is very difficult to get to that level where one can choose to let go and forgive. How can we help a victim liberate themselves from this prison of pain? By offering them a sincere apology, true teshuva. It is impossible to heal from this kind of trauma, it is impossible to forgive this kind of assault, it is impossible to move forward from this kind of abuse without it.

Claiming that one has done teshuva privately without asking mechila from his victims is worthless. It doesn't mean anything, it accomplishes nothing and it doesn't heal any of the pain that the person caused in the first place. It is a selfish means of making oneself feel better if in fact they are speaking any kind of truth at all. In order for a person to do real teshuva they must ask mechilah from their victims so that those they have harmed have the opportunity to forgive and free themselves from their own prison of pain. If a victim is not ready to forgive then the perp should be understanding of that since they cannot control that, they can only control the true sincerity of their request for mechilah.


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175. Where are the female frum survivors of sex crimes?     12/13/09 - 7:27 PM
Vicki Polin - MD - vickipolin@aol.com

It's been very interesting working in the orthodox world for the last 10 years. It's been educational for me to read the comments on this blog, yet I have a question for everyone. Where are the female survivors from the frum world? Why is it that they are so silent? According to statistics, the majority of those who have been sexually victimized as both children and adults are women, yet in the orthodox world it's only the men who are stepping forward.

We all hear about the numbers of boys who are molested in mikvah's and at yeshivas, yet we aren't hearing from those who were abused at home, by choir leaders, scout leaders, babysitters, doctors, therapists, etc.

It's only something like 2 - 5% of all cases of child molestation in which the offender is a member of the clergy.

What can we all do to encourage the other types of survivors and women to come forward and have a voice?


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176. You Do NOT Need To Forgive To Heal!     12/13/09 - 11:59 PM
Vicki Polin - MD - vickipolin@aol.com

174 Anonymous, The act of having choice is liberating for those who are survivors of molestation. This includes having choice if and when they choose to forgive. Putting pressure on someone who was victimized by saying they need to forgive their offender to heal, would be untrue and inappropriate. Many survivors may choose not to forgive their perpetrator -- and feel empowered knowing they have the right not to.

It's true that some survivors may find forgiving healing, yet from my experience it's usually those survivors who have received some form of restitution from their offender(s). A lot of survivors want their offenders to be held accountable for their actions and once they are, they find it easier to move on.


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177. forgiveness and Teshuva     12/14/09 - 10:28 PM
Anonymous

Vicki, I don't believe you understood the context of my comment. We were talking about forgiveness in the context of teshuva.

Forgiveness is liberating, and as I said it is relative to the type and degree of pain and to who caused the pain. Within those parameters the ability to reach that level of choice is also dependent on the abuser's accountability vis a vis, admittance, acceptance, offering a sincere apology and/or reparation, etc. which can all be considered a form of true teshuva.


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178. RE: #175     12/14/09 - 11:24 PM
T/C

The reason the girls are not coming forth are because, in the frum world the majority of the females are abused by family, fathers, uncles, brothers etc..

It is much more of a complicated topic to broach, when this touches family. The anger is the same, however it is easier to come out OPENLY about an outsider that you have total hatred for, vs. a family member.

There are plenty of boys who are molested by relatives as well, and we don't hear from them either.

B"H because of our girls' school system, the abuse level in the female schools and camps are much less common. There are mostly female teachers, and principals on grounds.


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179. Re. Ms. Vicki Polin, MD (i.e., of Maryland; not medical doctor)     12/15/09 - 1:59 PM
Anonymous

The following excerpt from the Wikipedia article on Ms. Polin's Awareness Center is relevant to the current discussion:

"The Awareness Center has not limited itself to listing people who have been convicted of crimes. Some people profiled on its website have been charged with no offense in any criminal or civil court.

"Rabbi Mark Dratch, chair of the Rabbinical Council of America's Task Force on Rabbinic Improprieties and founder of the organization JSafe, which addressess domestic violence and child abuse in the Jewish community, was once a supporter of the Center. At a Jewish conference on sexual abuse, he referred to Ms. Polin 'as his own personal hero for creating the list of alleged and convicted offenders.' He has since re-evaluated his position. He resigned from the Awareness Center's advisory board saying its list of 'alleged' offenders was victimizing the subjects of false reports. 'I wasn't satisfied with the threshold of verification. There are people who've been victimized and others who've been subject to false reports also being victimized.'

"Rabbi Avi Shafran, spokesman for the Orthodox Agudath Israel of America group, has also criticized the center, for using material from anonymous blogs.

"Jeff Bell, writing in the July 2008 issue of Catalyst magazine says that director Vicki Polin's version of victim advocacy

'...seems to have taken all the aspects of vigilante misanthrope, and the power of the blog is her weapon. Polin has a singular focus to not only expose, but to destroy the life and reputation of whatever person that falls into her sights, regardless of facts. Any Google search on her name serves up a fairly even return of Polin's attacks on rabbinical leaders, and pages written by victims of Polin's tactics.'

"Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union and a trained psychologist, said that while the Awareness Center and the blogs 'have served the purpose of keeping this in the public spotlight and keeping the pressure on established institutions to police their constituencies,' nonetheless 'I read everything with a grain of salt.'"


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180.     12/15/09 - 3:34 PM
Anonymous

Just a brief addition to #179. Many of her attacks on rabbinical leaders are unrelated to the subject matter of her organization. She has joined the ranks of some of the rabidly anti-orthodox media that will create schmutz out of any story and seek to defame anyone. There is a grain of truth to her complaints regarding the coverups and neglect of abuse. But a sizable portion is simply intolerable. Rabbi Dr. Weinreb is accurate - take it all with a grain of salt. One may also reject being served a portion of what she offers.


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181. Regarding Wikipedia     12/15/09 - 6:10 PM
Vicki Polin - MD - vickipolin@aol.com

Anonymous 179

Wikipedia is a very strange web site. Anyone can write what they want there. The entry on The Awareness Center has been changed so many times by various individuals who have an agenda of doing what they can to destroy my personhood and that of anyone who's associated with our organization. It's interesting Anonymous 179 left out the first two paragraphs of what's up on Wikipedia

The Awareness Center was founded in 2001 by Vicki Polin who is CEO of the organization. Its mission statement lists the organization's goals as being the continued development of its international data base/web page, continued growth of its international speaker's bureau, and the development of its educational certification program for rabbis, cantors and other Jewish community leaders.[1] At one point, the organization said it would develop self-help groups, hold an international conference on sexual violence, and establish both a healing/retreat center and a network of researchers. In September 2009, however, the organization announced "an extended sabbatical", claiming insufficient funds to even maintain its list of confirmed, arrested, and rumored offenders.[1] More than 260 rabbis from around the world have signed in support of the organization, from every movement of Judaism.. They include: Rabbi Yosef Blau, Rabbi Reuven Bulka, Rabbi Eli B. Perlman, a member of the Vaad Harabbonim of America, and Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, President of the Beth Din of America (Jewish Religious Court). Rabbi Yosef Blau, religious adviser at Yeshiva University and an advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct, has said that The Awareness Center's website is very valuable "[s]ince you can't get people arrested and there are no court cases, you have to use a standard that's reasonable and [disclosure] works in that context"[2].


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182. Wikipedia     12/15/09 - 6:16 PM
Vicki Polin - MD - vickipolin@aol.com

I forgot to add in that some of the information on the entry above is outdated. The Awareness Center is back up and running, we are lacking funds, yet are doing our best to function with little or no money. If you check our web page you will see that we will be starting two self-help groups sometime in January. One in Philadelphia and the other in Brooklyn. More information about them will be announced shortly. Also our organization really got started in April, 1999. That's the month that I started transforming my private practice web page into the non-profit organization we are today. The Awareness Center is 10 years old, going on eleven.

I'll also admit that after I was assaulted back in July, I needed to take time off for myself, as much as our board of directors were trying to pitch in, they couldn't keep up with the demand.


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183. Liberating forgiveness vs. Feigned tshuvah     12/15/09 - 7:27 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

I agree freely given forgivenss in response to a sincerely repentant sinner has the potential for being part of healing. But there are so many ifs that are usually not meant. A world with no weaponry and no agression would be a far better world for all of us. But very few are saintly enough to advocate unilateral disarmament.

Strangely, the biggest ones claiming teshuvah are usually the ones rationalizing not having to take action about molesting. Not once have I heard of someone saying, I have these urges, so I have voluntarily agreed to not work in settings with children as part of my teshuvah. Instead we are told he should not have to quit his job because he did teshuvah.


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184. re #179 and # 180 on Vicki Polin's motives, methods, and results     12/15/09 - 7:59 PM
Yerachmiel Lopin - editorialconsulting-lop@yahoo.com

Vicki has repeatedly been right well before others caught on. Aleph was persuaded to hire an accused person, by prominent rabbis who said Vicki was unfairly accusing him. They ended up having to fire him when they discovered Vicki was right. Sometimes she has been wrong. As the pioneer she learned the hard way how to avoid mistakes. At this point she is more cautious. That is a mixed blessing. Sometimes when an accusation is not posted, the next victim does not have a way of finding the first victim and so on.

As for wikipedia, it is great when all contributors share a goal and are just building on each other. It gets trickier when there are powerful competing interests. Vicki has big time friends and big time enemies. It is not hard to guess why molesters and their supporters want to discredit her. So in evaluating the page it is important to figure out what was contributed by who, when and the quality of the sources they are citing.

I have actually not checked her page on Wikipedia because by now I have been using her information pages and directing queries to her and have often learned a lot that was useful. I have never found myself going in the wrong direction on the basis of her information. If there is a better source than Vicki, I will of course also use that. But there is something petty about going after her when you can not offer a better option. The frum world could put vicki out of business in the frum world by doing the job itself. Is there a better resource I should be using? In the meantime I will go on turning to her site. As a prudent person I treat all accusations with a grain of salt and I inquire some more. But let's be truthful. False accusations are rare. The big problem is legitimate accusations that are ignored. Once that is dealt with, I will be glad to worry more about the rare instances of false accusations.


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185. My Comment No. 179     12/16/09 - 12:27 AM
Anonymous

(1) I have checked with a reliable source. Rabbis Tzvi Hersh Weinreb (Orthodox Union) and Mark Dratch (Rabbinical Council of America) have recently reaffirmed the statements they made, as quoted in Comment No. 179. Please note that these distinguished Rabbinical experts on abuse have impeccable reputations.

(2) By opposing the Markey Bill (which would suspend the statute of limitations [per Torah law, which does not recognize such a concept]), Rabbi Horowitz and Agudath Israel are denying victims an opportunity for justice. The result is empowering demagogues like Ms. Polin.

(3) A small indication of Ms. Polin's lack of honesty is her continued use of "MD" after her name. Obviously, she is trying to fool people into believing she is a "medical doctor" -- which she is not. ("MD" refers to her residence in the state of Maryland.)


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186. Questions for Vicky     12/16/09 - 12:33 AM
Anonymous

How does one get off the awareness list? All info as of about 2 months ago on Zalman Silber was found to be off the mark in court. Witnesses not found to be credible etc. All charges were subsequently dropped. The last post on him was June 2008. Why is there no vindication or report as such? This is not to discount those who truly need to be on the list. How does one get someone put on the list?


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187. #185 the Markey Bill     12/16/09 - 2:12 PM
Anonymous

Please note that neither Rabbi Marc Dratch nor Rabbi Weinberg opposed the Markey Bill.


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188. 185, regarding vicki polin     12/16/09 - 2:18 PM
Anonymous

It is absurd to even remotely believe that Vicki posted -MD to intentionally imply that she is a doctor. That my friend is loshon horah with a capital "L". She merely wrote her place of origin in the same manner with a dash "-" as "me-Brooklyn" did and even "Yanky Horowitz - Monsey, NY" did. So PLEASE stop promoting loshan horah and antagonism.

If you don't like her or you don't like what she does you are entitled to your own opinion but please do not promote your hatred or dislike onto others.


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189. Pleeease stop!     12/16/09 - 5:38 PM
T/C - NJ

What I don't understand more, is the Loshon Horah that is being allowed onto this site. If this content will be continued to be allowed on Rabbihorowitz.com, it will become just like the other blogs out there...Please keep this monitered from Loshon Horah and other hurtful comments, noone is looking for more pain.

Weather your opinion of someone that is helping remove predetors is favorable or not, this is not the place to post it.

Ah Freilichin Chanukah!!


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190. To Commenter No. 189     12/21/09 - 9:07 AM
Anonymous

Why is it Lashon HaRa to warn people visiting this site that accusations made by a certain individual -- posted here and elsewhere -- against Torah scholars have been proven to be unfounded?


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191.     12/21/09 - 10:09 PM
TC

To warn people is one thing, to talk negatively is another.

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