The night before last, I had the opportunity to attend a very special event. About 350 people filled the Yeshurun Synagogue in Jerusalem to be present for a truly ground-breaking evening. Organized by JCW (Jewish Community Watch, founded by an angel known as Meyer Seewald see here ), this event was focused on education about and tips regarding prevention of child sexual abuse.
There were a number of speakers from whom I learned quite a lot. Sadly, I needed to leave a little early so I missed the end. But I can say with confidence that the evening was a true success. First, it was a success in the fact that it took place at all. Secondly, it was a success due to the shear number of people and the broad spectrum of people, who attended. Third, it was successful in the message(s) they wished to convey. It was powerful and helpful…
The evening was MC’ed by Benny Forer, a prosecutor in the Los Angeles DA office. He deals with internet predators, child porn, child sex abuse and other related matters. He is on the board of JCW and gave us some insight into the daily horrific stories he needs to deal with. He explained about JCW and how they assist victims in so many ways, including helping them turn from victim to survivor.
The first speaker was Dr. Norman Goldwasser, a psychiatrist based in Miami, who also works closely with JCW. He discussed the physiology behind what happens after trauma and why it is that the memory is affected differently from trauma versus our day to day activities. He also discussed what is known as EMDR therapy (see here) for victims of abuse/trauma. He stressed that beyond the initial trauma of the molestation there is a SECONDARY trauma that often occurs that is worse than the first: Not being believed or being told to keep it hushed up. That teaches the child to not trust; that the world is not safe; that he/she can not find solace or peace. That alone is the continuation of the sexual abuse of the child as it has now also been imprinted on the child’s psyche. On top of all the information he gave us, he left us with a valuable piece of information: If you are a victim, you can become a survivor. There ARE people who can help you!
Next, via video, we heard from Eli Nash. Eli is a survivor…his story is not uncommon, yet it is a difficult one to hear. He spoke for nearly an hour and the audience was mesmerized by his message and his story. He stressed the difference between “SECRET” (which can be lethal) and “PRIVATE.” (For a very brief clip and idea of his story see here)
His message and the message of others was also to dispel some myths and to bolster some statistics. No, it is not true that most children who are victims of sexual abuse go on to become abusers. Yes, it is true that many offenders (molesters, predators) have over 100 victims!
So, how do we protect our children and our communities? Education is the number one tool.
SILENCE IS THE ENEMY!
You can visit the JCW site. You can visit sites such as Child Lure Prevention (here) and you can visit the literally hundreds of sites on line with prevention tips and with how to deal with moving from victim to survivor.
Some points that I want to make clear: There are experts out there that deal with child sex abuse. If you are a victim/survivor: seek out help from the right people. Parents: reporting cases to the AUTHORITIES is critical! If your child comes to you with a report of someone abusing him, LISTEN to what you are being told! You know your child better than anyone else and then you can seek professional help as to the next step.
ANYONE WHO TELLS YOU TO KEEP IT QUIET OR TO JUST TELL YOUR CHILD THAT HE IS IMAGINING IT IS NOT ONLY CAUSING HARM TO THAT CHILD BUT IS COMPLICIT IN ALL FUTURE ACTS OF THAT PREDATOR!
Telling someone about your abuse in order to get help and to get the abuser stopped is NOT Lashon Hara! It is not mesira. If being a victim of sex abuse would mean that someone might not want to marry into your family, would you really even want that person as a part of your family in the first place!?
Bottom line: We live in an age where FINALLY people are speaking about this unspeakable horror/plague. Yes, the numbers are staggering…but we finally have avenues down which to travel to save future victims and to help those who have been molested. It is time to hit the road and become proactive! Speak up against these crimes and become a part of the solution!