Everyone has their limit. That point where acceptance shuts down and they don’t want to accept that certain horrible realities exist. I personally have yet to find my own limit, but I’ve engaged in numerous conversations with friends and family members and watched them reach theirs. Yesterday, it was the concept that females can be perpetrators of sexual abuse that caused that look to cross my friend’s face, made her gaze slide to the left, and had her saying, “I don’t know about that…”
Warning bells were already going off in my mind when she told me that she didn’t know any frum people who were sexually abused. Still, this person is a lovely soul. She is warm and accepting and genuinely cares about me and my journey in life and conveys this without the slightest bit of judgement, so I didn’t mind proceeding in the conversation. I try to be happy for people that haven’t encountered the darker side of life. The truth is that she probably knows frum people who were sexually abused; she just doesn’t know that fact about them.
I said, “I know girls who were sexually abused by their female teachers in frum schools.” This is true. I also know many people who were abused by female family members. And there’s the current case of the female, Australian principal who is hiding out in Israel to avoid facing the consequences of molesting her students. The truth is often ugly. The truth is unpleasant and distasteful and hard to stomach. I almost felt bad for introducing my friend to this concept. But I would have felt worse if I didn’t.
To avoid addressing these issues adds another layer of shame and pain to those who suffer. If we deem sexual abuse by a female to be more unspeakable than sexual abuse by a male, we are doing a disservice to the victims of the women perpetrators. To suffer abuse is horrible enough. To suffer abuse compounded by disbelief and possible tinges of homophobia is worse.
Ignorance really is bliss. I sometimes wish I could go back to a time when I didn’t know that bad things existed. Rather, I wish they’d stop existing. Since that’s not possible, I do the next best thing. I pay my respects to the intense suffering that exists and do my best to provide healing and love to those that I cross paths with. It doesn’t feel like enough. Not nearly enough. But short of a miracle, it will have to do.
To my friends who are sometimes caught off guard or slightly traumatized by the things I talk about: I am so glad these realities are not a part of your life. I am happy for you. I hope it stays that way, but I’d like for you to have some compassion and understanding if you encounter someone who shares these things with you.
To those in my life that are living these realities: Your experiences are real and valid and no more shameful than any other difficult situation. My heart and ears are open to you and I will keep spreading awareness so that you can feel more comfortable. I don’t want you to suffer anymore.