It was decided that we should ask someone who knew more about these things before going to the authorities. After all, it was something new to my parents. What better way to settle it than going straight to the top, straight to the rebbe that my father said would know best.
I remember more hushed meetings in the living room. The French door pane had been replaced which made it harder to hear on the nights my sister and I sat on the stairs straining to listen to the secrets going on downstairs. I wasn’t to talk about it with my siblings. I know my sister knew there was a problem, and that year was the closest we’ve ever been in our lives. It makes me feel sick that my current situation doesn’t warrant her support – even holding hands on the stairs silently – because the pain of losing my children is raw and is incomparable to being abused as a child.
I remember my father’s absence more. I remember my mother’s distance from me and focus on the younger children. I don’t know if it’s because they were grieving too – that would make sense – but I felt alone. My sister and brother, close in age to me, made a point not to antagonize. I was a fragile vase, easy to break and very hard to repair.
It was decided that we wouldn’t go to the police, right away anyway. It would be dealt with in the kehilo since he was so young and a good bochur with no history of inappropriate behavior.
“We’ll send him away, you won’t see him. You’ll talk to someone, someone who can help.”
I sat in the office of the “therapist.” I don’t remember much about the conversations, but I remember being embarassed to talk about what had happened. I was ashamed and I was angry. The beige painted walls crumbled in one corner. I focused on that as I spoke. The “therapist” stopped me, drilled into me how it wasn’t my fault and how I mustn’t be angry at Hashem or my parents or anyone. Hashem would give me the strength to move on and forget about this ever happening to me. I would go back to being very aidel all the time, my parents would again shep nachas.
I saw a photo of myself from that time last week. I was gaunt. I don’t remember not eating, but I don’t have the genes to be the skinniest person. It might have been the lighting, but I looked grey. I wondered, silently, if my parents noticed how small I was on a tall frame. How my clothes were too big for my body. I was working so hard on being aidel that I wasn’t healthy. The “therapy” continued, and I forgot what had happened. I still can’t recall details, conversations, events. I don’t remember simchos. I don’t remember my sister being born.
It worked. I mostly forgot.
I would see his family on the street sometimes, they would stare at me with hateful eyes. I once saw his brother taking the same shortcut I would, through a small park where the road with the same name doesn’t connect. Fear and shame bubbled up inside me so much that I vomited into bushes along the way most of the way home. I had a chest infection at the time, and after the doctor was consulted it was determined that I was allergic to the antibiotics I had been prescribed. I still don’t take those antibiotics, but maybe it wasn’t them that made me sick.
A couple of years later, he was arrested for raping a young woman. They sent him out of the country before the trial, and the last I heard he was still living in Eretz Yisroel.
I don’t want to intimate that my parents didn’t grieve this decision. That they didn’t take into account my feelings or my health in the process. As smart as they were, they did not know enough to go against or outside of the community that they knew. And because I’ve forgotten a lot of it, it seems to me someone else’s life playing out when I do recall puzzle pieces of information I thought were lost forever. Sometimes I wish it would stay lost.
There really isn’t much point to my story. I want it recorded because I forget. I’ve been writing this for over a month and still can’t recall details. The statute of limitations is long over, and truthfully I don’t want I should be involved in it again. I am not OTD because of it. I didn’t leave my family because of it.
I’m a stronger person because of it.
What is important though, is the notion that sending known abusers “avek” will solve the problem. Sending a bochur who “doesn’t have a history” to another kehilo only to brutalize a non-Jew wasn’t the answer. He needed prison time, he needed a record. The kehilo did it again, this time sending him far “avek” so that the secular authorities couldn’t touch him. Maybe he reformed his ways. Maybe he’s happy learning and hiding and not hurting other girls or young women.
Today, news that the husband of Nechemya Weberman’s victim is receiving death threats. Is this really Ahavas Yisroel? Rabbi Elchonon Tauber said recently at a Jewish Community Watch meeting that if you know something and don’t speak up, you’re called a molester too.
The concept of mesirah is madness. It is outdated. It is wrong.
When do we finally acknowledge it?