Sunday, November 17, 2013

Touring the Village of New Square, NY

Touring the Village of New Square, NY
© (2013) Photographs by Vicki Polin
Music by Johnny Mathis - "Kol Nidre"




I want to thank rabbi Dovid Twersky for the wonderful escort service he provided to my friends and I while we drove through the Village of New Square back in November to insure our safety.



Prior to entering the town you will see a sign posted regarding the village ordnance's regarding modesty in one's attire. Also throughout the town you will see signs posted in Yiddish regarding which side of the street is for men and which side is for women. To the best of my knowledge, New Square is the only town in the United States with segregated sidewalks. I'm guessing the town found some sort of exemption to the civil rights movement?



While watching this video think about think about the civil rights movement, especially regarding both women and children.




FYI: It's important to note that there is only one road and out of Village New Square, NY. 


I was told by my tour guide that there are times the Village of New Square will block the road with a bus, to prevent people from coming in or leaving.



For more background information on New Square see below the following film clip:


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The quasi-orthodox Jewish world compared to the BITE Model of Cult Mind Control

(This article was originally published by The Awareness Center on November 6, 2013, and republished by The Times of Israel on October 12, 2015)

Over the last fifteen years of my life I’ve been working within various movements of Judaism, from the unaffiliated to the ultra-orthodox. When I first got started I was unaware of the many facets of orthodox Judaism. What I used to consider extremely observant, is actually considered to be modern orthodox. As the years progressed I started to understand the diverse populations within the Jewish orthodox world. The vast majority of orthodox Jews do not fall into the category of being considered cult like. Yet there are some small splinter groups within the far-right movement of Judaism, which appear to fall into this category.

Recently I decided to go through Steve Hassan’sBITE Model of Cult Mind Control” to compare these splinter groups of the Jewish orthodox world to see if they would fall within the BITE Model to verify if my hypothesis was correct. Below are some of my findings when answering the 15 questions under the Behavior category. 


While reading the following please be aware that I am NOT comparing “mainstream orthodox Judaism" to the "BITE Model", only the extremist groups within ultra-orthodox communities; such communities as those in which Jewish survivors of sex crimes in the past have shared that they were not allowed to make hot-line reports when they suspect a child is being abused or neglected to the secular authorities without the permission of their rabbis first. It is in these types of communities, rabbis’ regulate just about everything that goes on in their community members life.




1. Regulate individual’s physical reality: In mainstream Judaism, a person who keeps kosher and shabbat (the Jewish sabbath) is considered an Orthodox Jew. In the eyes of many of those living within the eruv of an ultra-orthodox, extremist group, an individual is not even considered Jewish, let alone a Torah observant Jew –– unless the individual does exactly what their particular rabbi says to do. In these types of communities if one goes to a rabbi with a question and does not like the answer, they are NOT allowed to go to another rabbi to get another response. To do so is consider heresy. 



2. Dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates. In some of the extremist groups, and depending on how insulated the community is, the rabbi will dictate where, how, and with whom the member lives and associates or isolates with. 


The whole concept of the shadchan (matchmaker) is an example of this. One can not just find a mate and get married, there is a process to getting married. In many of these communities parents will hire a shadchun who will present possible suitors for a potential bride. If the woman is from the right kind of family then the possible mate may be a rabbi or from a prominent family. It’s sort of like what happens when trying to marry off someone from a royal family or like the concept of using a dowry.

If the child is not from ‘the right kind of family’ they may not be introduced to someone who has any standing within the community. Instead they most likely would be told by the shadchan they need to settle for someone who they do not feel comfortable with. If the individual looking for a mate is a troublemaker (doesn’t keep to the rules of the community or questions authority), they will not be able to find a good marriage partner. If the individual is male, they also may not be able to get into a good yeshiva (Jewish day school, high school or seminary). In these type of extremist communities, this almost like getting a death sentence. Without being able to study Torah under the right rabbi, could basically influence the standing within the community the rest of his life.



3. When, how and with whom the member has sex. In the more extremist orthodox communities, the issue of modesty runs rampant to the degree that no male over the age of 13 is allowed to touch a woman, except for a woman after he is married. In a more liberal chassidic or yeshivish community a woman is allowed to be hugged by her father and male siblings, even after she reaches the age of 13. In the more main stream orthodox community this is a non-issue. 


When a woman gets married and starts her monthly menstrual cycle –– up until the time her rabbi says she is allowed to go to the Mikvah her, husband is not allowed to touch her. This includes shaking hands or any other type of physical contact. In the more extreme orthodox communities, once a woman’s period is over she must wait 7 days before her husband will bring a pair of her panties to the rav or rebbe of the community, who will look at the underwear to determine if she’s “clean”. Meaning there’s no stains. In these more extreme orthodox communities, a trained rabbi will also be able to tell from the underwear (or a cloth used to wipe themselves to bring to their rabbi) if the woman needs to seek medical attention from an OB/GYNE for gynecological care. A woman can go at any time to see a doctor, as long as it’s a doctor recommended by the rav or rebbe. In a few of these communities there is NO such thing as confidentiality or doctors following HIPPA . Many Jewish survivors, who came from these more insulated communities described that they learned that it was vitally important for all doctors and mental health professionals to report their findings to their rav or rebbe, so the rav or rebbe can keep tabs on everyone. 


Once a rav or rebbe (rabbi) clears a woman, she can go to the mikvah. In some of the more extremist types of ultra-orthodox communities, once a woman has gone to the mikvah, she must return straight home and have sexual relations with her husband right away –– because at that time she is considered clean and pure. 


Again in some of the more extremist communities one of the beliefs for having sexual relations, is for procreating; yet it is also important to note that it is the man’s responsibility to please his wife.

The belief in many orthodox communities is that while making love, one must have only pure and holy thoughts. Afterwards both the husband and the wife should thank Hashem for the possibility of life. 


According to halacha (Jewish Law), it’s a sin for a man to have sexual relations outside of the marriage. Yet it is a forgive able sin as long as the act is with an unmarried woman or a non-Jew. The only exception to this rule is if a man is a kohan, and the the rules get changed up. A kohan can never have sexual relations with anyone except the woman he is married to, or else he can loose his status of a Kohan. If a male is sexually abused as a child, he then has to ask G-d for forgiveness to maintain his status as a Kohan. A Kohan is someone who is a descendant of Aaron. 


According to halacha, adultery only occurs when both the man and the woman are married to other people. This view is often taught in the yeshivish and chasidic world. In the more modern orthodox world this definition no longer is true, yet in the more extremist groups they believe halacha is halacha (Jewish Law). 


Getting back to the Mikvah. In a few of the more extremely insulated charedi communities, after the rav or rebbe gives the husband permission to have sexual relations with his wife, and sees the man the next day, the custom is to go up to him and say “Mazel tov”. Because having sexual relations is the potential of bringing a new life into the world.


It’s important to note that the reason why a man does not have sexual relations with his wife once she gets her period, is NOT because she’s “unclean”. It has to do with the fact that the belief is that she and her body is in a state of mourning -- for the potential life that never became a reality. 


4. Control types of clothing and hairstyles. The local orthodox rabbi or Vaad (rabbinical counsel) will determine what clothing and hair styles are appropriate for people to wear. A married woman will never show her hair in public. It will be covered by a snood or sheitle (wig). The only person who can see a married woman’s hair is her husband or children. In some groups, boys can only see their mother’s hair if the child is under the age of 13. Female children it doesn’t matter. 

A woman’s neck line should always be covered. No one but her husband should ever see her collar bone, elbows or knees. In some insulated communities, a woman always is wearing stockings so that her skin doesn’t show on her legs, including her feet. You’ll find this in the chassidic world and in some of the more yeshivish communities.


5. Regulate diet - food and drink, hunger and/or fasting. The rules of kashrut changes from community to community. It all can get extremely political. The idea of hechshers is relatively new. Prior to WWII most people shechitaled (slaughtered) their own cows and chickens, and knew how to clean food properly to insure there were no bugs or other insects and also to be sure that what they were eating followed halacha. 

Today very few people kill their own animals or watch them being slaughtered (except in the more ultra-orthodox chassidic world, where people watch to make sure it’s being done correctly prior to buying meat). Also many people will only buy frozen vegetables what have the correct hechsher from the proper kashering group set by the standards of the rabbi they follow. Also to ensure food is kosher, there needs to be someone who is called the mashgiach (kosher supervisor) to supervise food preparations to insure everything is done properly at various gatherings and restaurants. 

There are TWO major fast days in Judaism and 7 minor types of fast days. How you do these are often regulated by rabboinm. If someone can’t fast for a fast day, they must get clearance from the rav prior to the fast day. Even if a doctor says it’s dangerous to fast the rav has got to give you permission to eat, and often he will instruct you in how to eat, i.e. small bits of food and small sips of water throughout the day, etc.



6. Manipulation and deprivation of sleep. I've never heard of this happening in any Jewish groups, except on shavout, when men stay up all night studying Torah, yet some men at one point do go to sleep.



7. Financial exploitation, manipulation or dependence. This is a tricky one. Rabbis of communities may determine where you can shop and the type of things you are allowed to buy. In a particular type of Chabad community you are not allowed to buy your children anything with animals on it, except if the animal is something you can eat. The same goes for children’s books. Because food has to be kosher and you may only be allowed to buy food at a particular store or with a particular kashering label, it can cost you 3 to 4 times as much as no kosher food. 


You can also only send your children to the schools chosen by your rabbi. These schools are extremely expensive. If you follow the rules and regulations you might be able to get discounts, scholarships, etc for your kids to attend school; along with several other types of perks given to those who are under the thumb of the rebbe or rav.



8. Restrict leisure, entertainment, vacation time. A rav or rebbe will determine what kinds of leisure activities are kosher, along with things you do for entertainment and vacation time. An example of this is during Halamod Pesach (the days in between the holy days passover), a religious group will rent out Hershey Park and make it kosher food available They make it into a huge party of sorts and it is over taken by the mostly frum population, yet they do allow anyone to come in.


When it comes to entertainment you are not allowed to have a television in your home and computer use is regulated. You are NOT allowed to go to movies, except at a shul or other Jewish establishment and the the movies are chosen by the rav or rebbe. Music is also censored. Your rabbi will determine what music is allowable and what is not. This includes concerts. Women are allowed to hear both men and women sing, but men are banned from hearing women sing, except if it’s their wife in private and their own children as long as the female children are under the age of 13. The issue is that a woman’s singing voice can an arose a man, and it is the woman’s responsibility not to be sexually arousing to men. According to the ultra-orthodox extremist groups, men can not control their impulses. This is also why they believe women get raped -- because it’s something the woman or female child has done. The same thing goes for dancing. That is why at weddings and other celebrations women are behind a mechitza (fence). I’ve attended weddings where the women are seated in a totally different room or even in an alternative building. 



9. Major time spent with group indoctrination and rituals and/or self indoctrination including the internet. I already spoke about the internet. Men are supposed to spend their days studying torah or learning with the rebbe or rav. In some communities this all they do throughout their lives and it’s the woman who not only cares for the children and home, but also works outside the home. 



10. Permission required for major decisions. This is required in almost all orthodox communities including in a few living in the more modern orthodox world.



11. Thoughts, feelings, and activities (of self and others) reported to superiors This happens all the time, including in some modern orthodox communities. They believe it’s one of those checks and balances to keep a community cohesive.



12. Rewards and punishments used to modify behaviors, both positive and negative. The answer to this in the ultra-orthodox extremist groups is ALWAYS. As long as you do what you’re told it’s amazing how kind folks are to you. You’d be amazed at the love blasting that goes on when someone first enters the community in a BT (Baal Teshuva) community. In the more chassidic world this is not necessarily true, because they don’t trust outsiders. Yet, if you don’t do what the rabbi says, your home could be set on fire, you can loose your job, your kids kicked out of the yeshivas, and or you can’t get a good marriage partner.



13. Discourage individualism, encourage group-think. In the more insular extremist groups, this is absolutely true. Remember it’s unthinkable to question authority. If you think for yourself you are considered either a troublemaker or mentally ill.



14. Impose rigid rules and regulations. In the more extremist orthodox communities one must always follow the rules and regulations set down by the local vaad (Jewish religious court), or by the head rabbi of the community. In the more insulated communities, every aspect of a persons life is regulated by their rabbi. In these extremist, insulated communities if one does not follow the rules, their children will no longer be allowed to attend the local day schools or yeshivas, their children will not get good marriage partners which is an essential part of the more charedi lifestyle, and also if they own a business, community members will no longer be allowed to shop there. 



15. Instill dependency and obedience. In the more insulated, extremist types of orthodox communities this is absolutely. Your rav or rebbe because G-d like. They be come your ultimate parent (father). You are nothing without them. You need them to make every decision there can be to make. If you disobey them, your life and that of everyone you know and love can be ruined.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mini Conference: Freedom Of Mind - Empowering Individuals To Think For Themselves


To pre-register for the mini conference 
click on the donate button below


When:  November 17, 2013
             2:00 PM - 5:30 PM

Where:  Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center  - Auditorium
              255 Lafayette Ave. (Route 59) 
              Suffern, NY 10901

Registration Fee / Suggested Donation):  
Early Bird Rate Per Person: $10.00 (before November 15, 2013) using a credit card
At the door:  $15.00 Per Person (cash or check made out to The Awareness Center, Inc.) 

For more information contact:  
             The Awareness Center, Inc.

             Call:  224-534-9155 or  Email: VickiPolin@aol.com



Internationally Renown mind control expert - Steve Hassan, M.Ed, LMHC, NCC and Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC will be providing an educational workshop on mind control.    

The goals of this workshop will help participants learn to recognize what mind control is, how to recognize and avoid being influenced by destructive and controlling practices which can occur within families, in relationships, at schools, yeshivas and within various other religious and professional organization. 

This workshop is dedicated to the memory of Deb Tambor, a woman who grew up in the chassidic world and found the need to walk away.  Abe Weiss, who was Deb's boyfriend will speak briefly about her life and his own experience of going Off The Derech (OTD).  


For more information contact:  
             Call:  224-534-9155 or Email: VickiPolin@aol.com
_______________________________________________________________________

SPEAKERS BIO:

Steve Hassan has dedicated his life to helping loved ones leave controlling people, cults and beliefs.   Steve is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) in the State of Massachusetts and a Nationally Certified Counselor (NCC). He has been educating the public about controlling groups and individuals for nearly forty  years.  Steve is a member of The Awareness Center’s international advisory board and is also the founder and director of the Freedom of Mind Resource Center.  In the past Steve’s appeared on 60 Minutes, Nightline, Dateline, Larry King Live, and The O’Reilly Factor. 

Steve is also created the "BITE Model of Cult Mind Control", and the author of "Combatting Cult Mind Control: Guide to Protection, Rescue, and Recovery from Destructive Cults"; "Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves" and “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs.”


Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the State of Illinois who has been helping survivors of sex crimes heal for just under thirty years.  Throughout Vicki’s career she has counseled both adults and children of sex crimes, she has also worked with survivors of political torture, domestic violence, individuals with addiction issues, along with survivors who were involved in cults.

In the past Vicki has qualified as an expert witness and provided testimony in juvenile court on cases related to childhood sexual abuse and neglect. She has presented educational and experiential seminars to community groups, universities, and at professional conferences internationally –– including at Jewish Women International (JWI) Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), National Organization for Women (NOW), and the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women.  Vicki has also provided testimony at legislative hearings across the United States.  

Vicki is the founder and director of The Awareness Center, which is the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault (JCASA).  Vicki is also the author of “The 1997 Chicagoland Area Sexual Abuse Resource Guide for Care Providers and Survivors”.


Directions:
Good Samaritan Hospital
255 Lafayette Ave.  Suffern, NY
Click here for directions

For information on Public Transportation from either Brooklyn or NYC

(NOTE: you will have to either take a cab or walk a distance once you arrive to get to the hospital):
MTA New York City Transit:  718-330-1234 
NJ TRANSIT RAIL 
Monsey Trails - Bus from and to Brooklyn


CONFERENCE SPONSORS:








To pre-register for the mini conference 
click on the donate button below




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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Too Embarrassing To Offer Help?

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Deb Tambor and the Quasi-Chasidic Town of New Square

© (2014) By Vicki Polin
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - October 1, 2013

Rabbi David Twersky (Skvere Rebbe) and Deb Tambor Z"L
When you deal with a quasi-chasidic community that appears to be mimicking a cult, innocent people end up dying -- in the case of Deb Tambor I call this murder by suicide. 

Judaism is about each individuals relationship with G-d, and not the power and control various rabbonim seem to be implementing over their congregants and or community members. From the experiences shared with me from various individuals (OTD survivors) who walked away from communities like New Square, they left in hopes of being able to experience "Free Will". 

I've never seen so many young people feeling trapped within a system in which they felt they had no alternative but to end their lives. With the number of suicides coming out of New Square along with a few other quasi-chasidic communities, I fear the number of deaths will surpass the number of those who died in Jonestown. I pray to G-d all the time that the federal goverment will start investigating the "alleged" corruption that is going on in this town –– in hopes of preventing one more person ends up committing suicide. 

I want to remind everyone who is feeling hopeless or trapped that there is help available to you. You can always call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Cyberbullying Over 50: The Facebook Drama

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Going "Off The Derech" Hurts!

By Vicki PolinExaminer - September 5, 2013


Walking away from a religious community is very similar to pain experienced when someone in your family dies or that of a close friend. It’s also not uncommon for OTD survivors to feel like they have been used or betrayed.

Jewish survivors of child abuse and/or neglect often have no other choice but to leave the families and communities they grew up in. This is especially true for those who grew up in an ultra-orthodox, insulated community. Many of these survivors have shared that they believed they had no other option -- or else they would have end up using drugs or giving up on life.
For Jewish survivors who grew up in secluded, insulated environments going “Off The Derech" (OTD) is like moving to another universe. Many of these survivors often do not know how to read or write in English, have very little education in secular studies, have never watched TV, gone to the movies, let alone used the internet. So even though this select group of people grew up in the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Israel or any other country considered to be a part of western civilization –– they have no idea how to live in the secular world. Most have also never had friends from outside of their own communities.
Considering all of these facts, survivors who are OTD face many challenges. Leaving everything you know and love can feel devastatingly painful, especially because many have never learned how to identify, process or cope with their thoughts and feelings.
GOING OFF THE DERECH CAN FEEL: 

EXTREMELY PAINFUL, especially when a survivor realize’s that their own thought processes are different then those who live within their communities they were born.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor starts to believe what they were taught was the truth –– begins to have cracks and they no longer can believe what they see as being falsehoods and or lies.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivors who has gone OTD, realizes their beliefs in God (higher power) are different then their parents, other family members or that of their communities. The same is true for the OTD survivor who realizes they no longer believe in God.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when an OTD survivor realizes that the community leaders and or family members they loved and trusted implicitly –– who taught them never to question authority –– were actually manipulating the survivor along with other community members.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when an OTD survivor believes they have been deceived –– that what they were taught was true Judaism was not, instead the begin to realize the dogma they were taught was nothing more then cult like propaganda.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor going OTD realizes individuals who grew up in other communities are not "bad, evil, liars, cheaters or deceivers". The OTD survivors starts to realize that individuals who come from other movements within Judaism or who are not even Jewish are people just like themselves.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING when a survivor realizes their faith in God hasn't changed - only their trust in their rebbe, family and or their community has.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING when a survivors starts to ask questions or verbalize their thoughts and feelings about how the community is ran. Once a survivor reaches this point they are often accused by family members, friends and or other community members of being problematic, a trouble maker, psychologically disturbed or even dangerous.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when OTD survivors starts to be shamed, blamed, isolated and by lifelong friends, family members and or other community members –– because the survivor can no longer “play the game”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL to a survivor who is in the process of going OTD –– when they realize that the love and acceptance provided by family members and community leaders was conditional –– “as long as they did what they were told to do when they were told to do it”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor when they reach the point that it is nearly impossible to cope with this extremely deep infectious wound -- bubbling up inside them –– when trying to suppress it all doesn’t work anymore. Let alone the survivors attempts at trying to forget hat happened to them doesn’t work.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor when they realize they have to leave the only home and or community they have ever known. How does walk away from family members, your children, your friends, etc.?
IT’S EXTREMELY PAINFUL to see the looks of hatred coming from the faces of those you –– to hear the deafening silence when you try and talk to those you love –– when they no longer return phone calls. It’s extremely painful when you try and give a close relative a hug and push you away or stand like a statue, pretending you aren't there. It’s incredibly painful when those you love looks at you as if you were the most evil person on the planet and they teach your siblings children, nieces and nephews and cousins to hate you.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL AND CONFUSING to know that the survivor has no other choice but to start their lives all over again. Often survivors feel they have betrayed, disillusioned, and then become very suspicious of everyone including family, friends and other community members who might be trying to offer them support.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a OTD survivor find themselves feeling guilty or ashamed of where they grew up, the beliefs they were taught –– and/or the fact they have no other option but to walk away. Survivors in these types of situations often feel depressed, confused, lonely and isolated. It makes perfect sense that they might find it difficult to make decisions -- especially for those who never had to do this before -- because everything was decided for them by their rebbe or other community leaders.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a OTD survivor first walks away and has so much time on their hands. Prior to leaving their communities their lives were consumed with family responsibilities, learning, Jewish rituals and prayer. Now survivors have to find other things to do with themselves, which can leave them feeling guilty –– for not doing what they were taught to –– or even guilty for discovering new hobbies, which were thought to be sinful in their previous life.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for OTD survivors on shabbos or yom tovim. These are times in which family and friends gather. Survivors may find themselves alone with no where to go or friends to be with.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL at times when an OTD survivor feels as if they lost touch with reality or their feelings go numb. Often survivors go through periods of time where they feel as if they are just "floating" –– and at times consider going back to the security they felt living within a cultish community or cult involved family.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL when a survivor feels all alone and isolated. They don’t believe that anyone in the outside world can understand what they are experiencing. It’s also extremely scary when an OTD survivor feel that their sense of self confidence and self worth are almost non-existent.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor who grew up outside the frum world, when they realize that they gave up everything for a cultish lifestyle –– giving up on such as your continuing their education, career, finances, friends, families, etc.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL after leaving the cultish community, when an OTD survivor has to explain voided time in their work history when job seeking. They may also find they have no other choice but to go back to school to further their education after time away from their studies.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for a person who grew up outside of the religious world who walked away, to explain all those missing years to your friends and family. It’s also difficult to hear from those who love you “I told you so”.
EXTREMELY PAINFUL for the OTD survivor who grew up secular to realize that they had been deceived, that they alone were responsible for being taken in. These survivors may feel stupid, used and feel ashamed that they wasted so much of their time, energies and money living within the quasi-frum world.

IT’S EXTREMELY PAINFUL TO LEAVE THE FRUM WORLD
Many individuals who loose not only their families and communities, but a lifestyle go through a huge grieving process –– just as one would grieving a death.
There are no instant cures for the sense of loss, inability to trust, feelings of guilt, confusion, emotional pain, anger , and or disillusionment. It takes time to heal, and often the OTD survivors will need to find a licensed mental health professional who not only understand the issues of working with survivors of child abuse, yet also someone who has experience working with ex-cult members.
The truth is that with time many of the negative feelings will disappear and will be replaced with happiness, joy, a sense of peace, being able to trust again –– along with the ability to think for ones self independently.
YES at times the pain may feel unbearable, yet with time, patience and as an OTD survivor learns how trust again, develops healthy friendships and builds a new support system –– the feelings will lesson and the survivor will be able to live life outside of the quasi-frum world.

Friday, August 16, 2013

It’s About Taking A Stand

By Vicki Polin
Examiner - August 16, 2013

The attempts at marginalizing the work of The Awareness Center has been one of the most common defense mechanism used by various Jewish community leaders over the last fifteen years. The goal –– deterring those of us who have been pioneering forces of the anti-rape movement in Judaism.
 
I cannot even begin to tell you how many times various Jewish community leaders have said: “You can only take what Vicki Polin says with a grain of salt”; “Vicki Polin is nothing more then a self-hating Jew” or that “Vicki Polin is nothing more than an insane, man hating, angry bitch”.

Susan B. Anthony
These types of tactics are nothing new. They are the exact same bullying techniques used early on and throughout the history of the suffragist movement. Can you just imagine the outrage when back in the early 1840's when women starting joining together globally, demanding they be allowed to have the same civil rights as men –– to be considered their own person, and not just the property of a man. Think about the outrage our society had when Susan B. Anthony came up with the notion that women should also have the right to vote?
 
What those in leadership positions do not want their community members to realize, is that one grain of salt can merge with others and become a mountain –– just as one drop of water when it joins with another, can soon become a Typhoon.
 
In the orthodox Jewish world those who started spewing the hate against those of us who speak out against sex crimes are basically all a part of the culture of disturbed dominance –– and should all basically be considered cowards.
 
With hindsight it should have been expected, that religious community leaders who are afraid of losing their power and control over a society –– by a strong, intelligent, compassionate woman who did not grow up in the Torah observant world –– would be the perfect target for their anger.
 
Whenever there is someone who is an activist for any cause in which it might change the societal views on a topic, it should be expected that if the pioneering force would also be female, that everyone would automatically assumed that what ever they are doing is out of anger -- with all the negative connotations that go along with it.
 
When one shines a light on sex crimes in Jewish communities as brightly as I have for the last fifteen years, you would be surprised how many times various caring individuals have told me that I sound too angry.
 
I should not have been surprised by the number of community leaders who would invest a great deal of time, energy and money using propaganda and the Jewish news media in hopes of “demonizing” those of us passionate individuals who care enough to attempt to protect children and speak out in behalf of adult survivors.
 
When I started my own personal spiritual quest in the male dominated, orthodox Jewish world fifteen years ago –– and then created The Awareness Center, I had not thought about the fact as a woman I was expected to posses qualities in which women were to be seen as vulnerable, passive, incompetent, unable to make decisions for themselves without consulting with their husband or rabbi first –– let alone be child like. It was as if I was in a time warp –– going back to the early days of the suffragist movement. So many believed that outspoken women were nothing more then neurotic victims of penis envy. Let alone frustrated that they were not men that they would want nothing more then to destroy all male dominated practices in an act of bitter revenge.
 
For some strange reason my beliefs clashed with the orthodox world. I believe everyone should be educated consumers, I believe that children have the right to grow up in safe homes and communities. I believe that those who have been harmed have a civil right to speak out and find ways to heal, and that those who offend or cover up sex crimes should be criminally charged. I don’t care if I am a woman or a man speaking out. Each and everyone of us have free will and should use our G-d given abilities to speak the truth and be heard and believed.