Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Perspective: Survivors of Sex Crimes Being Revictimized (United Nation's Conference on the Status of Women)

The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - March 26, 2013

The following article is the first part of Vicki Polin's presentation at the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women that wasn't recorded.

To watch the the rest of Vicki Polin's presentation that was recorded at the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women (UN-CSW) see below

Vicki Polin, MA, LCPC
In any community where people do not trust the outside world they become more vulnerable to predators from within their own communities. This is true for people of all faiths, especially those who live within more insulated communities, which includes those who come from a Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Jewish faith based community.

Being a Jew, and after working within various movements within the Jewish faith for the last 14 years, I feel most comfortable speaking about the experiences of Jewish survivors of sex crimes.

To understand the responses of Jewish communities dealing with sexual abuse or assault, we all must be aware that for over 5700 years, the ugly face of anti-semitism has always shined brightly when it came to be known that a Jew committed a crime.

Needless to say for many Jews, there became a distrust of outsiders. From my own person observations I can say there seems to be more of a heightened fear of the non-Jewish world from those who survived the holocaust, including the following generations along with those who live within the more observant Jewish world.

ecause of past experiences of anti-semitism and the fear of retaliation from the non-Jewish world -- the handling of allegations of cases of emotional, physical and sexual abuse have mostly been handled by members of the clergy and or various Jewish community leaders -- and NOT by secular law enforcement agencies.

Just like those from other faith based communities, these clergy members and community leaders had little if any training in forensics, let alone conducting victim sensitive interviewing. Needless to say, those who were victimized by sex crimes are being revicitimized and are still being shamed and blamed.

So the question has been asked, how can we prevent a survivor of emotional, physical or sexual abuse from being revictimized? The answer is not so simple. I personally believe it’s a societal problem.

As long as those in leadership positions blame those who have been victimized for the crimes committed against them, it will make it difficult for one to heal, let alone to hold their heads high and say “I survived”.

For those who were victimized as children, they often need to learn how to replace the tapes playing in their heads that they were “bad, dump, dirty little girls or boys”.

Adults who were abused as children often carry an array of symptomologys which can often lead them into patterns of being re-victimized.

It’s widely known in the trauma field that there’s a correlation between those who have been abused as children to those develop such things as low self-esteem, post-traumatic stress disorders, depression, eating disorders, various types addictions, and a whole array of other mental health issues.

When someone has been traumatized, the first 24 - 72 hours are critical for the survivor to share with other’s what happened to them.

If someone was robbed on the street, they would share their story. Would not get blamed.

The truth is, that I am a survivor of child abuse and have been revictimized as an adult. For me, with hindsight I know the answer to why these things happened. Even though my gut was warning me something was wrong, I didn’t pay attention. I rationalized away that ah oh feeling. This is something everyone does, even those who were not abused as children -- but to a lessor degree.

Though we all wish that we could control the universe and never be victimized again, the truth is we can not. But what we can do is to learn how to identify and process our thoughts and feelings, without blaming ourselves if we do get revictimized and to ask for help as often as we want or need to.

Panel members from the workshop at the United Nations Conference on the Status of Women, included
Natsuko Utsumi, Gabriela Nava Campos, Vicki Polin, Jan Kraft, Judy Meikle and Dana Raphael, PhD

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sex Abuse Survivors Being Bullied By SOL Attorney?

By Vicki Polin
Examiner - March 20, 2013

For several years I have been involved in with the movement which was created tochanging the Statue Of Limitations (SOL)for survivors of sex crimes when it came to filing civil suits against their offenders and the organizations that helped to cover up the crimes in various states.
Though I believe it is vitally important to get rid of all SOL's both civilly and criminally, I have so many mixed feelings when it comes to continuing my support of the current movement in making these changes possible. The main reason has to do with the fact that too many survivors have contacted me over the years sharing their experiences regarding a specific attorney who allegedly has been using their position of power to cause immense emotional stress to those who either provided testimony at legislative hearings or wanted to the bill is supposed to.
Whenever a survivor speaks out publicly at workshops, conferences, to the news media or even at legislative hearings -- it is imperative that the survivors be treated with the upmost respect and walk away feeling honored.
Sharing one's story publicly is an extremely difficult thing to do. After asking a survivor to speak out in this way it is critical to follow up with survivors for several weeks if not months -- after sharing such personal information in a public venue -- just to make sure they are OK and that if they are not to do what ever is possible to make sure they get the right type of help if needed.
According to the accounts of countless survivors in several states who came in contact with this particular attorney, several survivors felt demeaned, bullied and totally disrespected. Several survivors described their experience as being "used and abused, and then spit out like trash".
Because of the behavior of this particular attorney several survivors shared that weeks after providing testimony and conversations they had with this particular attorney, they ended up attempting suicide. The problem with this particular attorney has been going on for several years, and because everyone is afraid to do anything to harm the chances of getting the SOL bill passed, no one is willing to speak out publicly about this issue. Because secrecy can be extremely dangerous and potentially deadly (by potential suicide), I am making this note public.
If you or anyone you know felt harmed by this particular attorney, please contact me and I can try to help you find help. There is no shame in asking for help. You did nothing wrong, and should see yourself as a hero for having the courage to providing testimony at a legislative hearing.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

United Nations Conference on the Status of Women: Don’t Remain a Victim! You Can Avoid a Lifetime of Abuse

FREE Workshop
Conference on the Status of Women  - Sponsored by the United Nations

Don’t Remain a Victim!  
You Can Avoid a Lifetime of Abuse
Saturday March 9, 2013
12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.
8th floor Boss Room
The Church Center
777 UN Plaza (E. 44th St. & First Ave.)
New York, NY
Session Organizer:  Dana Raphael, Ph.D.

This Workshop is open to both Men and Women  

People who have experienced physical and mental trauma are more likely to be revictimized throughout life.  Join us for a panel discussion on how the pattern of abuse can be broken, and repeated harm avoided.

Come, sit awhile, and share your burdens . . .


  • Natsuko Utsumi, founder of the nonprofit, Cause Vision, will address "Prevention of Revictimization Through Exposing Human Trafficking.”
  • Judy Meikle, a Quaker and a facilitator of the Alternatives to Violence Project, will speak on “Prison Revictimization from an Abolitionist Perspective.” 
  • Vicki Polin, founder and CEO of The Awareness Center, will talk about the issues facing Jewish survivors of sexual assault and the effects of war atrocities into the second generation.
  • Dana Raphael, Director of The Human Lactation Center, Ltd., will speak on “The Urban Myths That Hurt Everyone.”
  • Gabriela Nava Campos, a specialist in public policy and research, will address “best practices” that organizations can use in order to help victims of human trafficking.
  • Janet Kraft will present “Resources for Recovery,” written by Randy and Pamela Noblitt, co-authors of Ritual Abuse and Torture in the 21st Century.