Sunday, February 23, 2014

Blaming the Victim

Jamie and John are new converts to Judaism. After our third meeting together, Jamie sent me the following and asked me if I would share it with you. It was written before she and her husband discovered the Breslev Israel website and made contact with us.  Of course their names and other personal details have been changed in order to safeguard their privacy:
It started for me as a child, when I was repeatedly used and abused by men in my own nuclear and extended family. My life was a living hell full of sexual, emotional, verbal and physical abuse. Yet according to my former "religion," all my abusers had to do was declare: 'G-d was their Lord and Savior,' and then they could continue to act like the devil that they claimed was controlling them. Nothing was their fault. All they needed to do was 'claim the blood of JC' and they were forgiven for what they did to me, regardless of how many times they continued to do it. When I was only three or four years old I remember crying out to G-d to 'please let my father think I was sleeping so he would leave me alone this time' -  of course he never did.  
As an abuse survivor I felt inherently 'bad' even when I hadn't done anything wrong. I also felt incredible guilt that I was unable to so easily forgive  the many people who abused me. I felt rejected by G-d and doomed to hell because I had been told 'if you do not forgive others, G-d will not forgive you.' In my former 'religion' I was taught that 'if people abuse you, just turn the other cheek and let them abuse you some more.' This made me furious with G-d! How dare He expect me to love and forgive the people who were hurting me over and over again and who didn't show the slightest feeling of guilt for what they did to me! The abuse that I suffered was so severe that all of my therapists asked me the same question: 'how did you survive it!' 
Today, as a result of the abuse that I experienced,  I cannot be left alone without feeling overwhelming panic and anxiety. My husband and I are literally joined at the hip. I can't do anything without him next to me. I feel like a dependent little child. I have no joy, satisfaction or sense of accomplishment from my life and I've been living this way for years. In addition, I can't separate myself emotionally from my parents without my feeling sorry for them - despite their never having taken responsibility for what they did to me. My parents expect me to deny what happened  and when I don't, they treat me like I'm the crazy one! 
Jamie has been in extended psychotherapies on numerous occasions and yet after only three sessions of coaching based on the teachings of Rabbi Arush, she has broken though her sense of helpless dependence on her husband, has shown the ability to be alone and has even driven places by herself for the first time in years. Jamie has also decided to break off contact with her parents, at least for now.  Jamie is now feeling very close to G-d and is seeing signs of His love for her everywhere. Her mood has become very elevated and optimistic.
As I'm writing this, Jamie is only about half way through theGarden of Emuna, yet she is already growing at supersonic speed.  Here's one example: Jamie and John recently borrowed money from John's father to buy a business that had been losing money for a long time. After our last meeting, on her own, Jamie decided to shave off her hair (which was "seen by other men") and grow new hair that only her husband will see. She has done this despite having been Jewish for only several months. Jamie now proudly covers her head despite being the only woman in her synagogue that does so. She feels a purity and cleanliness that is practically euphoric. When Jamie's neighbors saw her with her head covered, they thought that she was in chemotherapy, G-d forbid. This just made Jamie laugh.
Literally from the first day that Jamie covered her hair, there has been an explosion of new customers coming into their store.Jamie and her husband are feeling so grateful to Hashem for their livelihood that they also decided to close the business on Shabbos from now.
Jamie now writes: Continue reading here...

Also see:

By Rabbi Shalom Arush - Fear of Animals

By Rabbi Lazer Brody - Equal Opportunity Mitzvoth

By Captain David Ruderman, Chaplain, U.S. Army - The Fifth Jump

By Rivka Levy - Taking Responsibility

With blessings,
Dr. Zev Ballen