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MAILBAG: The Frum World’s Discomfort Has Made My Story And Anguish A Taboo Subject

Dear Frum World,

I am writing to you filled with the feelings of rejection and ostracization that only a survivor (of childhood abuse) trying to live in the frum community experiences.

People tell me I cannot speak about my experiences because it’s “not tznius;” “people can’t handle it;” “it’s inappropriate;” “that doesn’t happen in our community;” “it’s a lie;” “it’s uncomfortable;” “everyone goes through struggles and pain- you don’t need to shout yours from the rooftops,” etc., etc. 

Please. I get it. If you think it’s uncomfortable to hear it, imagine what it’s like to have to live it.

But, if you can’t handle hearing about it, how can I be expected to handle living it? You say that you do see me and those like me as a ben/bas melech; but how can that be true when you don’t take the time to know me and see me for what my experiences have made me?

Don’t you see how the more reasons you find to ignore (at best) and run away (at worst) from my story, the more rejected and abandoned I feel?  And all this is over things that were done to me, in circumstances I was born into. And I have fought tooth and nail to be the better person despite it all.

When you cringe or shirk away from my history because of your discomfort, or whatever justification you give yourself, you tell me that part of me is unacceptable. Besides for the pain and rejection this causes me, don’t you see how that perpetuates abuse? The more discomfort that you create around these issues, the more comfort you create for the abusers, because they know they can get away with their actions with impunity.

I hope I have made it clear why survivors in the frum world experience the feelings of rejection and ostracization I mentioned earlier. Perhaps worst of all, these feelings are mostly a result of everyone curling in upon themselves in discomfort in an attempt to protect themselves from a life like mine. But because of the few who say damaging things, the masses appear to be in agreement with the few who speak their minds.

Please try to hear me and see me – the full package of ME – when next you encounter me. I keep searching for somewhere I can belong, but so far the frum world has not accepted me. 


A Struggling Ben Melech

The views expressed in this letter do not necessarily represent those of YWN. Have an opinion you would like to share? Send it to us for review. 

8 Responses

  1. Dear brother, child, sibling Ben Melech,
    PLEASE ask for my contact details from YWN, Bez”h I should be to comfort your bleeding heart . .

    Looking forward to hear from you.

  2. I was really disappointed to hear your story. It does not have to be like that at all.
    In Israel, we have much help for abuse survivors, I don’t feel any stigma for victims.
    Yes, many people expect discretion, but you can find friends who are willing to listen and of course your therapist is there for you to say as explicitly as you like.
    So, let’s try not to judge the weak people who can’t handle the subject and honor (somehow) their wishes of not hearing details they can’t/don’t want to hear.
    I suspect that the ghost of the one who caused the pain makes you feel that everyone is on ‘his side’, but that is not true. Most people just are scared to face the truth – they are also victims of this blemish on our community.
    The main thing is to find people who can and will support you, and there are plenty of them, you just have to look!
    In the future I hope that you will not see yourself as a survivor 24/7, and feel more confidant in growing a fuller identity that includes also just being a regular community member who can enjoy life.
    Of course, when it comes to stopping current abuse there is no room to be hesitant and one must find brave askanim (or police) to protect our community immediately.

  3. I think you may find Ray of hope a helpful resource. It’s a support group for survivors, a safe place where ppl will ” get you”!

    In general tho, I think ppl struggle with just listening and being there for others, we love to help practically but with this situation there is not much ppl can do to help besides just being there at your side, which takes skill!

  4. I hate to sound practical , but exactly what is it that u want from the avg man in shul? What means not accepted,
    Do u want me to say it’s my fault
    Do u want money
    Do u want sheeshee
    Or do u want me to start reading books so I fully understand how bad it is
    So now this proves that I really don’t get “it”. How can I, and what benefit is there

  5. I’m not sure where we’re going with this letter. If you speak out clearly the issue will be do we believe you. Not that we don’t want to hear it. I think the community wants to hear it with all its details. So we know how to eradicate this disease and bring the perps to justice. But believing you is an entirely different story. One doesn’t bear a right to automatic credibility just because he calls himself a victim. Especially when someone else’s life is on the line. Your story would need to be verified or corroborated to ensure that we don’t effectively ruin someone’s life unjustly. But once that process is complete and your story is verified I think major action will be taken by the community that will be of great solace to you. Meanwhile I understand how painful it must be to suffer alone and in silence. Please stay strong and keep talking and don’t listen to anyone who tells you it’s not tznius or other dumb things like that.

  6. Dear Ben Melech,
    I am here for you as well. Somehow I feel I will meet with you… But if i dont PEASE get my contact from YWN and reachout!

  7. Your story is so painful. Yes there are a bad people and people who take advantage of the vulnerable amongst us: sometimes it’s the spouse and sometimes it’s children. Your story and the way you presented it is sadly true. I detect the hidden details and you are to be commended for keeping up your faith in Hashem and in people although sometimes you might feel like you’re naive.
    You must though also agree that children, especially children have amazing ways of concocting stories and some are even quite believable. They can though ruin and destroy other people’s lives, especially rebbis and moros who they don’t like and wish to hurt. They do make up stories and sometimes they’re even believed and the fictitious villain suffers irreparable damage. It could ruin his/her children’s lives and even affect their shidduchim prospects. It does happen and thus far, far too many err on the side of safety and just poo-poo their stories.
    Having stated the scenarios above, the stories from people like you, the real victims, often don’t get the necessary attention.
    I feel awful for you and at the same time, I am amazed at your positive attitude to go forward nonetheless! Keep it up! You’re shooting for the stars – it’s obvious, and you will be a star! Kol Hakavod for writing your letter.

  8. not everything needs to be publicized. why is this hard to understand?
    was there no healthy way to handle abuse before mass media?
    and, why do you think mass media is a necessary part of your story?

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