Wednesday, July 12, 2017

I didn’t realize how many communities and organizations have allowed this to happen...

I Didn’t Realize

I didn’t realize that ten minutes could change someone’s life permanently.

I didn’t realize the harm that could be caused by someone who abuses a child.

I didn’t realize that the person who I had come to befriend had battled with suicidal thoughts and attempts for my whole lifetime.

I didn’t realize that when I first went up to Albany to advocate for the Child Victim’s Act, that I would see the world and certainly people differently.

I didn’t realize how long, deep, and permanent the damage is of children who have been abused.

I didn’t realize the extent of the problem.

I didn’t realize that it was systemic.

I didn’t realize how many communities and organizations have allowed this to happen.

I didn’t realize that most children have no idea that they are being abused nor that they had been abused until age 40.

I didn’t realize that New York State only allows until age 23 for a young adolescent to prosecute their aggressor.

I didn’t realize how uncomfortable it makes people to talk about abuse.

I didn’t realize.

But now I do.

New York State is one of the two states with the worst laws for children who have been sexually abused. Currently, individuals have until age 23 to file a claim against their abuser. The Child Victim’s Act would extend the statue to age 28 in criminal cases and age 50 in civil ones. But the bill has been stalled from coming to a vote on the New York Senate floor for more than a decade.
We are not protecting these victims.

This year, Governor Cuomo has made his support known to all. The State Assembly passed the CVA. The last hurdle was the state senate.

What stands in the way? According to what I’ve gathered from Assembly people and their staff on multiple trips to Albany this year, it is the Religious Right. Our own.

Large institutions on the Religious Right fear the number of claims that would be filed against them by adults who were abused as children if the statue were to be extended to age 28 or 50. These institutions have silently (or, not so silently) put pressure on the senate to prevent the bill from coming to a vote.

If you didn’t realize, now you do. It takes a village to enable child sex abuse.

Please do not stand by silently. Contact your New York State Senate representative and urge them to bring the Child Victim’s Act to a vote during the senate’s next session.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was a camper at Agudah in the summers of (best recollection) ’67, ’68 and ’69. I remember Rabbi Borchart bellowing on the dining room PA system unconvincingly, “There will be no Color War this year,” and I remember the teams from one summer as being Ahavah vs. Yirah, and another as Zekainim vs. Naarim. At the end of that Color War we learned a song composed specially for the occasion, “Zekainim Im Naarim Yihallilu Es Shem Hashem.”

During one of those summers my bunk was located in the multi-story building, and the picnic tables where our daily learning sessions took place were not far away. One morning I left my group to use the bathroom near my bunk, and an older guy (a camper, I think from another bunk) appeared out of nowhere and pulled me into his room. He pinned me down on a bottom-level bed and started forcibly kissing me. He touched me through my clothes, which was both painful and ticklish. I was obviously too young to understand the nature of what was happening. I remember feeling that the kissing was disgusting, having no idea as to why a man would kiss another man. I was physically incapable of freeing myself and was terrified. And then he just stopped and got up. He told me leave and not to tell anyone about this or he would kill me. I couldn’t believe what had happened, and just returned to my group, shell-shocked. I quickly put the matter out of my mind, somehow reassuring myself that it was a strange, inexplicable occurrence. A few days or weeks later it happened again, the exact same way, only this time rougher and more violent. And again, I was cautioned to talk to no one. After that second time I do recall telling someone, I don’t remember who. I think he was from that guy’s bunk. I remember him laughing knowingly and saying I was lucky he stopped. He told me the guy did this all the time. From that point forward I was mindful to never go back to my building when it was unoccupied. I told nobody else about any of this, certainly not my counselor. I don’t think I knew how or that I would be believed. And I was scared. And amid all the camp activities it was soon forgotten.

I am not from New York and am not hooked into local news. It was only about two years ago when I was reading for the first time about the charges against Yiddi Kolko, that I recognized his name from my summers at Agudah. I don’t remember his position, but I remember he was a “macher.” I remember a song about him and a guy named Zorch, the lyrics being “Zorch and Yiddi, what a pity...”

And then, like a bolt of lightning, all the memories described above came flooding back. Those events were completely out of my consciousness all these years as though they never happened. And now the recollections were crystal clear. I was stunned; this whole concept of suppressed memories was actually real – because it indeed happened to me. I was raped.

Is any of this responsible for F’ing up my life? I don’t really know, but I can tell you that I just turned 60, and my encounters that summer were the first and last time I was ever intimate with anyone.