Silence has been given a bad rap.
Silence is meant to be “broken”. “Keeping silent” evokes suspicion, maintaining your “right to silence”, a sure sign of guilt.
The story below is the the second recent headliner here in Israel about a young girl/woman caught in a web of sexual abuse by a group of teens as young as 13. Stories like these reinforce our belief in the menace of silence .
However, after spending a week in silence on a meditation retreat (see Fear of Nothing), I now understand that it is “noise” , not “silence” that is the true threat.
It was not “silence” that birthed the years of suffering this young teen endured; it was noise— noise from society about what it is to be a man or a woman, about love, about sacrifice, media images that confuse sex with love and violence with sex, inner static about her own lack of worth plus whatever lies, promises and threats the boys themselves used to break her mentally and emotionally before they violated her physically. As we say in IMPACT self-defense when the attacker begins his mixed litany of demands, appeals and threats: “Blah-blah-blah”. It’s all noise.
In contrast, when we gently clear away the noise and turn down the static, the resulting silence leaves space for inner wisdom to emerge. It gives us a chance to examine the things we tell ourselves and the things we allow ourselves to absorb from others. It makes it possible for us to see that underneath the noise, we are more than our thoughts, more than our fears, more than our dreams.
The silence that emerges from terrible stories like these must, indeed, be broken. However, if we are to prevent young women from falling prey to the noise that substitutes for their own sense of hope, faith and worth, we need to help them turn down the noise in their lives so they can encounter themselves and learn to accept themselves with the love and compassion they deserve. That we all deserve.
State indicts 13 teens for sexual abuse
March 4, 2010 Thursday
By DAN IZENBERG
15 separate criminal charges filed in assault of high school girl.
As the 13 teenage suspects sat hunched over on courtroom benches and covered their heads and faces with sweatshirt hoods on Wednesday, the state filed an indictment against them that included 15 separate criminal charges.
The indictment was filed in Tel Aviv District Court.
There was a chilling contrast between the dry wording of the charges, drafted by attorneys Livnat Melamed and Lilach Shalom of the Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office (Criminal), and the actions they described.
Regarding the first charge, the prosecutors wrote, “On various occasions, the exact time of which are unknown to the prosecutor, during the period relevant to the indictment, the first defendant routinely brought the complainant to various meeting places. Before that, he would coordinate with the other defendants and others, who would come to the various meeting places with the intent of committing rape, sodomy and indecent acts, all of which were committed without her freely given consent, by exploiting her emotional dependency on the first defendant.”
The first defendant, the so-called boyfriend of “Aleph Aleph,” the victim, was included in 14 of the charges in the indictment. They included 10 counts of rape in aggravated circumstances, four counts of sodomy, four counts of indecent assault, two counts of assault and one count each of attempted rape in aggravated circumstances, being in possession of pornography, and abuse.
According to the indictment, Aleph Aleph and the first defendant first met at school around the beginning of 2006. They were a couple for a while but then broke up and remained friends. At the beginning of 2007 (the beginning of the “relevant period,” which lasted until January 2010), Aleph Aleph told the first defendant that she loved him and that she was dependent on and had very strong feelings for him. She told him she would do anything he wanted as long as he stayed with her. If he left her, she would kill herself.
“In the relevant period,” the indictment continued, “because of her emotional dependence on the first defendant, he abused her by frequently assaulting her illegally by using his hands and feet. He called her names, cursed her, and insulted her in public. He was able to do this by taking advantage of her dependency and love. The other defendants knew about this behavior and in some cases witnessed it.”
The first defendant began inviting friends to rape Aleph Aleph, according to the indictment. In most of the cases, several youths raped her one at a time while the others looked on.
“The defendants knew, and were present, when the first defendant attacked the complainant, either when she asked to stop having sex with one or another of the defendants, or, frequently, in and out of school. The defendants also knew about, and were even present at, incidents in which the first defendant abused Aleph Aleph. They also knew that she was afraid of him and afraid to refuse to have intimate meetings with them for fear that the first defendant would cut off ties with her,” the indictment stated.
One of the lawyers in the case, Asher Chen, told The Jerusalem Post that he was representing one of the defendants who was only being charged on one count, and that his client had witnessed a rape but not taken part in it. He said his client had known Aleph Aleph for only two months and had met her after she’d left the school she and the first defendant had attended together.
Attorney Avi Hilmi told the Post he was representing a client charged with two counts of sodomy and one count of rape in aggravated circumstances.
Hilmi added that several of the defendants had only known Aleph Aleph for a short time. However, several others apparently knew the complainant from the beginning of the “relevant period.” One of them was charged with 12 sexual violations and another with 10.
In one case, the first defendant was charged with the attempted rape of Aleph Aleph’s best friend, identified in the indictment as “Bet Bet.” The charge also included sodomy and committing an indecent act. He was also accused of taking a total of NIS 2,000 to NIS 3,000 from Aleph Aleph, as well as her cellular phone, which he used to make calls at her expense. In another charge, he was accused of being in possession of pedophilic photographs.