A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
A wonderful post from The Strength Within.
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.
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.
Parents in Israel are used to fighting for the security of their children, but the battlefield keeps shifting. Not that the days of parents warning children to stay away from suspicious packages and people wearing strange clothing that might conceal bombs. However, a glance at the latest news or the latest edition of David Morris’s blog Tzedek-Tzedek (see below) reminds us that there are dangers lurking in what should be the safest places on Earth- right inside our homes.
Yes, Virginia, Internet predators and pedophiles chat in Hebrew too.
Parenting has always been hard work. It used to be that at least we could fantasize that if we locked our children in our homes and threw away the keys, they’d be safe. Now, the Internet brings the outside world right in. We can no longer afford the illusion that we’re in control, that we can somehow keep our children and teens blissfully ignorant AND out of harm’s way.
My mother tells me that the first time she gave me permission to ride my bicycle off of our street, she stood by the window crying until she saw me riding home. By the time I came in the door, she had taken out an onion and started cutting it so I would think her tears were caused by the onion, not her fears for my safety. We all have to find our “onions”, our ways to keep from infecting our children with our fears. But we owe it to them to give them the tools they need to be as free AND as safe as possible in the world they live in— the Cyber world as well as the “real” one.
So, here’s a place to begin: some advice to share with the youngsters in your life about staying safe while chatting online
OK everyone! Grab those onions, go in there and help somebody you love stay safe.
Police lifted a gag order Monday detailing the arrest of 33-year-old Avinoam Braverman, of Tel Aviv, alleged to have contacted some 1,000 minors, engaging some in virtual sex in front of web cams and of raping, sodomizing and molesting others, as well as possession and distribution of child pornography,…http://www.jpost.com/Headlines/Article.aspx?id=167472
In a society which promotes loyal monogamy as being the ideal sexual relationship – one partner for each of us – the popular assumption is that one pedophile will also approximate to one child victim.
Very few of us are aware that research has consistently shown that (and this is staggering) around one in four girls and one in six boys has been sexually abused by the age of 18. (Russell, 1986; confirmed also Gorey & Leslie 1997; Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis & Smith 1989; Brier & Elliot, 2003).
And in the sole major survey amongst Jewish orthodox women (Yehuda et al, 2007), 26% of the women surveyed reported sexual abuse, with 16% reporting the abuse occurred by the age of thirteen. In other words, sexual abuse of females is consistent with the findings for the general population. (Some have suggested that the number of male victims may be higher in the orthodox community, because access is far less restricted in orthodox communities than for males on females – but there has been no scientific survey yet on this).
This startlingly high incidence of child abuse victims, in all populations, however does not mean that this proportion of adults (between one in four, to one in six) are pedophiles.
There have been various distinctions drawn (R.Weiss, 2009) on the characteristics of pedophiles, including these categories:
The majority (85%) of child sex offenders are in the second category; these offenders can often be successfully treated through therapy. Sexual addiction (category 3) is a quite common psychological condition affecting between 3-5 % of the general population; very few of these people resort to non-consensual sex; treatment for this addictive behavior has been often found successful.
The most damaging pedophiles, in terms of numbers of victims, are the dedicated or fixated child offenders; they will often achieve positions of access, trust and authority over children, such as becoming sports coaches, summer camp or youth group supervisors, babysitters, clerics or educators – specifically in order to gain unfettered access to their victims. Some will even marry a partner who already has children, for this same reason. The perpetrators develop sophisticated ‘grooming’ techniques (sometimes in collusion with other pedophiles) and in practice they know that only very few children will ever register formal complaints against these perpetrators (sometimes the children do not become consciously aware that they were even abused until they reach adulthood themselves), so the numbers of their victims over a pedophile’s ‘career’ (which can continue through their senior years) can reach staggering proportions. There is little prospect of these pedophiles being ‘cured’ by available therapies, and recidivism (repeat offense) rates are high (around 75% of convicted child sex offenders).
A study by Abel et al32 of 377 nonincarcerated, non-incest-related pedophiles, whose legal situations had been resolved and who were surveyed using an anonymous self-report questionnaire, found that heterosexual pedophiles on average reported abusing 19.8 children and committing 23.2 acts, whereas homosexual pedophiles had abused 150.2 children and committed 281.7 acts
Another study (Baker) concluded that men who chose girls, generally victimized relatively few while a man who preys on non-related boys “will victimize as many as 280 male victims”.
These studies confirm law enforcement reports about the serial nature of the crime, the large number of children abused by each pedophile, and the underreporting of assaults.
What appears different from the ‘classic’ behavior patterns of pedophiles in the Braverman case is the alleged extensive use of the internet and messaging technologies, and his targeting of multiple young girls.
However, that Braverman was apparently able to readily reach so many actual and prospective victims, seemingly without multiple reports by either the child victims or their parents to the authorities – is deeply shocking, but unfortunately not unusual.
Oh, Leah. Leah, I wish we could have met before this happened. You see, most of the 15 year-old girls I meet are students in the 16- hour IMPACT Teen Classes we teach. You would probably have felt right at home with us.
Maybe, had you been there, you would have trusted those first signals that no doubt, began to rise in your gut when Dorosham gave you and your friends a ride. We talk a lot about the importance of honoring your instincts. Maybe you would have gotten out of the car with your friends rather than staying alone with a man your instincts told you not to trust.
Once he got you alone, you still had the strength and the conviction to tell him you didn’t want to sleep with him. A 15 year-old girl all alone facing down a 23 year-old man. That took amazing courage . I only wish you had had the chance to learn the kind of skills we teach so you would have been able to back up your conviction.
Maybe you would have known how to keep facing him and keep him out of your personal space. Maybe you would have startled him by yelling “BACK OFF!!! and had the presence of mind to push the emergency number on your cellphone.
If he didn’t listen to you, maybe you would have dropped to the sand in that well-practiced defensive ground position- one knee protecting your head and your other leg drawn back like a coiled snake, ready to strike. If he tried to come near you, that coiled leg would have shot out and hit him so hard between the legs, he might have crumpled to the ground. He might have gone down to his knees only to receive a devastating kick to the head and another and another… until he was no longer a threat.
You might have walked away, Leah. Maybe you would have used your cellphone to call the police. It would have been HIM, not you, that they would have found lying on Hill 69. He might have been dragged off to jail where he belonged and you might have gone home to your family…where you belong.
Instead, Leah, you are lying in a fresh grave in the Ashkelon Cemetary. Your family is broken. Your friends are in mourning. And all of us are left asking ourselves “What if…?”
The next IMPACT for Teens Course I teach, Leah, I will look into the eyes of those 15 young women and I will think of you. I will hope that none of them will ever need the skills we will teach them, but I will remember that each one of them represents a chance to rewrite the ending of tragic stories like yours: a chance you deserved but never had.
Hundreds of relatives and friends of 15-year-old Leah Drenkin gathered at an Ashkelon cemetery on Thursday afternoon to pay their last respects to the murdered teenager.
Police believe Nikolai Dorosham, 26, strangled Drenkin in a clearing on Hill 69, near Nitzanim, early on Wednesday, because she refused to have sexual intercourse with him. He has been arrested and charged with murder.
Drenkin’s grandmother, tearful and dazed, crawled on the grave, as dozens of Drenkin’s sobbing friends from high school gathered around, wearing black T-shirts.
Her father shook as he scattered earth over his daughter’s grave.
“She was a flower that was cut down,” Esther Oren, principal of the high school Drenkin attended, told The Jerusalem Post after the funeral.
“Every parent would want a girl like her. She was social, polite, she excelled in her studies. And she was pretty. The teachers are in shock,” Oren said.
Psychologists have been called to the school to offer support to Drenkin’s schoolmates.
“We do not live in a normal world. Leah, I think of what you went through during those terrible hours. I am sorry we could not save you,” Oren told the mourners.
“Just when the whole of the nation of Israel is supposed to focus on unconditional love ahead of Yom Kippur, we get this news,” said Eli Efrah, head of Ashkelon’s Burial Society.
“This is a tragedy for the city of Ashkelon, and for all people with blood running through their veins. We have enough trouble from outside of the country. We don’t need it inside…”
July 14, 2009: This morning, prosecutors issued a serious indictment in the Youth Court in Rehovot against three 16 year old girls, city residents, accusing them of physically abusing their good friend, a 17 year-old girl. They are accused of holding a knife against her throat, extinguishing cigarettes on her skin and threatening to kill her, all because they suspected her of being romantically involved with the boyfriend of one of the accused.
Seedy, isn’t it?
There is something deeply disturbing about seeing young people in Israel- particularly young women- sliding into depraved indifference. We’re talking about a society in which people still stop to pick up hitchhikers and money is passed hand-to-hand from the back of the bus to the front to pay the fare!
But come on. Israel is not Biblical Disneyland, anymore than it is the Evil Empire (though there are those who seem determined to characterize it that way). It is a real country with real people who have real problems. It’s a modern Western culture, with all the good and bad that goes with that. At the same time, it is a crossroads, a fault line where modern and traditional , the Middle East and the West meet and sometimes clash.
Israel has its crime families and its everyday heroes, its crooked politicians and its straight-as-an-arrow idealists. It has its stereotypes and it has its stereotype breakers… And aren’t teens everywhere somehow compelled to fill that role?
I helped instruct two IMPACT Self-Defense for Teens courses over the last several months: one in Beersheva for a group of 18-19 year old girls from the Ethiopian community and one in the Etzion Bloc for a group of 14-17 year olds referred through the local “Social Welfare” Office. I was expecting stereotypical At-Risk Teens. At-Risk Teens generally arrive late if at all with a life-is-tough-but-I’m-tougher attitude. Winning them over is half the battle. The staff was pumped and ready. Yet, as it turned out, each of these girls was more helpful, polite and appreciative than the next. Not at all what we expected.
I guess it all serves as a reminder to constantly re-examine our assumptions and maintain the flexibility we need to deal with people as they are, not as we wish they were, nor as we fear they might be.
As for the victim of the incident described above, a few pieces of advice: 1) stay away from your friends’ crushes, 2) get yourself some new friends and 3) take a good self-defense course. You are lucky to have gotten out of this in one piece. We’d like to help you stay that way.