Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tamar's Story

"Tamar" asked that her story be shared in hopes of helping other survivors who might have a similar experience.  Her name and other identifying details have been changed to protect her identity.

 Several months ago "Tamar" contacted The Awareness Center looking for help.  During the initial conversation she disclosed that she was an incest survivor, who at one time was a baal teshuva (returnee to the Torah observant lifestyle). 

Tamar shared that she started becoming observant at the age of fourteen, after going to an orthodox synagogue with a friend she met at a local JCC.  

As Tamar started learning and taking on various mitzvah's,  and after several months of asking -- her parents finally agreed to let her study at a yeshiva in another state, which was remarkable since her parents were not observant. 

Tamar said she thrived in her new community.  She loved being amongst other frum Jews, up until a few years ago.  Everything changed after a rabbi friend decided to fix her up with one of his cousins. 

At first Tamar was concerned about who the rabbi wanted to fix her up with.  "Epharim" was several years older then her, yet the rabbi really thought that they would make a great couple -- especially since Tamar was getting close to her 30th birthday, which was considered old for a single woman in the orthodox world.  Fearing she would never find a husband, she agreed to meet Ephraim.

Tamar's car broke down earlier in the day of her date with Ephraim.   One of Tamar's friends agreed to dropped her off at a local restaurant and was going to pick her up once Tamar's date was over.  

The date went well and Ephraim offered to give her a ride home.  Tamar agreed.  Unfortunately, Ephraim had other plans.  He said he had to drop something off at friends home, and asked if Tamar would mind going for a brief ride.  She thought it would be OK.  Ephraim drove to an isolated location, stopped the car and sexually assaulted Tamar.

Once Tamar got home she found herself curled up in a ball, sobbing for hours.  She didn't know what to do and was too embarrassed to call one of her friends.  She was afraid they would blame her for getting into the car with a man. 

Suddenly Tamar remembered watching a television show about rape and decided to do what she learned in the movie.  Tamar felt she had no choice but  to call 911, make a police report and have her offender prosecuted.

After learning that Tamar pressed charges against Ephraim, the matchmaking rabbi telephoned her.  In anger he told Tamar that she was "no longer welcome in the community and that it was obvious by her actions, she 

proved that she was bad news for the orthodox world". 

Tamar 's voice shook as she expressed how her whole world crumbled before her.  One by one her long time friends began rejecting her.  These were people she had known and  grown to love since her high school days.  These friends were really the closest thing she ever had to family.  Tamar went on to explain that because of the abuse that went on with her biological family, she had little contact with them in most of the 15 years she lived within the eruv (Jewish community). 

As the weeks went by, Tamar was no longer invited to friends homes for shabbat or for holidays.  She hated going outside her door and seeing how people who she once considered to be her friends, would turn their backs and shun her. 

It took Tamar eight months to save enough money to move away from the only home she really ever knew. 

Tamar's been away from her community for about two years.  To this day she has not been able to walk into synagogue from within any movement of Judaism.  Her fear is that she would  be rejected once again.

Tamar works full time and spends most of her free time working out.  She finds herself shying away from making any new friends. 

She often reflects back on her life and can no longer understand, nor connect to how at one point in her life she loved davening and doing mitzvah's.  These subjects now just brings her to tears -- and states that she feels incredibly betrayed by G-d.  

Tamar has not been able to see past the betrayal and or the denial she experienced from the community she once loved.  Tamar also shared that she toyed with the idea of converting to another faith.

Tamar has been in therapy with a rape therapist, who is not Jewish since she relocated.  She purposely chose someone who does not practice any faith -- because bringing up any form of religion or mention of a higher power has become to painful for her.  Yet from time to time Tamar had found herself "googling" the words "Jewish" and "Rape", to see what resources were out there for Jews.  Doing this is how she originally found The Awareness Center. 

Tamar shared that it took her over a year to send her first e-mail to our organization and another few months to follow it up with a phone call.  

Tamara shared that she read just about every article that was on The Awareness Center's site at least once if not twice; yet she was still too afraid to make the initial phone call because she feared we would be judgemental or reject her -- yet her desire to have some sort of Jewish connection pushed her to send her first e-mail and then followed by a call. 

Tamar asked that The Awareness Center share her story with you, because she is aware that a great deal of our web page is no longer available, nor is our ability to offer a "Friendly line" for survivors due to financial restraints.  

Tamar was hopeful  that sharing her story, that readers would realize how important it is to fund The Awareness Center.  She also is asking that each of you do your best to help save our organization from this economic slump.  

Tamar believes that by making a donation, no matter how small, will help to save other Jewish survivors, like herself from looking elsewhere for a spiritual connection.

If you would like to help The Awareness Center grow, please send your donation check to the address below, or click on our web page and then click on the donate button to show your financial support using a credit card.

The Awareness Center, Inc.
(the international Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault)
P.O. Box 4824
Skokie, IL  60076


TW said...

Tamar kol hakavod for coming forth with your story and for filing a police report. You never know who's life you may have saved because of your brave actions.
As a survivor myself, I applaud your heroism and wish that you find your right path without these bigots and unfortunately poor representatives of a beautiful religion!

Anonymous said...

Tamar you are such a brave woman. I really respect you for having him prosecuted. My hope is that the trial was easy for you and he's locked away forever.

I was raped in Israel many years ago. I was unable to tell anyone what had happened. I haven't never even told my husband, with whom I've been married to for over 20 yers.

I wish I could kill that man for what he did to me. My hope is that he's already dead.

I never learned his name, and the organization he worked for no longer exists. I haven't been able to step foot back in Israel, not since I left in 1971.

Jupiter said...

I have my own story to tell, but I don't want to overshadow Tamar's story. Suffice it to say that I can identify with it and I was abused by my own (ex) husband. I know what it's like to loose dear friends and close family.

I give a lot of credit to women like Tamar for coming forward with her story. Be a survivor, help others, be strong and move up. Don't allow anyone to sever your individual connection to Torah or Hashem. Remember what brought back to Judaism and don't let anyone take that away from you. Be empowered and find it within yourself to come back to your right path and ignite that flame that once burned so true and bright.

Grab the power away from the rapist and rise up above your fears. Hold your head up high. Be confident that you did nothing wrong - no matter what anyone says. Do not turn your back on people, face them forward. It takes trememdous strength, but it can be done. It may not seem like it, but you have all the odds stacked in your favor and I'm betting you will win..

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most powerful stories I've read in a long time.

I'm an FFB. When I was 18 I was raped by my rav. I tried to get help yet after sharing my story with a few friends I started to get shunned.

My parents did their best to help me, and sent me to Ohel. That place is such a joke. In many ways they verbally battered me into silence.

I became so depressed I drove myself out of town and overdosed on my medication. I was fortunate that I was taken to a hospital that had a fantastic trauma program. I mean they really knew what they were doing. I needed to go outside of the eruv and away from frum therapists, who I think harmed me more then helped. Once I did that, really started to heal.

Thank you Tamar for being so brave.

Anonymous said...

It's a powerful story, even if it is not true. Dont let one man ruin your whole life! Move on and move up!