Sunday, December 28, 2008

Should The Awareness Center Continue on?

Should The Awareness Center Continue on?
The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter - December 28, 2008 

December 28, 2008 -- Each year around this time The Awareness Center asks you -- individuals from Jewish Communities around the globe -- to evaluate whether or not we have made a difference in the lives of Jewish survivors of sexual violence, their family members and also family members of those who offend. If the answer is yes -- we ask that you remember us when making you year end donations.

Over the last eight years The Awareness Center volunteers have communicated with thousands of individuals who disclosed deep dark secrets they have been too afraid to share and yet somehow have finally found the courage to do so. We listened to each survivor, family member or friend of a survivor's horror stories -- and did our best to offer them hope, healing and concrete ways of helping each individual's particular needs.

The Awareness Center has been shining a light on the issues and ramifications faced by almost all survivors. We have been actively educating Jewish communities about sexual abuse and assault -- including the signs and symptoms of an abused child or that of an adult survivors and the long term ramifications sex crime have been playing on our communities. We did all we could to try to protect and prevent one more child from becoming the next victim of a sex crime -- and to offer a helping hand to those who have already been hurt. The goal has always been to offer hope and healing to a group of individuals who have been silenced for all to long.

One of our most popular venues we have for helping has been our web page. It's been a catalyst for finding hope and healing for those who have been too afraid to call directly to find help. Our web page also offers a way for those interested to come learn and participate in our online self-help and networking groups. For many survivors it's been a place in which they have learned for the first time that they're not alone, aren't the only ones, aren't at fault. If use indicated needs, then it might be helpful to share here that our site averages over 600,000 hits per month. Per MONTH. That is millions of hits a year, from those looking for help in Jewish communities internationally.

Interestingly, come Shabbat or Jewish Holidays the hits drop significantly, only to go up again after the Shabbat or holiday is over. This tells us that many of those utilizing our web page might be observant, "shomer shabbat." It tells us that there are many in the observant communities who need our support and are seeking in a way that feels safe to them and when they can.

If one looks at statistics from the general population, one of every four adults would have been sexually abused by the time they reached the age of eighteen. With upward of five millions Jews living in the US, even conservative odds imply that there are over one million Jewish survivors in our communities. Add to that the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics of close to five and half million Jews living in Israel, and we might well have over another million of Jewish survivors of sexual abuse in our homeland. With additional Jews scattered about the world, the probably numbers of survivors among us add up, with the total of Jewish survivors of sexual abuse and assault numbering in the millions.

We of The Awareness Center--The Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse and Assault (J-CASA)--know that saving one soul of Israel is as if one saved a whole world. What if we were to help heal millions of wounded souls? We know you know it is important. Will you help us?

In addition to individual support, education via website materials and online networking groups/listserves, our volunteers have been working tirelessly on behalf of the many who need healing and support:

Over the last twelve months members of our organization provided testimony at legislative hearings across the United States in hopes of helping increase or abolish the statute of limitations and offering "windows" on filing civil suits against their offenders -- which in turn helps to publicly name those who be continuing to committing heinous criminal sexual acts against our children. This would also finally offer those who have been victimized their day in court.

During 2008, The Awareness Center added several educational events to the list of activities and outreach, including the showing of the film "Narrow Bridge" in both Washington DC and in Baltimore, MD; were represented at several conferences including an event at the JCC in Wilmington, DE and another in New York. We also held a press conference in Brooklyn to help shine a light and offer our support and some measure of protection to Rabbi Nochem Rosenberg--a brave whistle blower about abuse in his Satmar community of Williamsburg (Brooklyn, NY) --who was 'rewarded' for his courage to support the survivors and provide them with a hotline from his very home to call in to, by being threatened at knife-point and gunpoint, then actually shot at.

We had a busy year, and plans for the upcoming year are already forming. We hope to have monthly educational, self-help, and networking meetings in Baltimore, New York, and Chicago for those interested in meeting others with similar interests and experiences, and for those interested in learning more about how to help support survivors, protect our communities, and heal those among us who'd been harmed. Our goal is to help foster a dialog among community members and to help teach those who are willing to, to advocate for themselves and/or others. Our plans include opening branches of The Awareness Center in several locations in New York State (Monsey, Long Island; and Brooklyn, NY), as well as in Lakewood, NJ, Chicago, IL, and Los Angeles, CA.

There is much to be done, and we are willing to do it. However, we cannot do it or remain open without your help: we need additional volunteers and we need your financial support.

Our statistics speak for themselves: thousands of survivors supported, 600,000 hits per month, growing interest and willingness to explore this difficult topic. But we cannot do this without you.

Please help. Please remember us in your year end donations. Funds can be sent to us on line using a credit card by clicking on the donation button at the top of this page or by sending a check or money order to:

The Awareness Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 4824
Skokie, IL 60076

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