Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jewish Survivors of Sexual Abuse/Assault are NEVER ALONE!

© (2010) Photographs by Vicki Polin

Yesterday while going on my daily walk I took the following photographs that I put up on YouTube. As I was taking them I kept hearing the song "Castle of the King" in my head and started thinking about the hundreds or maybe thousands of Jewish Survivors I've spoken to over the years. So many of those who have been sexually abuse/assaulted shared with me how they felt as if they didn't fit within any Jewish community. Many stating that they felt that because they were sexually violated that their communities saw them as damaged goods, not worthy of being apart of a place they once felt was home. Others felt as if they were just outcasts or misfits.

As we all know, so many Jewish survivors of sex crimes have walked away from observing in the way they once did, stopped practicing altogether or have converted to other faiths. Every time I hear the song "Castle of the King" I'm reminded of this plight; for that reason I am dedicating this film clip to them, to let them know that they do belong, that they are loved and are not ALONE!

I hope you find this film clip healing!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Vicki Polin: Semi Finalist in the 2010 - Jewish Community Heroes Award

Vicki Polin announced as a Semi Finalist in the 2010 - Jewish Community Heroes Award  
Jewish Federation of North America - October 21, 2010


Announcing the Semifinalists!

Thanks to everyone who voted in the Second Annual Jewish Community Heroes Campaign. The results were overwhelming. We received over 300,000 votes for more than 200 nominees!

Your votes decided the 20 semifinalists and now it’s up to our distinguished panel of judges to select the 5 finalists - all of whom receive a Heroes grant.

The judges will evaluate the semifinalists based on their efforts to strengthen the Jewish community and uphold the ideals of tikkun olam - repairing the world.

The 2010 Jewish Community Hero of the Year will be announced at the JFNA General Assembly in New Orleans from November 7-9.

Tell your friends and family who this year's semifinalists are.

2010 Jewish Community Heroes campaign semifinalists

  1. Mordechai Tokarsky
  2. Jay Feinberg
  3. Lori Palatnik
  4. Rabbi Celso Cukierkorn
  5. Stephen Kutner
  6. Dmitriy Salita
  7. Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel
  8. Margie Klein
  9. Jodi Samuels
  10. Zvi Gluck
  11. Pinny Lipshutz
  12. Yisroel Bernath
  13. Rabbi Dovid Goldstein
  14. Ira Bleiweiss
  15. Rivkee Rudolph
  16. Laura Baum
  17. Vicki Polin
  18. Ed Case
  19. Fred Taub
  20. Daniel Aldrich


Monday, October 18, 2010

6 Stages of Grooming - Child Sexual Abuse

6 Stages of Grooming - Child Sexual Abuse
By Dr. Michael Welner  - October 18, 2010

Grooming is the process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. The shrouding of the relationship is an essential feature of grooming. Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner explains the six stages that can lead up to sexual molestation.

The grooming sex offender works to separate the victim from peers, typically by engendering in the child a sense that they are special to the child and giving a kind of love to the child that the child needs.

Different law enforcement officers and academics have proposed models of the "stages" of grooming. Since there are a variety of these models, it's best to think of the grooming by sex offenders as a gradual, calculated process that ensnares children into a world in which they are ultimately a willing part of the sex abuse.

Stage 1: Targeting the victim

The offender targets a victim by sizing up the child's vulnerability—emotional neediness, isolation and lower self-confidence. Children with less parental oversight are more desirable prey.

Stage 2: Gaining the victim's trust

The sex offender gains trust by watching and gathering information about the child, getting to know his needs and how to fill them. In this regard, sex offenders mix effortlessly with responsible caretakers because they generate warm and calibrated attention. Only more awkward and overly personal attention, or a gooey intrusiveness, provokes the suspicion of parents. Otherwise, a more suave sex offender is better disciplined for how to push and poke, without revealing themselves. Think of the grooming sex offender on the prowl as akin to a spy—and just as stealth.

Stage 3: Filling a need

Once the sex offender begins to fill the child's needs, that adult may assume noticeably more importance in the child's life and may become idealized. Gifts, extra attention, affection may distinguish one adult in particular and should raise concern and greater vigilance to be accountable for that adult.

Stage 4: Isolating the child

The grooming sex offender uses the developing special relationship with the child to create situations in which they are alone together. This isolation further reinforces a special connection. Babysitting, tutoring, coaching and special trips all enable this isolation.

A special relationship can be even more reinforced when an offender cultivates a sense in the child that he is loved or appreciated in a way that others, not even parents, provide. Parents may unwittingly feed into this through their own appreciation for the unique relationship.

Stage 5: Sexualizing the relationship

At a stage of sufficient emotional dependence and trust, the offender progressively sexualizes the relationship. Desensitization occurs through talking, pictures, even creating situations (like going swimming) in which both offender and victim are naked. At that point, the adult exploits a child's natural curiosity, using feelings of stimulation to advance the sexuality of the relationship.

When teaching a child, the grooming sex offender has the opportunity to shape the child's sexual preferences and can manipulate what a child finds exciting and extend the relationship in this way. The child comes to see himself as a more sexual being and to define the relationship with the offender in more sexual and special terms.

Stage 6: Maintaining control
Once the sex abuse is occurring, offenders commonly use secrecy and blame to maintain the child's continued participation and silence—particularly because the sexual activity may cause the child to withdraw from the relationship.

Children in these entangled relationships—and at this point they are entangled—confront threats to blame them, to end the relationship and to end the emotional and material needs they associate with the relationship, whether it be the dirt bikes the child gets to ride, the coaching one receives, special outings or other gifts. The child may feel that the loss of the relationship and the consequences of exposing it will humiliate and render them even more unwanted.

Forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner has worked on some of the most sensitive cases in America in recent years, from Andrea Yates to the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. He is the lead researcher of an evidence-based measure to standardize the worst of crimes at Dr. Welner is an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and is chairman of The Forensic Panel.


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Friday, October 15, 2010

Women Have Legs

Women Have Legs
By Michael J. Salamon
Times of Israel - October 15, 2012

An acquaintance e-mailed me a photographed copy of a pashkvil, an alert, posted on a street corner in a neighborhood that is in an open community. While there are many religious people who live there the community is also home to individuals not as religious and even members of other religions. He assured me that what he sent me is real and not photo shopped. The alert reads:
“Dear Sisters, Please be aware that when schmoozing at this corner, the streetlight shines straight on you, thereby making the nisoyon (challenge) for men passing by far greater!!
By stepping away a few steps you will be stepping away from all troubles and merit a … good year… in the zichus of tznius.

This poster, assuming its veracity, is not unique. Other similarly worded posters pop up all over with increasing frequency, but what is often overlooked is that this approach to what they refer to as tznius is symptomatic of a problem that will only exacerbate sexual tensions and sexual addictions. Some would see posters such as this one as a major step toward enforcing the kind of total gender segregation that was seen in Mea Shearim on Chol Hamoed Sukkot. The slow creep of rationalizing this form of tznius as the only rational approach actually leads to significant issues in sexual acting out even abuse. Specifically there are two issues that are misunderstood and create an even more challenging problem for the religious community. They are:  who is responsible for proper behavior and the mis-focusing on sexuality.

Proper behavior is both a Halachic and social requirement that is placed on all people not just women. Those who place posters of this nature seem to believe that only women have the responsibility of proper sexual etiquette. Men, according to this approach have no reason to be accountable if they have inappropriate thoughts when seeing a woman. Worse still it allows a man the excuse of acting on his inappropriate thoughts and placing the blame on his victim. The blame first and always appears to be placed on women. This is precisely the issue that led a young religious man to my consultation room when he mistakenly believed he might be mentally ill because he thought that he was becoming aroused whenever he rode a bus or train. He initially railed against the women on those modes of public transportation for giving him bad thoughts. He had no concept of self-control when it came to his own sexuality. His most memorable line was “The women have legs and you can see them.” I asked what he felt about women dressing up completely covered, as in a burka. He had no clear objection to the idea. I pointed out to him that both men and women are created with natural desires and the human responsibility, not just woman’s, is to learn to control and channel those drives. The general concept was not a foreign one. He understood that he would rather go shopping then learn in the Beit Midrash and that he had to channel the drive to learn, but he had a difficult time applying the model to ideas about women and sexuality. He was reared with the idea that he was responsible only for certain of his behaviors and blame others for his sexual ideas. Pashkvilim such as the one I quote above only perpetuate this erroneous theme.

There is a concept in psychology referred to as habituation. It is an extremely simple form of learning behavior that reduces the intensity of a response by repeatedly exposing an individual to the stimulus that is to be unlearned. A new ring tone on a phone may grab your attention but after hearing it many times you become habituated to it and no longer pay as much attention to it. If you were to ask how to help men stop focusing on women inappropriately the most effective and direct method would be to use habituation. Not placing the responsibility for women to hide and be responsible to restrain men’s normal inclinations but to allow men the freedom to see normally attired women on a regular basis so that they become habituated to normal inter-gender situations is most effective. This mis-focus on sexuality by reinforcing the fear of sex does the absolute opposite of habituation. Allowing some appropriate gender interaction to normalize the socialization process will help reduce the tension. Socially suppressing a normalizing event and requiring an individual to suppress all thoughts only heightens the tension of even passive interactions with members of the opposite sex.  In fact, it is a form of abuse that creates trepidation between men and women over normal contact.

To truly understand Tzniut and the fact that in a real Halachic sense it is the responsibility of not just a woman but also a man and the society in which they live, one would have to do an actual study of the topic and not rely on hearsay. Fortunately several individuals have done so. Rabbi Yehuda Henkin has compiled a book from a series of lectures that he gave on the topic that is one of the most complete and understandable. The book is called Understanding Tzniut.

It would be wise for all women and men who see this problem of misdirected tzniut and projecting blame as a major issue and to realize that women have legs and toes and ankles and knees and elbows and men just have to get used to it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Messages in the Sand

© (2010) Photographs by Vicki Polin
These pictures were created in honor of everyone involved in the Anti-Rape Movement, which includes survivors, non-offending parents, activists and other professionals working together to end sexual abuse/assault.

There's times I take pictures and put music together with the photographs and it just comes out perfect. This batch of pictures is one of those times it happened. The pictures are in the sequence that I took them.  The way it went with the music was spontaneous.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Case of the Unnamed Securtiy Guard Working at Day Care Center

Case of the Unnamed Securtiy Guard Working at Day Care Center

Reshet Bitahon Security Company - Petah Tikva, Israel

Convicted in 2002 of pressuring a young boy to accompany him to a bomb shelter in the South where he enticed him with drugs and pornographic movies and then sexually abused the boy.  He was later hired as a security guard at a municipal daycare center in Petah Tikva.


Table of Contents

  1. Pedophile found working at daycare center, arrested (10/12/2010)


Pedophile found working at daycare center, arrested
Jerusalem Post - October 12, 2010

Police determine that no children at the Petah Tikva municipal daycare center were victimized by security guard convicted of sexual abuse.

A former prison inmate and convicted pedophile was arrested late Monday after beginning employment as a security guard for a municipal daycare center in Petah Tikva.

The guard, 35, only managed to work two shifts at his new workplace before his new job was deemed inappropriate by a parole case officer from the Prison Service.

A police investigation determined that no child in the center had been victimized by the convicted pedophile before the discovery of his criminal past.  At the moment, it has yet to be determined how the guard was hired by the private security company, "Reshet Bitahon," that provides guards to the day care center, without running a proper background check.

The man in question was convicted in 2002 of pressuring a young boy to accompany him to a bomb shelter in the South where he enticed him with drugs and pornographic movies and then sexually abused the boy.

According to Israeli law, to employ a person in a position that includes regular contact with children, an employer must receive special verification from the police that the candidate does not have a pre-existing record as a sexual offender.

The suspect will be brought to Petah Tikva Magistrate's Court on Tuesday to have his remand set.  Police will also request an expedited indictment for the suspect on the charge of violating his parole.




Thursday, October 07, 2010

Responding to "Pelcovitz Co-Edits Book on Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community"

Pelcovitz Co-Edits Book on Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community

When I think of the these two I think of the presentation they did in Baltimore in which Pelcovitz refers to Mandel as an expert — even though he has no degrees in the mental health field, nor specific training to be working in the sex abuse field.
I also can’t forget how Mandel tells the audience NOT to report suspicions of sex crimes to law enforcement, instead to bring the allegations to their local orthodox rabbi to make a determination. I don’t know of any orthodox rabbis who have the forensic training to do this.
Here, watch them yourself. Let’s have an educated discussion: