Baruch Dayan Ha’emet.
Joe Diangelo was the fourth hasidic survivor of child sexual abuse who lost their life to either suicide or an accidental drug overdoes in the course of the last month.
We all wish there was something we could do to turn all of this around, yet as long as there is a culture in which children are not believed (including adult survivors), the number of individuals who commit suicide or die from accidental drug overdoses will continue.
What happens in New York, also occurs in other insulated orthodox communities globally, such as in Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles — and including far away places as Canada, Israel; Australia and South Africa.
It sickens many of us greatly that to many Jewish leaders in both the hasidic and yeshivish worlds (worldwide) refuse to allow their followers to get legitimate help from licensed mental health professionals, who actually have the correct education and training to work with survivors of sexual trauma. Another major problem in these types of insulated communities is that it is common practice for survivors who wish to enter into psychotherapy to ask permission from their rabbi to do so. Once the rabbi agrees, the rabbi will instruct the individual which therapist to see. This type of approval in many communities is mandatory.
Unfortunately, the mental health professionals (licensed and non-licensed) who the rabbis refer their congregants to, have a habit of violating confidentialities.
Several hasidic and or yeshivish “professionals” believe they are required to share private information disclosed by their clients with the client’s rabbi — even though this type of information violates HIPPA or any other type of legally binding secular law.
All too often the rabbonim from these communities will say that it is much better for survivors to speak with a rabbi or mental health professionals from within their own communities for cultural reasons — with the belief the outside world would try to change their way of thinking, customs or religious beliefs. What the rabbis don’t broadcast is that they are aware that outside professionals are not under their control and would not violate the client / professional rules of confidentiality.
When a survivor goes outside the community for help, they are violating the rules and regulations of their community, which often leads to the survivor and or their family members being shunned — meaning, they no longer are allowed to attend Jewish schools, synagogues or gatherings for other community members. If the survivor or their parents own a business, the rabbonim have the option of banning other community members from shopping or doing business with them.
Another custom appears to be that when it is learned that a adolescent or young adult survivor seeks help outside the community, and the survivor refuses to adhere to the rules of the rabbonim, the parents are often instructed to kick their children them out on to the streets — which leads the growing population of homeless hasidic or yeshivish teens and young adults.
When an individual grows up in or joins an insulated community they don’t have the same resources available to them as those who live in the secular world. They are taught not to trust outsiders. They are unaware of the resources available to them, and if they do reach out to the secular world for help, they are taught that outsiders will harm or kill them. The problem is about cult like practices that mimic mind control, and not about religion or faith.
Considering these disastrous traditions, we all must be made aware once again that blaming individuals who have been victimized is WRONG and all too often turns into a deadly mess.
- Orthodox Jewish rape survivor buried by community that shunned him