Friday, November 28, 2014

Sex In The Forbidden Zone

Sex In The Forbidden Zone: When Men In Power…..Betray Women’s Trust (by Peter Rutter, M.D., 1986) was a book that helped pull me out of a period of fright I was trying too hard to manage on my own.

I had no idea how very hard it was!
There is a
cost to the quiet!

Today in light of one more sex abuse scandal, involving one more man in a position of power, I am thinking about the messages of this book and what it taught me. 

The book helped me at the time by my reading clinical perspectives on the personal harm being done to me and the lack of integrity and exploitativeness that represented in my abuser.

Added to the apparent stepping over the line of moral and ethical decency of Bill Cosby, I am thinking today, also, of the pain of the women involved, reminding me of my own. The pain of the abusive acts coupled with the pain of carrying a secret added to the pain of telling the truth, at long last.

And, then the backlash as the armchair judges get into the act, dismissing stories that have taken an enormous amount of courage to tell. I am not certain the resulting polarization with those on the side of support makes it much easier. It is all so much pain!

Yet I am sure it does help one regain dignity and balance after awhile -- and -- above all a sense of empowerment.

Even today, several decades later I still struggle with remnants of shame and fear that somehow imbued my rabbi with a greater power over me than I found in myself – or – in my community to help get him away from me.  

But now I am more confident of my role as an innocent in the episode that continued for more than a decade and one-half.

When will it ever stop?

As a psychotherapist I have had far too many reports from emotionally traumatized clients in similar circumstances. And, sadly enough the blind eye of those surrounding these abusers of power and betrayers of trust has, in many ways, been as disheartening to witness, if not more, than the abusers themselves.

I sought out my rabbi for counsel and guidance in dealing with an abusive husband. It was my second marriage and the second time I had chosen a man who would be emotionally abusive. Without the maturity, skill and support I needed to take care of myself – and my children, fleeing from these marriages seemed my only option.

With these two husbands the ploy worked well enough to free me of their direct, personal control over me. However, the consequences still continue to this day, many years later, in the form of indirect punishments of me and my children; defamation of character, continued scandal-mongering, power plays and control games might be the polite terms.

While the rabbi has been deceased now for a number of years,  alive he was not so easily dissuaded as these two husbands. Oh, the tales I could tell about how it was, if I would.

At the time I still believed in rabbis as viable teachers of truth. They were the scholars, the wise men who could interpret the mysteries of life far and away beyond  the limited capabilities of ordinary people such as I. It was difficult to see this particular rabbi in any other way than I had been reared.

Thus, for more than fifteen years, this esteemed man, my rabbi, pursued me in ways that were frightening; his pursuit more like stalking. To this day I have not yet fully cleansed myself of the toxity this infected me with.

Of course, I told no one.

Who could I tell? I was not accustomed to “telling” the things that confused and bothered me most. And, he was so very prominent and well-regarded.

I now know, today, that the greater cost was truly that of being quiet, not having anyone I trusted to tell.

Secrets have so much power over our lives. They warp the clarity we must rely upon to experience the beauty of life, eating away at the very fabric of our emotional, physical and spiritual health.

Yet when telling seems to carry with it an equal or greater threat, how difficult it is to know which way to go.

So, I find myself, as I write these words, pledging, again, anew to hold a space of loving, caring and compassion for whomever it is that would seek me out, yearning to free herself of the –

Burden of truths held back; the cost of the quiet!

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