Q: I am 13 years old and attend a Jewish Day school. A few years ago I was sexually abused by a man at a local community center. I have suffered much pain because of this and i have never forgotten one aspect of the time it happened to me. I sometimes feel that I am the one to blame. I don't know what to do about this. Can you give me some good advice so that my hurt goes away?
A: It is so sad to hear that this has happened to you and that you are struggling so much with the pain in the aftermath of the event.
Sometimes we as human beings, have the strange notion that we are all powerful and can control everything that happens to us and in the world around us. For you to have been responsible for what happened means that you were totally in charge of the place, time, and circumstances...plus that you could, in some way, control what the other person thought about you and ultimately did to you. Even an adult has no such power, let alone a nine,ten, or eleven year old child whose knowledge, strength, experience is so limited.
The power that you do have is to not "reward" that event with such control over your life. Your success in living, learning, relating to people and all of the things you do...in spite of what happened, is the power that you have.
I hope you are asking for help with these feelings...counselor, rabbi, parents, friends, and that you can rid yourself of the hurt.
Perhaps you could create for yourself a little ceremony of ridding yourself of the hurt...writing all of the hurt on a piece of paper and, in the presence of family and friends...throw it in a river...or burn it or something to announce that you are ridding yourself of those feelings.
Copyright (c) 1997 by Rabbi Ted Feldman. All Rights Reserved.