Amudim, a crisis center focusing on combating sexual abuse and addictions in the Orthodox community, released a video to break the silence and stigma of sexual abuse. The video has been making its rounds on social media in late-May and early June.
"Not in our community," is the resounding statement, various Jewish authority figures tell victims of sexual abuse in the video.The clip depicts two parents and their daughter in the same scenario over and over again. Belonging to different Orthodox denominations in several scenes, they are not believed when they tell a school or a synagogue that their daughter is being abused.
“I watched the clip once, twice, and three times, and then I just broke down and cried and cried,” Esti, who later called the Amudim hotline, recalled after she watched the video. Esti, an Orthodox 20-year-old who grew up in Brooklyn had been molested by her older brother. When she told someone she respected at her seminary, she was told “You’ll be dating soon, my dear! Why risk destroying your reputation and everything you’ve worked to achieve?”
Esti's call was just one of the 200 calls Amudim fields daily.
“We operate with encouragement and support of Orthodox rabbis who agree that unless we fight the crimes and ills that too often get swept under the carpet, using the weapons of awareness and truth, we’re faced with community-wide disaster,” Rabbi Zvi Gluck, founder of Amudim, said.
Amudim has offices in New York, Florida, Ohio and most recently, Jerusalem. They have assisted over 5,800 victims.
“The most hackneyed response to these poor kids is ‘Things like this don’t happen in our community,’” said Gluck. “Ignorance, denial, and worst of all, rejection, are the three worst enemies of victims, but unfortunately reactions that they encounter on a regular basis. Contrary to what so many would like to think, sexual abuse occurs in every community, and it’s time we start listening to the victims in our community. Abuse thrives on denial and secrecy, and we can only put a stop to it and continue saving innocent kids like Esti if we acknowledge them and address their situations.”
According to the US's National Center for PTSD, about 10% of boys and 25% of girls are sexually abused. These statistics are on par with the rates for sexual abuse in Jewish communities, according to a study on child abuse and neglect published in 2018.