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Reaching Out

Reaching Out

A Fourteen Year Old Rape Victim Shares Her Story

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Editor's Note: As editor, I am the one who approves reader comments that are posted to the various articles. Not long ago a comment was posted to a piece about sexual abuse. The comment was extremely powerful, honest, soul piercing and painful. It was the voice of a young girl thanking the writer for her words and the strength they gave her. It was clear that the girl responding had a story to share. So I emailed and asked if she would be so willing. This was the email I received in return…


If I talked about it I would feel it, it would be realIt's weird to be telling my story. I'm only sixteen so it's not like I have a lifetime of things to say. It's also strange to know this will be published for everyone to see. I've always kept everything inside. No one ever knew about the conflict raging inside; people always described me as bubbly and upbeat.

To be raped is one the most horrifying experiences, especially for an already confused fourteen year old. After the rape my brain shut down. I felt numb, I felt like a shell. All my feelings – the hurt, shame, anger, guilt, sadness, and confusion were all locked away.

I felt like I was seeing myself as an outsider. I watched myself smile, laugh, and have fun, but I didn't feel any of it. When I looked in the mirror I didn't know the face that stared back at me. That's when I started cutting. It allowed me to feel my existence, and feel pain, but a different kind of pain. A controlled pain that I was in charge of, I had some sense of control over my out of control life.

My parents found out about the cutting and were shocked and confused. I refused to talk to them about it or tell them anything. I couldn't talk about the rape. If I talked about it I would feel it, it would be real. I wanted to pretend like it didn't happen, and if no one knew it was easier to pretend.

They took me to a therapist who I hated. I decided a therapist wasn't the solution, I decided the solution was to leave. If I left my city and went to a boarding school I would be away from all my problems. That, of course, didn't work. I couldn't run away from my problems because I couldn't escape myself. When I realized that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. By this time I had been through countless therapists and social workers. I wouldn't talk to any of them. I was still cutting and starting to get really depressed. I skipped school almost every day and my grades dropped drastically.

I couldn’t run away from my problems because I couldn’t escape myselfThen I started to have the dreams—horrible frightening nightmares, vivid replays of the trauma. I couldn't handle it, I felt like I would explode. I finally called up a close friend who I trusted one night and told her everything. She was so nice and loving about it. She encouraged me to tell my parents, but I was too afraid. I was afraid of how they would react and how they would treat me. I was ashamed by what had happened. I was afraid it was my fault, that I was guilty, and would be blamed.

I talked with my friend a lot. There was so much I had bottled up inside all this time, once I opened up, it all started spilling out at once. It was hard to deal with all the emotions that were overtaking me. I got very moody, and spent a lot of time in bed. Everything was so overwhelming. I had no motivation to do anything. I didn't shower, change my clothes or clean my room. I was thinking about suicide a lot. Thinking about all the years ahead of me made me panic. I had to kill myself, I didn't care if I went to hell, anything was better than the hell I was going through. I decided I would tell my parents about the rape, so they would understand a little after I was dead.

I stayed up a whole night writing my will, and I wrote a suicide note and goodbye letters. I picked up the bottle of pills I hid in my dresser, but I didn't take them. Instead, I don't know why, I called up my friend crying and told her what I was about to do. It was late, past midnight, but she drove over right away. She sat up with me and talked and listened. She coaxed me into putting the pills away and going to sleep. She promised she wouldn't tell anyone, but the next day she told my parents. I was so angry at her. I know now she was doing what was best for me, and how hard it was for her to betray me like that, but then I hated her and cursed myself for ever telling her anything.

I had to kill myself, I didn’t care if I went to hell, anything was better than the hell I was going throughMy parents drove me to the hospital that night and I was admitted into the psychiatric unit for intensive care. They diagnosed me with post traumatic stress disorder and major depressive syndromes. That night was one of the worst nights of my life. I felt violated, like I had done something horrible wrong and was being punished for it. They took away everything – my jewelry, my I-pod, my phone, even my clothes – I had to wear hospital scrubs. I felt so uncomfortable being there.

There were doctors, nurses, and physiologists everywhere. About fifty times a day someone would as me, "What are you here for?" and "How do you feel?" I'm not a straightforward person; I'm always beating around the bush. I hated the blunt questions and having to say things, if you didn't talk about your feelings you had to stay longer.

It was also very hard for me being a religious Jew there. I had to wear pants, there was no kosher food, the guys and girls were mixed, and I grew up going to an all girls school. I cried my whole first day there. Eventually I got used to it. I even got used to the real annoying stuff, like not being allowed to use a fork or pencil and having to have a nurse go with you to the bathroom. There were even some parts I liked about it. I really liked the group therapies, it was so cool to talk to other kids who were going through similar things and understood you. I also like how safe I felt at the hospital. At home I had a constant fear that someone was after me.

After a week I was released. I felt more comfortable talking about what had happened after being so open with everything at the hospital. I was seeing a follow up physiologist who specialized in trauma, and I went to a group therapy once a week. Things weren't really getting so much better though. I still felt depressed and suicidal. I overdosed on pills twice, and my parents wanted to send me back to the intensive care unit. They ended up taking me to a psychoanalyst who prescribed anti depressants. I didn't want to take "happy pills" but she explained to me that the pills were there to stabilize me, and help me in my down times.

The other week I put all my razors, pills, and negative things in a box and got rid of itI switched to a therapist I like better than the doctor, and started getting closer with my group. I really was able to open up and talk to them. They became like a second family to me. I look forward to group, it's such a great place to talk about things and get support. I still have a lot of things to work through.

My parents are constantly getting frustrated with me because I have trouble communicating and being open with them, but we both try to understand each other.

My friends have been incredible. They've helped me, loved me and supported me the whole way. My therapist is helping me put the puzzle pieces of my life together, patch up the relationship with my parents, feel good about myself, and work hard in school. The other week I put all my razors, pills, and negative things in a box and got rid of it. It felt so good, I felt so strong.

Looking ahead still has me scared, but I lift up my head and stare down the long road.

I know there is a bright future ahead of me. Because if I can get through this, then I can do anything, there's no stopping me. G‑d will be with me every step of the way. I have faith in Him, He won't let me down. I know G‑d has put me through all of this because He has faith in me too. He believes I'm strong and capable and I can do it. I won't let Him down, and I won't let me down.

I don't want to let this evil control what I become. Every day that I let this ruin my life, the more horribly significant it becomes. So that is why I wrote this. To share my story so that others going through it know that they are not alone. I know the article I read gave me strength and I hope this does the same for some other girl out there. So if you are reading this, my message to you is: Don't let someone else control what you become. You can decide, take every situation and make it the best. If I can do it, you can too.


Editor's Note: Below are some of the many organizations working to prevent abuse and help survivors of abuse to heal. This list was orginally compiled by Miriam Karp for a related article on abuse:

The SOVRI Helpline is an anonymous and confidential helpline staffed by trained volunteers who provide help, information, support, and referrals to survivors of abuse. We don't have caller ID. Our volunteers are trained to understand the dynamics of sexual abuse. They also have training in listening and counseling skills, emergency department protocol, legal protocol, post-traumatic stress disorder, domestic abuse, childhood sexual abuse and incest, and recommending appropriate resources. Our volunteers are supervised by licensed social workers with extensive experience in dealing with these issues. SOVRI Helpline is under the auspices of Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan.

The helpline is open Monday-Thursday 9:30am-5:30pm and Friday 9:30am-1:30pm. The phone number is (212)844-1495.

Shalom Task Force Hotline provides information on rabbinic, legal and counseling services for victims of abuse in the Jewish community. (888)883-2323.

Faith Trust Institute is a clearinghouse for information on domestic violence and clergy abuse in the Jewish community. Faithtrustinstitute.org.

Jsafe: The Jewish Institute Supporting An Abuse Free Environment is an organization led by Rabbi Mark Dratch, which provides a certification program for communal institutions, publications and educational initiatives. Jsafe.org

Ohel Children's Home and Family Services of Brooklyn, NY, has therapy and treatment programs for both victims and perpetrators, sensitive to Jewish needs. (800)603-OHEL

The Awareness Center is a coalition of Jewish mental health practitioners dedicated to building awareness in the Jewish community. They also offer an extensive online collection of articles on issues affecting survivors of sexual abuse. Awarenesscenter.org

Association of Jewish Family and Children Services (AJFCA). (800)634-7346. ajfca@ajfca.org

National Center for Victims of Crime (800)FYI-CALL.

National Child Abuse Hotline (800)4-A-CHILD.

National Hotline for Victims of Sexual Assault (800)656-HOPE.

National Organization for Victim Assistance (800)TRY-NOVA.

Find Jewish resources by state at jewishwomen.org/directory/state_res.htm

Sources for internet and general safety include kidsafe.com

Much additional information is readily available online, through family service agencies, and in the library.

By Anonymous
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
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Janella Canada January 2, 2018

You are a brave young woman to share your story. I am proud of you :)

Love,
Someone who went through it, too. Reply

S.T.H Jamaica January 6, 2013

I had the same experience I was only 12 years old when I was molested on numerous occasions by my mother's boyfriend. It happened almost everyday starting in January and ended in May. I did not fully under stand what had happened to me until I was 14 years old. Hurt, shame, guilt and hate engulfed me to the point of cutting myself;from my wrist,arms, thighs and chest. I felt so alone and I hated myself so much it was beyond words. I went the point where I swallowed more than 20 tablets to kill myself, but it failed. The worst part is that no one in my family knew about it. My classmates didn't understand me they said I was weird. I started seeing a counsellor at my University who later referred me to the psychaitist. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with a combination of PTSD, anxiety and depression. I spent 1 yr and 6 months in therapy. I am now 22 yrs old and it still bothers me from time to time especially after hearing about the numerous cases of abuse.Sometimes I sit ad just stare at the wall & cry alot Reply

Anonymous Tuddern, Germany June 6, 2012

Thank you I was molested by 2 people, for years. When I finally told my parents, they didn't believe me. My friends don't understand, as they've never experienced it. I have cut since I was 6, so for 11 years now. I'm sorry this happened to you too, but at the same time, ti's good to know that other girls my age have also experienced similar things. I'll keep praying for us, that we can move closer to G-d's loving embrace, and forgive the past, and by doing so, look forward to our future. Reply

Anonymous Monsey October 10, 2011

wow! i can DEFINITELY say that abuse is NOT easy!!!!! i hav a slightly more intense story myself, but the emotions are all the same.
how long were you abused for? and what was your relationship to that person? Reply

Anonymous Tuddern, Germany October 20, 2010

Me Too I'm 16 now, but I was nine, it was awful, and I continued to see my neighbor every day. My parents just found out about it this past winter, but they don't know about the pills and the cutting, and my previous lack of belief in G-d. They didn't understand my grades or why I lost all my friends. Everything deteriorated, and then G-d found me. Thank you for sharing your story in such a brave way, and impacting countless people who have or are going through the same thing! Reply

Anonymous Omaha, NE July 22, 2010

Finding the Right Therapy (Second Posting) Factors that influence our behavior include: OUR BIOLOGY (unipolar depression, biopolar depression, addictions, vulnerable personality, etc.), DISFUNCTIONAL LIFE EXPERIENCES (abuse, neglect, rigid or lax dicipline, etc.), PRESENT LIFE EXPERIENCES (conflicts with important others (parents, siblings, spouse, friends, etc.), and SELF DEFEATING BEHAVIORS (addictions, self harming, secluding, etc.). So knowing these things can help you survive your trauma and help you to gain healthier ways to deal with it and overcome it. If you are not blessed with people in your life that are supportive of you and invalidate your feelings rather than validate them, then try to find people who will be supportive of you. And if you are having trouble finding G-d in the darkness of your trauma, I urge you to don't give up on G-d. Continue to pray and draw closer to Him and you will find that He is still G-d in your pain and is there to help you and bring good to you out of that pain. Reply

Anonymous Omaha, NE July 22, 2010

Finding the Right Therapy (First Posting) I thank you for having the courage to share your story and Chabad for having the courage to publish it and help bring light on this subject. I am encouraged by your words that you are seeking healthy ways to survive the trauma and doing things to reclaim what was taken from you and are moving forward in strength. I hope this for the anonymous poster as well whose mother didn't want to know and whose father hated her. I didn't find much relief of many of my PTSD issues until a doctor finally recommended (years into my PTSD diagnosis), DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) which I learned Core Mindfulness Skills and other coping techniques. Finding the right therapy is critical in how well you survive your trauma. And don't beat yourself down because you feel you should be over it and you are not. There are many factors that influence your behavior that come into play when you go through a trauma. (Will continue in a second posting) Reply

Anonymous July 19, 2010

Overcomer To experience the pain not only physically, emotionally, and psychologically etc of being raped.. to try to really explain it to someone that has not experienced it.. what words do you share? But to be a support to someone who does know.. without having to know all the details of the specific event you can recall the feelings the utter hopelessness. I was 18. It has been eight years, yet that moment changed my life. B"H, he transforms even the most heinous deed to something that can be used for good. Sharing your story with others. You are not alone. Being a testament.. Overcoming someone sinning against your own body. Remember the faith of Esther, who repeatedly was raped each time the king summoned, and yet was willing to even sacrifice her own spirituality for the sake of the Jewish people in offering herself to him. To experience suffering in this world, and yet we as a people rise above it. And transform the utter darkness around us revealing the light of Mashiach. Reply

Anonymous Toronto, Ontario May 31, 2010

A story like yours You are also a phenominal person. You have taken pain, not wallowed in it, but are using it to get trained and be a support system for others. I wish other people who witness or experience injustice would work even in some small way to be proactive in preventing such injustice and helping others overcome their challenges. That you are dedicating yourself to professional training and your life to that end is the greatest revenge you can have on those who caused your pain. Good Luck. Reply

Barbara Frommer Tulsa May 26, 2010

Stay alive Don't kill yourself.

The way I kept from killing myself was to tell myself,"I'll feel better later." And in fact eventually I did not feel as bad although I have spent a large percentage of my life numbing out. But there have been a few happy moments now and then and in any case Gd's world is too beautiful to abandon it, no matter the pain or shame. Reply

G.F. May 26, 2010

I respect you!! What happened to you was not your fault you were a victim of a terrible crime against humanity and were robbed of a significant part of your childhood. I cry for all the victims of our terrible exile where such evil can take place and beseech Hashem How much more!!?????
I went through PTSD after losing two children- and I also finally reached out to a friend and got some form of relief in breaking the silence, but as with you the road to recovery was only through ongoing support groups -it's unbelievable to see how I've healed Thank G-d.
I also admire your great trust in G-D- you truly inspire me- and please don't be angry at your friend she obviously only had your best in mind! Reply

CB Manchester, England May 26, 2010

Wow this was so beautifully written! I really could relate to a lot of it. Thank G-d you are getting better may you continue to grow. My story isn't as bad but it could have been! Thank you for sharing
Hatzlacha, much luck! Reply

Anonymous May 25, 2010

If only I could have told someone. Mommy didn't want to know. Daddy hated me & wouldn't care. The shrink was THEIR ally, so I didn't credit his claim to be my friend.

I found out the kids at school thought I was stuck up. So I went through hell forcing myself to talk to them. My throat would close when I tried. Somehow, by the end of the eighth grade, I was talking to everyone. Mommy praised that.

It stays. Shrinks don't help. Ordinary behavior is terrifying. The shame and sense of unworthiness are so painful. I am "shy"--less so when teaching math or English.

I "should" be over it but so many ordinary chores are so hard. To numb the pain I eat, play solitaire & surf the web. It takes courage to leave the house & get through the day. I'm old & alone.

Call me a coward to add to my shame. Or tell me I'm brave to keep trying despite the fact that every therapy I've tried has been useless. Observing the mitzvos is my only joy. Reply

Melonie Gobel East London, South Africa May 25, 2010

Though you may be only 16 yrs old, you have lived a lifetime already. As a survivor of abuse myself, I honor & salute you for your courage & determination in the midst of the struggles you have faced.

There will be many trials & challenges in yr future, but as you continue in the journey of yr life, with your eyes fixed on Hashem, He will lead & guide you in the way that you should go. As you allow others to share in your pain, you will find that the burden lifts & will eventually fade.

You may always carry the 'scars', but if you allow the healing process to occur through Hashem's love, the trauma & pain does not have to hurt any more. Like an accident when we were little, we may carry the scars till we are old, but we don't have the pain. So too, we have the potential, of turning this around in our lives.

I now offer safe houses for abused women & children, programs to help others and share His love practically. I can understand, because I have been there.

I wish you Shalom! Reply

Anonymous May 24, 2010

Dear lady... your story made me cry. Please be strong, your strength will be the power for the world. Please Love, your love will become the Light for this world. Please forgive, it will be Mercy for the world.
Please be close with your parents, because this will be the wisdom for all of us. G-d bless you in your way:)

I was 10 years old, when it happened with me. I did not think of killing myself, i did not know that i could.
I remember policeman told my mom not to talk with me about it and make me to forget it. So, i was busy thinking how to show that I have forgotten it, so everybody would just relax. Killing myself came in my thoughts latter, and since i never believed in pills, jumping from 8th floor seemed an interesting option, at least i'll fly.. but I would never-ever leave my mom alone, she would not survive that. I love her more then life. Reply

little sheep brooklyn, NY May 24, 2010

wow! i know how much courage it takes to share your story, so i'm really impressed that you have done it! thank you for helping to make the world a better place by sharing! Reply

chana boas Jerusalem May 24, 2010

I am in awe of your strength of character and emunah,and I imagine most of the other readers are too.May you be blessed for writing this, and may you experience true joy throughout your life Reply

Miriam Adahan Jerusalem, Israel May 24, 2010

GOOD FOR YOU! Good for you for having the courage to share your story and good for Chabad for having the courage to publish it. You are recovering from the trauma by refusing to allow the rapist to deprive you of your sense of identity. Your best revenge against that subhuman animal is to enjoy life and to allow yourself to love and feel loved. Reply

Hinda Schryber jerusalem, Israel May 24, 2010

dont stop now Dear author and others,
I know exactly what you are talking about, believe me. the disconnection, the isolation, the shame, the guilt, the shrinks, the therapists, the big secret, the feared future , the cutting , the pain etc etc.
If i achieve one thing in my life it will be to make sure that what happened to me and you does not happen to someone else, and more than that-to make sure that everyone who wants to - can recover.
Oh yes the pain will never completely go away but Oh YES - we can live lives, get married and have chidlren and be connected once again!
I have seen people climb from the depths of the pit back to humanity. Please - anyone reading all of the above have HOPE and BELIEF that you are not alone and someone can help you.
Dont stop now - go and tell someone- call someone you trust.
Chabad.org - please post numbers for people to contact - its a must following this!

(EDITOR'S COMMENT: It was an oversight that the numbers weren't posted. They have now been posted. Thank you for pointing that out!) Reply

Anonymous May 24, 2010

A 14 Year Old Rape Victim Thank you for sharing this story. The crime is horrible. The young lady is very courageous for sharing the trauma that she endured. A well-known female celebrity recently stated on a TV program that a certain rape was not "rape rape." I hope and pray that she never has to endure such a crime, or that her daughers never have to be violated in the same manner. Too many people in government and law enforcement do not seem to understand the severity and seriousness of the crime of rape. Present sentences are too light. I am a Christian. I will be forwarding this article to many of my Christian friends. Thank you for the sensitivity and dignity with which you presented this story. Reply

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