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.