1986 and forward…A mix of extreme clarity and tumultuous emotion

flashback2Flashbacks are happening more frequently now. I assumed they would. Seeing his photo on all these articles is part of what triggered it all, I’m sure. I see and hear the same thing over and over again.  Mordechai standing in the door frame of my basement bedroom in his white undershirt and tighty whities (to be exact). And that one phrase that won’t leave my head: “You know what you want.” It’s something I will never forget. I am almost 46 years old now and half the time I don’t know what I want. How is it possible a naïve vulnerable 16 year old back in 1986 when asked such a question by a man in authority – her Rabbi, mentor and father figure no less standing in front of her almost naked to have an answer to such a question. I wanted him to take care of me. Not sexually, but spiritually and emotionally.

Why is it that that scene above all other traumatic ones repeatedly return? That scene and everything following up till my fetal position on their dining room floor in front of the rack stereo system with a knife by my side – ignored entirely by his second wife when she literally walked right by me – having already been brainwashed to believe that I was crazy – making up stories –and delusional.

flashbacksEach of these scenes play in my mind with perfect clarity down to the clothing we were both wearing. I can’t remember all the years that my 5 children were born mind you (I have to think about it), but this shit stays perfectly formed in my long term memory.  How fucked up is that?

I can almost picture the very modest outfit I was wearing that day as I had already adopted the Jewish law of modesty.  The long straight skirt, the white knee highs, the ¾ length sleeve shirt and the over shirt I put on for some color.  It had a turquoise pattern on a white background. By no stretch of the imagination was my outfit inviting sexual advances or seductive.

And why do I still feel the need to justify myself?  Because I had early release from school for the holiday weekend that day? Because I was a scared, vulnerable, needy teenager?  The adult knows none of this matters. I was a child. I see my now 16 year old daughter and understand. And 16 in 1986 was not what 16 in 2016 is either.

So here I lie awake once more wishing when I closed my eyes I didn’t see him standing in that door way. Running and rerunning those scenes in my head certainly doesn’t help, but it won’t stop once the rest of my brain stops and tells me okay it’s time to sleep – that’s when they creep in. Or in the middle of the night as a nightmare which then has me awake till the morning because I don’t want to close my eyes and see it all again.

I was stronger back then than I realized, and poor Susan I guess was not as strong as she presented to me so that I would have someone to count on. It was just too much for her, his behavior and the rabbinical response. We stopped talking a few years later because I was still so needy and broken after everything.

I need time to process alone. But I know that’s probably not ideal either. I’ve been in and out of therapy since the abuse and keep thinking I’ve compartmentalized the memories that I know will always be there.  It’s just that my story and the stories of other Winiarz/Gafni victims emerge and reemerge every few years with the hope that finally someone is listening – so again I speak out and it all comes back. Maybe this will be the last time. With people like @DavidIngber1, @Markopp1, @lmcshanenydn, @StephenDinan,@EMSorvillo, Rabbi Shai Held and so many thousands of others now supporting the victims it feels like the universe is finally on our side. My blog has been viewed over 10K times by people from 81 countries since it began. I once again want to express my gratitude to these people even if it took 30 years, the wait will be worth the outcome I hope.


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  • 1956shoshanamz

    January 5, 2016

    I am so sorry that the flashbacks are painful but I want you to know that some good is indeed coming of this. I first saw one of MG’s Hebrew books shortly before Bayit Chadash imploded. I had never heard of him before and thought about buying the book but was short on cash that day. When Bayit Chadash hit the papers I knew I would never buy the book. Once he left Israel I didn’t give the case much thought until the NYT article hit social media. Although the NYT was absurdly bland, it was enough to remind of the awful story and quickly warn a dear person living in central California to steer clear and keep others safe. Be well.

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