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Marc Gafni

The Power To Make Things Happen

the universeWell the universe and I are certainly working in consortium recently.  I try very hard to listen to what is being asked of me, and why I am here. I sit quietly with my thoughts because I have been granted a lot of time to do that. The process has been somewhat rejuvenating and awakening. Really listening is a challenge. I believe the gratitude is what brings about the positive forces along with positive directional thinking and mental imagery.  Believing in what you need and want, seeing it in your mind’s eye will bring about just that. It may not come at the particular time, or in the particular manner you would like or would’ve chosen if been given the choice, but it does come.

Since very early childhood I asked to be reunited with my birth mother and although I put much personal effort into that search the universe brought us together seventeen and a half years ago when I was 28 years old. Many people search for years and even if they are successful they are very painfully turned away.  I was one of the lucky ones. The universe helped me find my mother in a total of 28 weeks with a lot of help from others all of whom were brought into my life in the strangest of ways only to be explained by the powers that be wanting things to fall into place the way they did.  The number 28 as I have mentioned before is very significant in my life. There were many more instances of this number during my search and at other times as well.  I find it very interesting because the number 28 in Hebrew corresponds to the letters Chaf Chet כח. These two letters when placed together spell the word koach which translates into English as strength. inner strengthI find this both amazing and truly miraculous. It has taken much strength to get to the place I am right now and I know it will continue to require strength to keep going forward.  This is one of the things I ask the universe for daily after expressing gratitude, is to continue to give me strength.

Recently I have asked for a fresh start, for my house to sell quickly so that I could embark on a new path.  Just yesterday I signed the contract on my home and we will be closing quickly. For 30 years I asked the universe to please stop the abusive behavior of Mordechai Winiarz aka Marc Gafni, so that he could no longer hurt anyone else.  And now, only months ago thousands of people signed a petition on change.org supporting the truth about this sexual predator and his direct ties with John Mackey of Whole Foods.

Like I said, things don’t always come when you ask them to.  I pled as a child for my mother; and it took 28 years.  I implored the universe to protect others against a sexual predator who abused me; and it took 30 years, but positive thought and action will come to fruition if you keep the proper mindset.

Asking for a fresh start and being granted one is another proof positive in the universal connection to your hearts’ desire, and seeing it in your mind’s eye. I can picture myself granted with success, writing, creating, being in love, being loved, friends, family and giving back to the world in a positive way. Some of these have happened, or are happening or will happen at some undesignated point in time. But I can see it and feel it all.

Living in the moment and being thankful for just that moment makes the process easier. When I am writing I am so thankful that I am being given the time, space and mind set to be doing do. When I am talking to my children I am thankful that they are around to listen.  When I am meditating I am thankful for the time I have, the gifts I’ve been given and the nature around me.  meditatingWhen I am exercising I am thankful for all the strength I was given to persevere, and get to a place where my body is healthy and able to exercise and participate in active undertakings. When I am working around the house I am thankful for the roof over my head and what it took to get this roof all on my own almost 8 years ago.

You may not even know what it is you are seeking, silence and alone time may help you figure that out.  Once you do, YOU have the power to convene with the universe to make it happen; through gratitude, through belief in the universal power that exists, through positive thinking, mental imagery, then strength and action.

Following Your Heart & Living a Genuine Life

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” ~ Steve Jobs

heart and mindThis is a great quote.  Never thought I would quote Steve Jobs, but “having the courage to follow your heart and intuition” is something I have struggled with for years. People think I have so much courage for speaking out, and continuing to speak out.  When I originally spoke in 1986, it was from fear not courage – I was terrified of him.  The courage came over the years, as did the awakening that listening to your heart and intuition is of utmost importance.

You can push the feelings down for just so long. You can ignore them, you can pretend they don’t exist, you can compartmentalize them, but regardless they are still there. Good or bad they need light shining on them and they need to be realized in your heart. I still have not let all these emotions come into the light, although more and more of them appear with each ticking hour these past two plus months.

By letting some of the emotions out, I’ve been able to let others in so there is always a silver lining.

decision-making_0Some people are so afraid of their emotions, afraid that their heart will not lead them in the “right” direction, so afraid they just refuse to look at them at all. I know, I used to be that person. Most of my choices in life have been made by weighing pros and cons, writing lists, asking opinions, drawing and graphing charts, planning and preparing until I feel “certain” that I am doing the “right” or “correct” thing. The one choice I know I made from true emotion, was the choice to speak out.  It may have been from fear, but it was real, not calculated, not weighed or measured.  It was the best choice I ever made in my life even though the immediate aftermath was horrific; because now that choice is helping and inspiring so many. That choice, born from emotion and feeling – is what will bring about healing for myself, and so many others.  This in and of itself reminds me to listen to my heart, to use the analytical as necessary, but to make my decisions from a place of true emotion.

It’s funny really because there are thousands of people who support me now, who know the truth and see Marc Gafni for the narcissistic sociopath he is.  Again, this has all come to fruition for me because I made a decision to respond to a real emotion with an instinctive reaction.whisper heart

You would think it shouldn’t have taken me this long to learn such a basic life lesson, I am 45, but it did. The reemergence of this now has brought the importance of living a genuine life – one genuine to your heart, soul and spirit to the forefront. This is not the way I would have chosen to learn this life lesson (by being victimized as a teenager by a very pathological individual), but it is a very important one to learn – and I am grateful that I can use this power to continue to make true genuine heart healing decisions moving forward.

Oops? Really???

I feel like every new article I read about Mordechai Winiarz/Marc Gafni I have some reaction to, and when I have a reaction, I need to write. A new article came out today in The Forward thanks to Sam Kestenbaum @skestenbaum.  It is very well written, and like The New York Daily News article by Larry McShane @lmcshanenydn, I am very pleased with it overall.

The hardest paragraphs for me to read were the following:

“In that same 2004 article Rosenblatt cites another example, from 1986, when Gafni was accused of having relations with a 16-year-old female student from a youth group he led who was staying at his home in New York City. Gafni “was then 25 and married” and Judy Mitzner claimed that he “abused her sexually on two occasions.” At that time the age of consent in New York State was 17.

Charges were never filed in that case either and Gafni also claims that the relationship was consensual, although he concedes, including in an interview with the Forward in late December, it was a “mistake.””

mistake-600x300So I was a “mistake”, just a mistake, an “oops”. Really?  And all the other the victims, lies, manipulation, plagiarism, physical, psychological, and spiritual abuse in every community he touched, were all those just “mistakes” too? Things that can be erased and “done over”??

And, as I have mentioned numerous times before and Mr. Kestenbaum so eloquently restates charges were not filed because:

“[The] rabbinate at the time told us all to keep it quiet – that it would be handled internally … [They didn’t] want to cast a disparaging light upon the Jewish community.” – And we can’t turn back time.

Now the statute of limitations have run their course so there may be no legal remedy. He can just call me a “mistake” and get away with it.

Back when Mark Oppenheimer @markopp1 from The New York Times contacted me, I knew this would snowball. I knew there would be an avalanche, and I knew I’d have to relive the experiences and cope with a whole new barrage of emotions.  Thankfully I am older and have had enough life experience to more easily deal with this than back in 1986 when I was 16 and virtually alone.  It’s still not easy, but I now know I will make it through – now I have a support system and thousands of people who are not only listening, but believing, confirming and validating my experience. Once again to all of you – Thank You! You are helping make this experience easier by standing in solidarity with me.

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.

Karma is a Social Media Bitch

First all I could think was “holy shit”… a two page spread in the New York Daily News with my name all over it.  Then it was “holy shit”… a two page spread in the New York Daily News with my name all over it, and THANK YOU Larry McShane (@lmcshanenydn) for exposing the truth with such eloquence and accuracy.  I cannot thank you enough for the powerful article you wrote and I know I speak for all of his victims when expressing such deep gratitude.

I’d like to address directly one of the quotes Marc Gafni aka Mordechai Winiarz provided Mr. McShane.

“What they are doing is social media rape.”  Guess what? Real rape, real molestation, real stalking, real manipulation, real threats are far more criminal than an online battle of words.

So many bizarre memories are slowly returning (some positive, some definitely not).  Apparently when I was in University a professor gave me an article of his to read; I turned around, handed it back to her and gave her an education on Mordechai Winiarz; apparently one she never forgot – and then never assigned articles written by him again. I only have a vague recollection of doing this. But I gotta tell you, I was pretty bad ass to stand up for myself back then when I was still so terrified of him.

His cycle described by so many of his victims is what is so indicative of the sociopathic nature. The same story again and again, just altered ever so slightly so he is perceived “less guilty”, so he can more easily turn the tables.  Altered all the more so over the years – avoiding under age victims, because although possibly easier to manipulate they were too dangerous of skeletons to have in his crowded closet.

eliz pic
Elizabeth Sorvillo

If you are a victim of this man (under age or otherwise) I encourage you to contact Elizabeth Sorvillo who is advocating on behalf of his victims. She has offered her time, energy and support to help stop his abusive behavior once and for all.  The victims owe her more than she will ever know.

As for the other anonymous underage victim (who I personally know and send my love and suport); your quote ended this fantastic article and spoke volumes for all of us who have suffered over the past three decades. “And he is still the same guy who molested a 13 year old. He is not a different person.”

PLEASE PLEASE sign the petition linked to below. Get this man’s funding stopped before he hurts more people. The link also appears to the right on my blogs side bar.

http://change.org/p/whole-foods-www-esalen-com-stop-marc-gafni-from-abusing-again

 

With Gratitude and Overwhelming Emotion

Countless acknowledgements are in order, and although many of them are to be extended to my close friends and family, the majority of them seem need to be directed to those I have yet to meet. It took 30 years of repeatedly trying to be heard, never wavering, or changing my story, to finally reach people who listen and believe. The following particular Facebook post brought tears of vindication to my eyes.

shai's thankyou
An AMAZING Sentiment from Someone I Have Yet to Meet

I want the world to hear my THANK YOU, my THANK YOU for finally listening. So here is my public THANK YOU – a follow up to my thank you on Facebook. After everything I have been through the value of all the supportive “comments” on this blog, and the incredible explosion of readership since the release of the New York Times article has just blown me away.  As of this moment there have been close to 6,500 views on the blog.  This may seem inconsequential to some who have thousands of friends and followers on their Facebook pages alone, but to me the value cannot be measured. The comments and the readership mean more than anyone will ever understand. I could be crass, – say “too little too late”, or “long time coming”, but no, I understand that EVERYTHING happens when it does because the universe has a reason for things to transpire the way they do. From the bottom of my heart, soul and spirit I am truly humbled by all the support and immensely thankful to each and every one of you. (I know much of this is redundant from Facebook, but I wanted to be sure to reach all who deserved a thank you.)

Thank you note with smiley face , isolated on white

Getting my hopes up is not something I am willing to do after years of frustration, silencing and disappointment, BUT I feel like the universe is starting to line up, and karma is starting to catch up.  And, when that does…beautiful, holy things can happen.

Maybe Mordechai Winiarz or Marc Gafni or whomever he is right now will no longer hurt others – maybe the universe will see to it.

If some influential powerful person(s) is out there is reading this blog, please make sure my story reaches the right people.  The right people could be the media (press, television), politicians, high powered CEOs (Mackey comes to mind), etc.  There are already such people working in the background Elizabeth Sorvillo who has helped beyond measure, but continuing to get my blog out there can only be positive.  Here are links to the relevant posts:

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-6X       Not Just a Man with a “Troubled Past”… A SEXUAL PREDATOR

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-3s        The Cycle of Insanity a Brief Follow Up

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-3A       Don’t Silence a Cry for Help

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-3M      Reopening the Wound

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-3Z       Returning to Me & the Beginning of the End

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-4k       The Time For Change is Now

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-5s       Achieving “Closure”

http://wp.me/p6RHtL-72       Some Time to Process and Respond

Some Time to Process and Respond

Well I suppose a response/reaction to the New York Times article is appropriate at this juncture. Needless to say I am not happy with the gestalt of the article.  He was given not only the first few paragraphs (during which many readers will lose interest), but he was also given the last word. Publicity for a pedophile! He admits to the abuse of many, and blames the victims. Surprise??

He states I was “highly initiatory”.  I had just turned 16. He is 10 years my senior. I NEVER initiated ANY sexual contact with this man. I was not capable of consent – I was underage, he was an authority figure, my teacher and at that point my guardian. Hell, I said “No”.  The article indicates that no charges were filed. Do you know WHY no charges were filed? Because the rabbinate at the time told us all to keep it quiet – that it would be handled internally we don’t want to cast a disparaging light upon the Jewish community.  Does this sound familiar? Catholic Priests come to mind?

Scream But No One Hears
Scream But No One Hears

He admitted (his own version) of what had occurred to his third wife.  Here is a direct quote from prior testimony given by her in another blog (I believe roughly in 2004). Insert my name into “Name Withheld”.

“Before we got married, Mordechai shared with me that he had indeed had a sexual encounter with a minor. Her name was (Name Withheld) – a teenager who was in his JPSY youth movement He explained to me details of their encounter and how he went about covering it up and discrediting her. He told me that she had seduced him. He said that they did not have intercourse, but that they had at least been undressed, sexually physical and that he had ejaculated. After (Name withheld) reported this, he lied to everyone involved, saying that she was emotionally unstable, jealous and had made it all up. He even received a document signed by a Rabbi attesting to his innocence. (Name withheld) was under-age, a student of his, and were it not for the statute of limitations, he could go to jail over this.”

I wish I could say I was shocked by things that he was quoted as saying in the article, but I’m not:

“She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.” Huh????

“I did not” he said “represent myself as someone who didn’t sleep with students.” WTF???

He ADMITS to doing these things (blames the victims) and continues to not only get away with past atrocities, but moves from one realm to another piling up additional ones.  He repeats the same pattern time and again, learning with each indiscretion how to better manipulate and cover his tracks. Now obviously this man is intelligent enough to continue to do this, but I find it hard to believe that over the past 30 years there hasn’t been someone out there equally intelligent and influential who could stop him in his tracks.  No one cared as long as there was money to be made.

He sits in “his home office overlooking Monterey Bay” while his victims relive their abuse once again.  The survivors relive this each time this man reinvents himself, and moves on to another community of followers. His past is paraded publicly with each transfiguration – but nothing ever changes.  He continues to abuse, manipulate and hurt – somehow using his spiritual enlightenment as a defense. Now he’s “polyamorous”.

Facebook and Twitter are blowing up in response to this fluffy spineless article. I do want to thank all those out there on Facebook and Twitter who are supporting me! It is a LONG time coming (30 years!), but nonetheless it does help me feel somewhat vindicated and relieved. In today’s world of social media maybe finally people will listen, not only the global community in general (which is greatly appreciated), but maybe influential, powerful people who can put a permanent stop to his reprehensible behavior.

If I had a dollar for every lie he told, every individual he hurt, manipulated or controlled I might be sitting in a home office overlooking Monterey Bay myself.

Not Just a Man with a “Troubled Past”… A SEXUAL PREDATOR

It is truly hard to believe that every few years or so I am contacted by someone to retell my story of sexual abuse at the hands of a Rabbi, yes a Rabbi. This time, just days ago, it came from an author for the New York Times. It’s as if the powers that be feel the need to remind me in some way that this is part of who I am and is neither over, nor a closed chapter in my life.  I have never correlated my eating with this event in my life, but I can honestly say that since this has reared its ugly head again sugar has been really really hard to avoid.  So in addition to being off my feet for quite a while and unable to wear normal shoes for 4-6 weeks (BTW surgery on feet went well), I have to fight my sugar addiction and cravings while sitting around with little better to do than eat.  Check out the lovely new fashion statement –

my fashion statementI just need to stop bringing the stuff into the house and not let anyone else bring me my trigger foods. I know this is going to be a struggle, but I know somehow I will PERSEVERE.

My story originally written I think in 2004 appeared in a blog by Luke Ford who was doing investigative reporting and writing regarding this individual. I wish I could forget everything because it would be so much easier and there are even more details that come back at times that may not be specifically mentioned below, but it is a snapshot of my memories.  No one understands what this man took from me and so many simply don’t believe.  So much of my life and energy wasted actively trying to be heard.  I didn’t wait until years later to reveal what happened, as many do. I spoke out in 1986 right after it happened, and so few would even listen let alone accept it as truth.  I continued to tell my story, continued to cry out for help on so many levels and so little was done.  I was shuffled around and told to keep quiet even by those who knew the truth.  No one wanted to believe that this could happen in the Rabbinate. Are Rabbis not human?

My recollections appear below;  I don’t know how much ANOTHER article about this sociopath is going to do in the scheme of things.  The problem is that SOMETHING needs to be done. He needs to be STOPPED, to be put away, and held accountable for all of those he has hurt over the past 30+ years.  I’d love to be believed, to be in someway “compensated for my pain and suffering,” but I don’t believe there is enough money or regret available in this world to feel a true sense of vindication and closure.  That has to come from me, and for the most part it has. But every few years this all pops up again and is brought to the forefront of my thoughts and emotions – and it all returns just as raw as it was 30 years ago.  Maybe if the story is published in a highly reputable newspaper something will come of it, but honestly I have lost all hope in this realm.

I am happy to tell my story and will answer any further questions anyone may have if only with the hope that the right influential person will be asking it.  A strong article is just that, a strong article.  Since I wrote my story this man has transfigured himself countless times throughout numerous “branches” of Judaism and other spiritual paths – I am at a point in my life where I have accepted the fact that this man is just untouchable.  A charismatic leader who can fool anyone at anytime.  I’m sure he could convince even me that he has “changed”.  I hope the New York Times article is read by individuals who are willing to see a reality that exists and challenge it face on. I asked the NY Times journalist for permission (not that it was needed, but I felt it respectful) to post this on my blog because I did not want to start any ball rolling before it was ready to roll. This man has left an insane timeline of victims from NY to FL to Israel to UT to CA. and who the hell knows where else over the past 30+ years.  I don’t know if anything will be different this time around, but since my hope has already basically been broken I am not expecting anything.  Here is my story as recalled in 2004 that was published in the aforementioned blog:

“The overwhelming exhaustion that has washed over me from existing as a victim for the past eighteen years has ultimately been my silencer. Any remaining strength is channeled into the necessary tasks of parenting and daily survival. I will no longer be a victim.
The better part of my childhood was spent lost and invisible. My earliest recollections are of pleading to an unnamed supreme being.
“Please,” I’d say, “I’ll do anything, anything at all if you’ll let her find me. I know she must be looking for me.”
I’d scream and cry into my pillow at night. I remember waiting at the door. Anger was not an issue. If I was angry with anyone, it was the other “she”, the one who had taken me away. That was how my childhood psyche worked. Adoption was not a warm fuzzy word defined by “we really wanted you”. I read it as; the one person who truly mattered didn’t, couldn’t or was convinced not to.
So, I kept searching for my mother, for someone to love me the way I needed to be loved.
Along came Judaism, JPSY and Mordechai Winiarz (aka Marc Gafni).
At that time, my family was in constant turmoil. My father had brushed with death far too many times. In 1985 he underwent his second open-heart surgery – a quadruple by-pass. I hit puberty and my emotions, hormones and home-life were in shambles.
Mordechai Winiarz paid attention to me. He told me how intelligent and special I was. I spent many Shabbat lunches with him and his wife feeling like I had finally found a family. I began keeping kosher and abiding by the laws of modesty. Mordechai had awarded me JPSYer of the Year. My sadness and isolation at home had me frustrated and doing poorly academically. I asked Mordechai if I could live with he and his wife. At the time I was hoping for a more permanent arrangement, but we agreed on taking things one week at a time. I had just turned sixteen when I moved in with them the first time.
The week went by rather uneventfully with one exception. I awoke one evening from a disturbing dream. It was maybe midnight and I heard someone awake upstairs. I decided to get some milk and try to relax and think. I soon realized it was Mordechai who was awake. He heard me in the kitchen and asked me to talk to him. When I approached the study, Mordechai was in his robe, preparing a shiur (lecture) on something.
“Why are you still awake?” he asked me. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing” I said. “I just needed a drink.”
“I can tell there is something wrong, talk to me.”
“Really, it’s O.K.; I just had a bad dream. I am going back to sleep.”
“You’ll never be able to sleep if you don’t tell me.”
He wouldn’t give up. I felt trapped. Not physically mind you, but emotionally. I enjoyed talking and sharing with him because he listened, but the dream I had was strange, it involved me as a young child and the typical scenario of walking in on your parents’ lovemaking (in the dream he and his wife were my parents). In the past I had general dreams involving them as my parents. I didn’t want to share it. I wanted time to think about it. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I finally described my dream to him, he interpreted it as my being sexually attracted to him. I felt he was completely off base. I quickly changed the topic, and was able to return to bed.
After the agreed upon weeks’ stay came to a close, my parents insisted I come back. So, much to my chagrin, I returned home. Things there went from bad to worse when my mother fell at work and was hospitalized with a broken hip. Now my mother was hospitalized and my father was trying to recoup from open-heart surgery. I felt helpless and lost. I couldn’t cope. I had no siblings and no family lived nearby. So off I ran – back to Mordechai, his wife, and the warmth and safety I felt there.
This time however, it was very different. It was Tuesday evening after at school when he made his first trip into what was then my bedroom – the basement. It was very late and I had already been asleep when the door opened. From the door, he said, “You look like you need a hug”. I pretended to remain asleep. He approached the bed and repeated himself. I still did not answer and conveniently I was turned away from him. My mind was racing. I was overwhelmed. I didn’t know what to say. I was shomeret negiah (abiding by the stringent Jewish laws prohibiting premarital touch). Why was he in my bedroom? Why was he asking to touch me at all? I knew it was wrong. He knew it was wrong – didn’t he? Certainly I needed a hug, I always needed a hug, but a hug from him was wrong. Wasn’t it? If it were so wrong, why would he have offered it? I could not keep up with the fears and questions flying around inside my brain.
Before I could process them, react or respond he was sitting on my bed. I sat up to tell him “No, it’s O.K. I don’t need a hug. And why are you even offering?” when he put his arms around me. For a brief moment it felt good – like I was a little kid and my daddy was giving me a hug. Then I realized this was not right I tried to pull away but he held onto me and fell on top of me. He began touching me under my night-clothes. I said “No.” and tried to move his hand away. He kept fondling me. I said “No.” again and he stopped, abruptly stopped. It was the most bizarre thing.
He rose from the bed, told me not to say anything about what happened because no one would understand. He promised me it wouldn’t happen again. And I believed him. I had to.
Thursday was an early release day from school. I was emotionally exhausted and went straight downstairs for a nap. Mordechai was at the house. I thought that was odd – why was he not working? He tried to stop me, to talk again. I told him to leave me alone – I was tired and I needed rest.
I had been asleep no longer than 30 minutes when Mordechai arrived in my room once again. Now he was in robe. He didn’t bother to knock. He stood at the door and said something to wake me. I startled. He arrogantly stated, “You know what you want.”
“What?” I asked. I truly had no clue what he was talking about and why the hell was he in his robe in the middle of the day?
“You know what you want. I will go out of this room and come back in. You just give me a sign.” He stepped out and closed the door.
The shaking started again. What the hell should I do? What did he say? I was half asleep. I sat up in bed. I was fully clothed, under a thick blanket, warm and uncomfortable. I had layered my clothes so that my elbows would be covered. I removed one layer, completely covered myself up to my neck with the comforter and turned to stare at the wall hoping that he’d just not come back. I felt like such a child. I wanted him to love me, but not like this. I wanted to be their child, just start over with a new family who paid attention, cared and understood.
Then he was there in my room, standing over me at my bedside in only his underwear. I had not even heard him come in the door. He laid down next to me and began touching me again, like he had previously. I said, “Mordechai, no, this is wrong.” It was as if he didn’t even hear me. I just shut down and let him do what he was going to do. He continued fondling me, took off all of my clothes and his. He positioned himself on top of me ready for intercourse.
“When did you get your last period?” he asked. What a weird question. I wasn’t sure of the answer. I just made something up. “That’s no good.” He replied. “You know I could get you pregnant.” He seemed disappointed as he lay beside me. Mordechai took my hand and forced me to help him climax. I had never done anything like that before. I had never even seen a man naked. He ejaculated all over me. I felt horrible. When he was finished he stood abruptly.
“Get cleaned up and come upstairs,” he ordered and left the room.
I was now shaking so fiercely I could barely follow the instructions. When I finally ascended from the basement, he was waiting in the living room, in his typical starched white shirt and dark dress pants.
“We are going for a walk,” he said.
We walked around Flatbush for the better part of an hour. First he attempted to make me think that nothing ever happened; that it was all a figment of my imagination. When that didn’t work he tried to convince me that I would never be believed because he was a Rabbi and I was just a kid. Who was more credible? He asked rhetorically. He was Project-500still unsure that I was buying his argument so he moved on to threats. He would destroy my life. I would never learn in yeshiva, never get married, on and on. Now he had my attention. What was he capable of? I couldn’t be certain. But I knew one thing – I was scared. Emotionally destroyed, hating myself, and hating him, just wanted to disappear.
He left me there at the house and headed toward Manhattan. I was alone in every sense of the word. I knew his wife would be home from work soon. I went to the kitchen, found the sharpest knife I could find and sat on the dining room floor screaming, crying and trying desperately to break the skin of my wrist with the blade. I had just made a few superficial cuts when his wife walked in.
My gut instinct was that he had already told her some crazy story about me. She saw me there curled in ball on the floor crying. She didn’t even acknowledge my existence. Maybe she couldn’t. She just walked by and went into their bedroom. I knew I needed to tell someone. I called Susan (a JPSY advisor and friend) three or four times before I reached her.
I went to school the next day in shock. I was due at Susan’s house for Shabbat later that evening. The evening before, I had told her briefly what had occurred. When I returned to his home after school to pack for Shabbat he was there. Again, he insisted I not tell anyone. He made me promise not to.
The train ride to Susan’s house was surreal. I was crying and shaking all the way from Brooklyn to Queens. I had never been so confused. I desperately wanted to tell Susan everything that had happened but I was afraid.   I felt like I was drowning, like I could barely breathe.
There were other girls there that Shabbat and I could not find the privacy necessary to continue discussing what had happened. I fell asleep crying, hoping that things could just go back to the way they had been only days before. When Motzei Shabbat arrived one of the other girls left and only one other JPSY teenager and I remained. I talked Susan’s ear off about nonsense until the other girl nodded off, and then I told her the details of what happened with Mordechai.  I was shaking like a leaf.
It was then that Susan told me that she had already heard from Mordechai. He had called her prior to Shabbat “warning” her about my “delusional” stories, my emotional instability and attempting to compel her into allegiance. Susan diligently listened to the facts, my fears, and unequivocally assured me of her loyalty and confidence in my credibility. She told me that he had made inappropriate advances to her in the past. Susan was there for me through what would be the remaining eighteen months of hell. We were kids trying to figure out how to handle this trauma with no help or support from our parents or the community. I don’t remember much after that conversation.
I do remember telling my parents with Susan by my side what had occurred. I remember how they blamed me since it was I who left the house to begin with. I remember the next year and a half of harassment and mental games. I clearly recollect the “camps” of people who believed what really happened and those who refused to. I remember the telephone calls at all hours of the evening – the hang-ups, the heavy breathing. Then the photos of naked men arriving at our home because Mordechai had taken out a personal add in a gay men’s magazine using our P.O. Box address as the return. I remember the Rabbis telling us to “let things go” and “move on”: Kenneth Hain, Yitzchok Adler, and Sholomo Riskin.   I remember the ridiculous meeting held at Yeshiva University at which I had to bare my soul to men I had neither previously met nor trusted.
People keep telling me that times are different now. People will listen. Things will change. I don’t know. I want to believe that. I want to believe that he will be stopped. That he will no longer hurt anyone. All the talking, emails and articles seem empty to me.
I am placing the truth out into the world once more and putting it formally into print. If this gives other young people the courage to speak out when they are betrayed, hurt or violated by an adult maybe something good will come out of this. Maybe others perpetrators will be stopped. Maybe community leaders will learn to take a stand on crucial issues before victims accumulate in silence, erupting unpredictably later in life with unified inner-strength and piercingly powerful voices. I won’t be silenced again. I’m no longer a victim, I have a voice.”

sexual abuse stats

You can go online and read many positive things about this man, along with all the negative, and I cannot tell you what to believe.  This is an EXCERPT from the Wikipedia page about him:

Sexual controversy[edit]
Gafni has been accused of sexual improprieties in the media and online, dating back to the 1980s.[1][5] In 2006, accusations of a sexual relationships between Gafni and three women who attended the Bayit Chadash spiritual center in Jaffa, which Gafni opened in the late 1990s, were made public.[6] Gafni responded by acknowledging relationships with some of the women.[5] However, Gafni characterized the relationships as consensual, and bolstered his claim by posting polygraph test results on his website.[2][37] Due to the allegations, and Gafni’s sudden[10][38] departure from Israel and the school days after they were made public, the spiritual center later closed.[39]Once in the United States, Gafni sent a remorseful letter to his congregation, causing many of his former supporters to express regret.[38][40] Gafni maintains that the letter was not an admission of fault or guilt but an attempt to cool the controversy.[41]
In 2011, Gafni was the subject of new allegations of sexual misconduct.[19] This caused Integral Life to announce that they were deleting Gafni’s contributions from their site.[19] Also, Tami Simon, chief executive officer of Sounds True, canceled her publication of the Gafni’s new book, “Your Unique Self,” and issued a statement against Gafni.[42] The board of directors at Center for World Spirituality, an organization founded by Gafni and which Gafni is the CEO of, issued a statement of “Unequivocal Support” in Gafni’s own defense,[43] and Warren Farrell also wrote a letter of support. Ken Wilber originally separated from Gafni,[44] but eventually reconciled with him and rejoined him at the Center for World Spirituality.[45] The book, “Your Unique Self,” was ultimately published by Integral Publishers.[46]
The epilogue of The Guru Question, by Mariana Caplan, who is the mother of Gafni’s youngest child, addresses the prevalence of sexual harassment complaints against spiritual teachers, and uses the complaints against Gafni—which she categorizes as “false accusations” driven by a host of ulterior motives—as a case study how such complaints develop.[47]

For the longest time I blamed myself.  Now I have a daughter that age.  I realize now more than ever that I was a victim.  But I can no longer live in that mindset, the mindset of a victim needs help to rebuild ego. Losing the weight helped a bit, coming back into my own, back to creative endeavors has helped as well. Maybe some of you struggling with weight loss are also struggling with a similar secret from your past or present.  I don’t know how much help I can offer, but I can offer an ear and support and the advise to keep telling your story until you are heard.  It may be painful, but karma has a way of doing its job when the time is just right.

Being that I will be off my feet for some time – I hope to get back to blogging more frequently.  I’d love to hear from anyone who reads my blog it helps me keep writing!

The Time For Change Is Now

spotlightI mentioned that I would not be writing anything regarding my abuse on this blog until the article was published in the New York Times. For three reasons I have changed this decision: 1) It has come to my attention that the article when handed to the editor was so long it would take another week or so before it goes to press. I know that should not make a difference in my world, but somehow it does. I have been trying to prepare myself for life, as I know it to possibly change after this weekend. I have been anxious to say the least. 2) I decided to write this now, because many readers have brought to my attention that not only does this blog help other survivors gain the courage to speak, but also it can, and should be a catalyst for change across all aspects of this sickening problem of sexual abuse. 3) Finally with the premier of the movie SPOTLIGHT I felt the timing important, as the awareness and cry for victims rights is rising across the nation.

First and foremost the legal system:

legal scaleLet us take a look at how sexual abuse is generally defined legally.

The US Code Chapter 109A defines sexual abuse in the following manner[1]:

  • Section 2242  Sexual abuse: “… (1) causes another person to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear (other than by threatening or placing that other person in fear that any person will be subjected to death, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping); or (2) engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is – (A) incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct; or (B) physically incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in, that sexual act; or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life.”
  • Section 2244  Abusive Sexual Contact: “… knowingly engages in or causes sexual contact with or by another person, if so to do would violate – (1) subsection (a) or (b) of section 2241 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; (2) section 2242 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than three years, or both; (3) subsection (a) of section 2243 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both; (4) subsection (b) of section 2243 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both; or (5) subsection (c) of section 2241 of this title had the sexual contact been a sexual act, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life. (b) In Other Circumstances. … knowingly engages in sexual contact with another person without that other person’s permission shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than two years, or both. (c) Offenses Involving Young Children. – If the sexual contact that violates this section (other than subsection (a)(5)) is with an individual who has not attained the age of 12 years, the maximum term of imprisonment that may be imposed for the offense shall be twice that otherwise provided in this section.’
Definitions used in this chapter: As used in this chapter – “… (2) the term “sexual act” means – (A) contact between the penis and the vulva or the penis and the anus, and for purposes of this subparagraph contact involving the penis occurs upon penetration, however slight; (B) contact between the mouth and the penis, the mouth and the vulva, or the mouth and the anus; (C) the penetration, however slight, of the anal or genital opening of another by a hand or finger or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; or (D) the intentional touching, not through the clothing, of the genitalia of another person who has not attained the age of 16 years with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person; (3) the term “sexual contact” means the intentional touching, either directly or through the clothing, of the genitalia, anus, groin, breast, inner thigh, or buttocks of any person with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person;” [See full legal code by following link at footnote #1 below.]

To most of you reading this, the above will all just be legal jargon, but if it weren’t for the current state driven statutes of limitations it would be a lot more than that to me and many many others. I intended to provide here an alphabetical listing by state of statutes, but it would render my readers’ unconscious or numb long before they reached “Colorado”. As of 2013 there are eight states that do not have any statute of limitations for prosecuting felony sexual assault. Delaware has no statute of limitations for ANY sexual offense.

Over the past decade or more as sexual abuse scandals have become so prevalent in our country many states have changed their statues and continue to do so. “Many states have extended he time period of the existing statute of limitations regarding civil claims”, others “have temporarily lifted their statute of limitations in order to give victims an opportunity to raise civil claims against their predators.” And additionally some “states have also found additional reasons to toll the statute of limitations, such as in circumstances when an institution conceals evidence of a child sex crime.”[2] In particular cases involving clergy have been front and center. “Clergy sexual offenders in the Church were more likely to be targeting whomever was around them (and they had unsupervised access to) regardless of age and gender.”[3] Hmmmm, sound familiar?????

Again to be clear when it comes to my personal experience:

  1. I was under the age of consent I had just turned 16, in 1986 I believe the age of consent was 18 and other extenuating legal issues/circumstances apply as well; he was both more than 5 years my senior, and in a position of authority.
  2. There was penetration (not penile, but with fingers). There was contact with the penis and the vulva, but no penetration.
  3. I said “No.” Actually more than once.
  4. I did speak out, but no one who would or could affect change would listen.

So, what is wrong here? Why did Yeshiva University (who heard my story at the time directly from me, and stories from others) permit Mordechai Winiarz (aka Marc Gafni) to continue his employ as the director of the then Jewish Public School Youth Movement? How has he continued to reinvent himself time and again, teaching in positions of authority with full-unsupervised access to victims of all ages? How many more individuals does he need to victimize before someone does something to put a stop to his predatory behavior.

How many other victims of other predators must go invalidated, unheard and without justice?

Second, the clergy:

Clergy Representing ALL faiths... this effects ALL of us, regardless of our beliefs.
Clergy Representing ALL faiths… this effects ALL of us, regardless of our beliefs.

It would only be posturing on my part to provide any answers when dealing with the complexity that is organized religion and its leadership, or other authority figures. I can say only this. Something needs to be done. As a step toward prevention, possibly a better vetting process needs to exist, or some standardized internal system put in place for adults in authority positions interacting with followers?

I’d like to direct you to another blog dedicated to giving survivors a voice. Read Danny’s story – understand that this is so much bigger than one person, one predator, one pedophile, or even one victim. Where there is one, there is many. http://blog.burnandrotinhell.com/2015/11/dannys-story-part-two-this-is-what.html


 

[1] http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/uscode/18/I/109A

[2] Statutes of Limitations for Civil Actions for Offenses Against Children (2013 Update)

[3] The Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis and the Legal Responses by James T. O’Reilly, Margaret S.P. Chalmers ©2014

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