Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rabbi Manis Friedman

There is a Youtube clip of Rabbi Manis Friedman talking about sexual assault which has caused widespread condemnation.  The comment which caused the most upset appears to be his remark about a young man who told his girlfriend that he had been abused in his childhood but did not feel damaged.  Rabbi Friedman then asked why the young man would have told the young woman and said that it is like having diarrhoea which is embarrassing but not something you feel you have to tell everyone.The problem is it is not always like a stomach upset that can pass and leave nothing in its wake.  Often, as Rabbi Friedman points, out sexual assault leaves a loss of trust and a vulnerability.  It is not helpful for victims to have uninformed comments made about their situation. Rabbi Friedman demonstrates a limited understanding of the effects and long term consequences of sexual assault.He remarked that telling a victim it is not their fault is not helpful as victims know it is not their fault.  Unfortunately that is not true.  Many victims groomed as children do not know it is not their fault or if they know it intellectually they do not feel it.
Leaders of religious and other communities need to be careful in their remarks about sexual assault victims because they can cause harm to people who already blame themselves for their abuse. We have seen unfortunate comments made by the Catholic hierarchy about victims of childhood sexual assault it is unfortunate that another religious leader has followed suit.

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