By Roni Aloni-Saddovnik. December 2010.
Roni Aloni-Sadovnik is a survivor of child sexual assault.
She endured this abuse from ages 3-12, and then suffered further emotional abuse from her attacker after daring to tell her mother, who told her she was “inventing stories”.
In 1998, Roni was elected as a member of Jerusalem’s municipal council, and for 5 years was the head of the non-affiliated faction, Ohavie Yerushalaim (those who love Jerusalem), which acts mainly on behalf of all the city’s children and youth.
In 2003, she was the first woman in history to run for the mayor of Jerusalem.
Today, Roni leads the Task Force Agents on Human Trafficking in Israel, and dedicates herself to promoting children's and women's social issues.
By Roni Aloni-Sadovnik. Translated by Irit Hakim:
LIFE AFTER DEATH
The first manifesto of childhood sexual assault victims
To all young victims of child sexual assault everywhere.
Wake-up from your death, my beloved. You're not alone any more. Shake the dirt clouds out of your clothes and get out from under your grave. Here, take the proffered hand.
WE CAN SEE YOU THROUGH THE SILENCE
No! You do not need to tell us how you got there; we can see you through the silence.
Like you, we had been murdered, too. Countless times we had been on the edge of the cliff, looking longingly into the promised, peaceful· below.
And you, who gingerly stands today, transparent and silent at the foot of the ladder, again considering whether to let go and to drop down -- or daring to climb back from the abyss of hell on earth, to you are our words: we wanted to tell you from our perspective, what one can see from here.
With a stunning view from the top of the ladder, the sky is clear, the air is pure, the quiet hugs, and the permission (to choose) is given.
Yes, climbing the ladder cuts bleeding of the feet; no one helped us to climb, no safety net had been spread up beneath our feet, and nobody had promised to be there to help if we fall.
Conversely, every time we managed to climb up, holding the precipice with our fingernails, there were those who pushed us with the edge of their shoes, quietly, back down, down the ladder, so we will not be. So that we disappear.
WE NEVER TALK
So we will not tell, will not talk, will not spoil the happy ending of their "movie".
Climbing up from the Underworld was exhausting and tedious, and often during the climbing we stopped again, debating why bother?
Many years ago, when we, the girls of the seventies, got up from the dead, there were no adult victims to tell us what can be seen from the top end of the ladder -- whether it is worth even trying to climb?
The Road To Recovery Is Worth It
Today we are here to tell you that the road to recovery is really not easy, but definitely is worth it.
It has a re-creation of us; it has a cure, quality and satisfaction. It even has love, a new safe home, full of happy laughing children.
Today we are here to point you to a rickety step of the ladder, pitfalls along the way, the snake dens, and hidden traps.
'What the hell do I have'
Through the journey of your life, there is always that tortured question: what the hell do I have?
What is this "thing" that is broken in me?
Well, there is a seventh sense which has not been yet researched.
This is the instinct to create life, which makes one want to live and to fight against the danger of death. This sense has been destroyed in us.
Life feels scary
And so we live the life of indifference to danger, emotion, and a sense of numbness.
We feel life is scary, and death is rather a promise of peace and quiet.
Despite everything, we wanted to tell you about a way to fix the world
If you allow us, we can support you and help the lonely kid who has been left away, deep in ourselves.
We, the victims of sexual assault in childhood, who went through decades of feminist empowerment and psychological treatments, we learned and researched, and touched our injury.· And by these we have gathered many insights which we would like to share with you, so that you would have it a little easier than we had.
The nodding therapists
We learned that everything starts with the quality of the care you give to yourself.
On the way, you'll meet dozens of therapists who “nod”': psychologists, social workers, psychiatrists, and counselors who do not have a clue about sexual trauma, and who are certainly not professionally qualified to treat victims like us; but they never tell you this. You intrigue them, they endure the pathology of the shocking story you are bringing into the room.
By learning about you, they are doing their internship. It's not interesting to them that you do not have time to teach them, that you need someone to save you urgently.
For years you'll be sitting in front of nodding therapists on the couch· -- they, nodding their heads with sympathy for 45 minutes.· They will take your money and will not help you a bit.
And you?· You stay confused and naked on the brink of entering another clinic.
Only when you get into the arms of one analyst, the right one, who studied the specific field of childhood trauma treatment, who knows the "it" -- only then do you start to breathe again, to live, to love ,and to laugh. Yes, laugh.
Name the monster
Once we learned the monster has a name, suddenly life is not so scary.
It has borders, and finally we can put it in a drawer and lock it. Sometimes you can even open the drawer and drop it a little something to eat, and let it breathe fresh air.
When it relaxes and you can even talk to it, and when it's convenient for you,· you put it back in the drawer again. That's what a good treatment does for us. It teaches us to tame the monster and test its qualities.
Like an engraved number on our arm
Another important insight we had is that our functional difficulties in the present do not justify the unbearable lightness of the psychiatric tagging they rush to give us, like an engraved number on our arm.
We were saved from the inferno, but we do not blame that it happened. The abusers are to blame, so then label them and not us.
We learned that medical schools ensure that the burn is only on your arm. But it really, quickly becomes a visible Sign of Cain on your forehead.
Superficial definitions are irrelevant, are not true, and are only stem from a primitive medical ignorance of medieval and patriarchal days, which insists·· practioners diagnose "behavior" as a "mental disorder".
It is fed by the wrong fundamental concept of the consequences of traumatic injury in children, the results, and the appropriate treatment methods. That is an idol men's medicine, and has nothing to do with us women.
We realized that the source of "non-normal" is not our mind, but the soul of a sick society which suffers from a split personality: on one hand it calls to eliminate the monster, but on the other hand, in the dark, it strokes the monster and adores it.
Governments fear to look the monster in the eye
We learned that the government was afraid to look at the pedophilia-monster in the eyes and to chase it with sword drawn.
Do not be surprised, little child, if a pedophilia-monster has been nesting among the government members themselves; otherwise, it is unclear why there is hesitation to eliminate it.
Government, courts, police, and media had to sacrifice for pedophiles every week with more and more bodies of infants to supply their insatiable appetites. We learned not to expect them to destroy the monster which· supports them.
We are on our own with this
My dear, we are on our own in this campaign. The sooner you understand this, the better to redeem yourself faster. Get yourself waving this heavy sword to defend yourself.
Wake up girl, lift up your head! There is no defect in you, or impurity! All these are out of you. You can be healed and cleansed.
True, you will feel, like us: harboring memories of the injury forever, winning daily memos to the end of the ages, seeing appearances of body of the child that we had been -- lying murdered on the courthouse steps.
And for the rest of your life you'll wonder why our leaders, our legislators, judges, and police officers pass daily over the Contemptible Girl's body which is flowing with seed; they pass it, jump off it, walk upon it, and their shoes dirty her parts, not seeing her. Her transparency is crying but her voice is not sound.
The monster has a name
Well, my child, the monster has a name. Our “illness" is called PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder.
Her signs are very clear: chronic fatigue, sleep disorders, nightmares, fear of anything approaching us physically, long days of depression, loss of joy of life, despair, headaches, and inability to get out of bed in the morning.
Our physical body cruelty includes starvation, over-feeding, injury, constant attempts to cause the body to cease to live, indifference and danger of death, attraction to death and danger, drug addiction which makes us forget the pain, and bouts of amnesia and memory problems in the short and long term.
Deleting all our childhood memories, we suffer from lack of ability to build relationships based on trust, and we do not trust any person. We do not count even on ourselves.
We find it difficult to work with men: we live with continuous tension as to how to interpret any physical contact or their statements, waiting for the attack to arrive...knowing it will come.
We have difficulty creating healthy social relationships and tend to extreme reactions to those around us: a loving person might become an enemy in a second. We are affected easily, and find it difficult to trust the other.
We have serious problems in creating relationships; we have problems with pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and parenthood. Our whole life - from morning to night, is in fear of almost everything.
It is a continuous standby for impending disaster.
The worst thing are the memories of the injury itself: all our senses are attacked on a daily basis by visuals - flashes of images of the rape, smells, touch, sight, sound, and so we are busy trying to fend off our head out of the rape attack that lived among us as if it's happening right now.
Here, right now.
We are traumatised
When we see a scene of violence, or advertising of a film reminiscent of the rape, we do not function for days afterwards.
Those of us who have been injured as children and even were suffering within the family unit, experience a more severe form of PTSD, called CPTSD.
Any sexual assault is a trauma, but the sexual assault of a child whose personality has not yet matured, whose damage is done on a regular daily basis, and by someone close and loved,· it is this that is called the "mother of all traumas".
A soldier injured by shell shock who predicts afterwards that the bodies of his good friends are torn apart right next to him, has about the same shock as a woman who has been raped.
But it is clear that a soldier who is captured and tortured physically and sexually on a daily basis over many years - the injury of his is mortal. Now, imagine a little girl who is captured through such torture – is it not clear that she is the most affected creature in the universe?
Indeed, we walk among the living, but we are dead inside. We are murdered souls.
Many of us see death as the only option to relieve the never-ending pain.
We run way
Some run away to drugs and prostitution, some injure their bodies in places hidden under clothing.
A stranger will not understand this -- cannot understand that only a physical pain can reduce the enormous pain in the heart.
We starve the body which failed in its mission to protect the soul, or we over-feed her, be cruel to her, neglect her, or find it difficult to communicate with the body, let alone love her.
Control of the body had been denied to us by someone hitting us, and so we told ourselves the importance of controlling the body in every possible way.
I am forcibly occupying the place of the offender, and taking the reins into my hands. Now. I'm the one who hurts. I'm the one who is bruised. I am the one who is rewarded for punishment.
Keep quiet don't tell
Harm from within the family also has different economic aspects and other traumas.
It excludes us from· outside the circle of life. If we keep quiet and don't tell, then the abuser will continue to hurt us.
When we as children - if we are counted, our family denounces us and says we are "liars" or simply "crazy", we are being deleted out of the offender's legacy of sharing assets and goods of the family.·
Or a chance compensation for the misdeeds of the offender -- compensation to be taken necessarily from the pockets of our mother, our brothers. and our family - those difficult, exhausting dilemmas.· So we usually prefer quiet renunciation to the noisy struggle.
And most preferable is the silence of death. No doubt.
Generations pass and we repress
Generations pass, a chain of childhood continues to be born - get hurt - forget - remember - and die like a scratch that no one bothered to stop.
To deal with the problem, our brains have created a great tool: repression. It helps us to forget the incident, like a huge steel gate that falls and blocks up the images of horror, smell, touch, and memories. But the price of steel to build a huge power dam is high: the loss of all memories of childhood.
How can a person live without the memories of innocence and beauty?
Every person comes into the world equipped with a battery that contains vital energy which should be enough for a hundred years.
We have to burn so much energy, intensity. It takes tremendous effort to filter the memories, until the battery life is running out for us at a very young age. Not only does our battery run out at age 20, we need absolute silence, stasis; without that, nothing will move around, Quiet. Quiet. Only in this way do we fill batteries.
We find it difficult to forgive the girl who trusted her offender; she gave him permission to do it in silence, without telling anyone.
Stupid girl. A little stupid.
You deserve all the punishments in the world for what you did to me. Look what you did to me!
Is that how a good girl behaves?
Our journey is long
We are victims of incest and childhood sexual assault.
Alone on our shoulders, there is a heavy burden. We are on a long journey; we decided today to get up and demand that you see us.· We're not transparent.
We deserve that the state will help us build a healthy future to fund our treatments. We deserve not to pay taxes. We deserve that they see us at any moment we live. We deserve not to be accused of what happened and that there will be no Statute of Limitations for the murder of the soul of a child.
Murder is Murder
Murder is murder, and the Mark of Cain should be deleted from our foreheads -- but· rather tattooed· on the foreheads of offenders. And noted on their tombstone for all to see, for all generations until the end of days.
I find comfort in the fact that I am fighting by law for girls and for other victims.· Every legal victory for my client is my own private victory.