The last few weeks have been filled with the hustle and bustle of the yomim tovim, but amid the many meals, hours in shul, family trips and weather that was beautiful one moment and flattened succahs the next, our phones kept on ringing. Because let’s face it, not only don’t abusers take off for the holidays, the Yomim Tovim are often prime opportunities for them to prey on the vulnerable.
Such was the case with Chaim*, who comes from a large family and has been battling depression for the last two years. The Yomim Tovim were especially difficult for him, with the entire extended family at home. Hoping to get some much needed space, Chaim went out for a walk one night of Chol Hamoed and was confronted by a threatening individual. At first, Chaim was afraid he was going to be robbed, but the sad reality was far worse and the 17 year old was sexually abused by the stranger.
Filled with self-hate and shame, Chaim went to his neighbors, Sara and Avi Leff*, where he often spent much of his spare time. The Leff’s had always been a safe haven for Chaim and a source of emotional support and it was clear to them immediately that something was very, very wrong. It took some time for Chaim to share what had happened and the Leff’s reassured him and told him that they would get help him through this difficult time. They called Amudim and a caseworker is working Chaim and his family to arrange the appropriate treatment program, support, guidance, and therapy referrals. Amudim worked together with the family to connect with local law enforcement and legal aid.
Chaim has a long way to go but he knows that between his family, the Leff’s and Amudim, there is a village of people making sure that he is not alone and ensuring that he will get through this and come out on the other side.
*details have been changed for confidentiality