Monday, October 20, 2014

Back...with a slightly straighter head

Where to begin...

A new year has begun, for those of us who are Jewish, and this has been a time of evaluation, reflection and renewal in my life. In evaluating this blog, stepping away is what had to happen for a little while. It is too easy to get lost in the unimportant details, the illogical arguments and the general chaos and insanity of this group and its many layers of "members". There are so many more important things to do with my time and energy. My life doesn't revolve around this blog. It doesn't even revolve around the Family much anymore, so when I notice too much of my time or thoughts being consumed with it, it's time to step away.

For those who were concerned about how the trolls and their stupid comments affect me- no worries. I'm a big girl. I can handle criticism, name-calling and threats. I know they just want to shut me up, or at the very least make me doubt myself.  Well, they haven't. I stopped writing because I needed to evaluate, for myself, my purpose in continuing this blog. What is the benefit to me at this point, or  to anyone else? Getting into arguments with cult members, and nit-picking the details isn't where I want to go. I also don't want to feed morbid curiosities or fuel the fires of pissed-off past members or friends/relatives of members. Anything I choose to say "against" the Family can be twisted and thrown back at me. Anything I reveal about my experiences or my thoughts makes me vulnerable in one way or another, I guess. That's just the nature of what I'm doing here.
In reality, I can only write what I want to write, and I have no control over what people do with it once it is posted. That's a choice I make, and I need to be willing to deal with the consequences of it, whatever they may be.

I do want to say something about a few of the anonymous comments, and Waawaawaa;
while there are plenty of idiotic people to go around in the Family, I really think it's possible that these guys are trolls. They sound completely illogical (at least to me), and honestly, most Family members just don't speak this way. I may be wrong, but I think some posters just enjoy getting a reaction out of other readers. If they are actual members, well, I still don't hear those points of view in the mumblings and conversations I have been privy to. So, I have chosen to simply ignore them. If they are at all serious in their opinions, arguing with them is a colossal waste of time and energy. What more could any of us possibly say at this point?
And by the way, anonymous veiled threats on a blog are just...pathetic.

Even more pathetic are some of the other threats I have received. I was told that I should prepare myself because my death would come shortly. Those were the exact words "your death will come shortly". I felt alarmed, for, like, a split second.  I was also told that my actions would bring suffering to myself and anyone I loved. I was told that I don't know what pain and suffering are but to get ready for it.
At first I thought :"these assholes are actually threatening me?!"
But none of the words are direct threats. If they are from Family, I believe they were meant on some sort of spiritual level, according to their beliefs.  Again, I don't really hear people talking that way. Also, as much as some people hate to hear this, most members really are good, sincere people who believe in the whole idea of "love thy neighbor". They believe it in their own warped way, maybe, but the purity of intent is still there. People don't go around threatening other people. Its not a "normal" part of Family life to try to force the will of others in such a direct way.

If nothing else, the comments illustrate why many of us are hesitant to question things openly, or to speak out about our negative experiences. So thanks for that.

It seems like there is still some question as to whether things have changed over the years, and if "bad stuff" still happens. It's a good question. Things have definitely changed. The Family of the 80's is drastically different from the Family of 2014, by all accounts. To clarify, I never said that the members are all bad, or even that all of the kids who grew up in it have been adversely affected. While it isn't my experience, I can accept that growing up in the Family has been positive for some of us. In fact, some of the "youth" could probably call their childhoods idyllic. I have heard some of my peers describe it that way, and I understand it; they have grown up in extremely tight-knit families with their aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents all around them. Family gatherings and holidays are big, warm events. In today's society, how many of us can say that we are still surrounded by the same close friends and family that we had as infants and children?  A member can go to a dinner, or a holiday party and watch their children play with the children of the same friends they played with as toddlers. You can watch your children run up and hug their teacher who was also your teacher in preschool. If somebody is having a baby, there are weeks of meals delivered their house. If there is a need, there is always somebody there to fill it. That is the reality of the family for some people. For them, it doesn't seem to come with a price. And maybe it really doesn't. I just don't know.

But whether or not bad stuff is happening, bad things did happen. For you members who are reading this, did you know about the things that were happening then? How can you be sure those things aren't happening now? Some one stated in the comments, that things have changed because the Family consists of life-long friends, and many are related to each other. I think that the older generation considered themselves to be just as close and tight-knit back in the 80's and 90's. The biggest players in the cover-ups and abuses from my childhood, as well as Freckle's, Pnina's and others- they are the same today as then. They aren't the ones who left when Jack was exposed as a fraud, they are the ones who stayed, had kids, became leaders.
I don't think anyone has claimed that this is a cult that aims to abuse kids or beat up wives. That isn't the point. The point is that kids have been abused, and it is the culture of this group that, if not  making it happen directly, was complicit in it's continuation, and in sheltering the abusers and silencing the victims. And unfortunately,  a group of people who are close-knit or related does NOT decrease the likelihood of a child being abused in that group. In fact, if there is a pedophile or an abusive parent among them, the blind trust and accessibility to kids is ideal. Add the culture of secrecy and silence that exists in the Family, and there is the perfect opportunity. This is something I know all too well. I am not saying that kids are necessarily being abused right now. But don't be so quick to just assume that they aren't, or that it can't happen- your parents would have claimed the same thing 10 or 20 years ago, yet it was happening. There is no way to be sure.
I can tell you that some things have definitely NOT changed- the secrecy that is required of members, and the distrust of outsiders and the "system".
There are plenty of times that I second-guess myself and want to believe that things have changed for the better, and that the Family has made positive changes. That is when I remind myself that the basic tenets of the cult have not changed. Until they do, it will always be suspect in my eyes.

It is ridiculous to have to rehash this again, but I feel it is necessary. Why is there still debate over whether there was abuse within this cult? Whether it is directly or by default, the members and leadership are culpable for things that happened in the past, as well as for things that didn't happen, such as the reporting of crimes and suspected abuse.
There were KNOWN crimes that occurred. Must I point them out once again?
1) A child was raped by two older boys, brothers, the sons of a clan head. People knew about it. Leadership knew about it. The girl was never helped. The boys were never held accountable (or helped either, for that matter). Their clan head father gave the girl's family a new car to console them. I'm sure this wasn't much consolation for the girl. Not only was nothing done, this child was forced to be face to face with her attackers over and over for years, and not allowed to be bothered by it.
Better yet, the dad treated the girl and her family to a Family trip to Spain where they got to hang out with these boys and their family. Nice, huh?
Yes, these boys grew up and continue to be members of the Family.

2.) The dad mentioned above is a pedophile, and is a convicted sex offender. He has held leadership positions in the past despite this being known. I don't know the extent of his early behavior in the Family, but he was and experienced creepo as time went on. He lost his license to practice chiropractic in Colorado due to sexual misconduct. Youth in the Family were forbidden to have contact with him for a little while in the late 90's due to his questionable behavior and motivations involving young person(s) in the group. Then he apologized for gossiping or speaking against the elders or something dumb and everything was ok again. He was arrested for criminal mischief in Maine. He was arrested and convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor in Wyoming. He lived in Maine for a few years before he got arrested in Wyoming- I saw him at all the events and meetings. No one seemed concerned that he was around their children despite knowing of his history. Is he still involved? I am not sure, but since he lives in Florida, I have not run into him lately.

3) Pnina's family was known to be "unsafe". Jack himself recommended that other parents not let their children spend the night there because it was not a safe place for them. The dad is known to behave sexually inappropriately. He attempted to rape another adult member a few years ago.
One of the sons in the family is a convicted pedophile. Kids in that family were raped. Nothing happened and nothing was ever reported. Yes, the parents are still full active members who I see often. They love spending time with children, and love participating in activities with the family school.

4.) Another family was known to be abusive. The dad is a clan head and was an Elder. One of the daughters was put into foster care. The elders all knew, but did anything happen? No. Was anybody aware of the abuse before she was taken? Yes, they did. Being a mandated reporter only means something when it involves children who are not in the Family. Abensur kids are in a different category, and are not subject to the laws of the system.

5) Most of you have read Freckle's blog and know about her experiences. I need not say more.
Go back and read it again, as well as Pnina's. Maybe you missed something.

I could keep going. You already know some of my story, and it doesn't need to be repeated.
 Of course, this doesn't include the antics of Jack, who had inappropriate, if not illegal, sexual relationships with teenage boys. But that was so long ago, so it doesn't matter anymore, right?
Never mind the fact that the leadership then still exists now. And Jack doesn't control things from the grave? Yes, yes he does actually.

Waawaawaa and anonymous, what is it you don't get? Do you really believe these things don't matter? For those of you who say that things are different now- doesn't that mean you acknowledge that something was wrong then? If so, How do those leaders explain themselves? For you youth out there- we all grew up together. Have you ever asked your parents what they knew? What they know now?

I've gone way off course here. I won't keep rehashing the same stuff we all know. It just continues to boggle my mind that it is so easy to dismiss these things. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. Unless I am seeing this from a very skewed perspective, some things will always boggle my mind.
Yet some of the anger has dissipated since I began this blog more than a year ago. The need to get things out was incredibly overpowering at times, but I don't feel the need to put things into words quite as intensely as I did. But it's still there, so I'll keep going. I haven't run out of things to say, not yet anyway. As long as the Family is still organized and moving, I'll have something to say about it.

On another subject;
There are a couple comments that mention a lawsuit of some sort. Just to be clear, I am not a part of anything along those lines. I'm not sure where that is coming from, but it seems unlikely that a lawsuit could ever come to pass in regards to the Family. First of all, who would be sued?
Jack? He's dead. A fraud for sure, but nonetheless, dead. I don't believe there is any legitimacy behind that idea/rumor.
Keep in mind also that posting Jack's ancestry wouldn't make something like a lawsuit any more feasible. There is no smoking gun here. You may know his great grandma's name and where she was from, but does that prove anything about whether or not she was a secret descendant of Jesus? Not really. You are still going to need to use your own reasoning abilities and decide for yourself how likely some of his claims were. And as one poster mentioned, does it really matter? What if some evidence was uncovered at some point that proved he was a secret Jew from wherever? It wouldn't change the fact that he was a liar, a narcissist, a fraud and a predator. He was that, no matter what else he was.

-Until next time