26-year-old Nachi Pasikov grew up in a Haredi community in Jerusalem. He was abused as a for the first time at the age of six. He was interviewed for Kaan’s new program “We’re Not Silent”:
“I remember playing in the street when a young man approached me. He started to touch me. When he tried to take off my pants, I ran away as fast as I could. The first thing I did was blame myself. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the wrong people. I didn’t tell anyone, because if I had, I would’ve just been silenced. So I brushed it off.
“The first time I was abused was when I was six or seven. I was playing in the park as all children do. I was a curious kid. I saw a passerby, a bearded Avrech (Kollel student). He offered me a candy. He took me into a bathroom, where he started touching himself, then me. I managed to run away. Afterward, when I would see him on the street, I would cross to the other side, because I knew he was a bad person. But nobody ever taught me the term “sex criminal,” or that I needed to beware of them. That’s why I was abused routinely, again and again.
“When I was 12, a month before my Bar Mitzvah, I went to the Mikvah for the first time. I was excited, it was my first chance to have this very special experience. I had eagerly awaited this moment. It’s a rite of passage, a coming of age. When I went into the water, I could feel hands touching me all over my body. I didn’t know what to do. I got out of the water, got dressed, and left as quickly as I could. I told my father I wasn’t going to return to the Mikveh.
“The meaning of these abuses only began to dawn on me around the age of 14-15. When you’re in a Haredi community, you can’t just go to the police. Haredi society has sexual abusers, just like every other community. The problem is that even if you do complain, nothing will happen. To this day, the person who attacked me is still free to hurt kids. If only people would talk more about this issue instead of silencing victims, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been abused again after the first time because I would have known how to react to these situations.
“When you start asking questions and reading about the issue on the internet, you begin to understand what sexual abuse actually is. You realize that there’s no connection between religion and the culture of silence surrounding abuse. Every time a child is hurt, it’s a traumatic event. Every person you see becomes a suspect, someone who could hurt me, someone who could touch me.
“I’m sure there are many children and teens out there whose wounds haven’t healed, who continue to relive their abuse and hold on to that pain. What happens to survivors of child molestation who grow up in a culture that turns a blind eye to abuse? I don’t know, but I imagine it’s a life filled with pain.”