Abuse victims’ advocates turn to the Internet

March 19, 2012

Increasingly, victims’ advocates are taking to the Internet.

In November, Debbie Teller, a 40-year-old Brooklyn-based blogger, launched a Web site called “AD-KAN,” a Hebrew phrase used to make the point “enough is enough.”

“I wanted to reach out to people for so long, but [the sex-abuse scandal at] Penn State was what gave me the push to come forward,” said Teller, who said she was a victim of sexual abuse. Her site and others such as Jewish Community Watch — formerly Crown Heights Watch, which was launched in July 2011— are important resources for the Orthodox community, she said. Teller’s site is modeled on earlier Jewish watchdog sites, such as failedmessiah.com and theunorthodoxjew­.blogspot.com. She hopes that together the sites will serve the same purpose as BishopAccountability.org, which listed accused abusers within the Catholic Church.

“We are breaking the silence in the frum [religious] community, and more people are getting online to tell their stories every day,” said Chaim Levin, 22, who was raised in the Chabad-Lubavitch community, an ultra-orthodox branch of Hasidic Judaism. Levin recently began blogging about the sexual abuse that he says he experienced at age 19 at an Orthodox Jewish counseling center in Jersey City. (The center — JONAH, or Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality — did not return calls or e-mail requests for comment.) Levin, who is now openly gay and no longer religious, still lives in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which is the Hasidic movement’s headquarters.

“Our goal is to capture the eyes and ears of the world,” said Levin, who earlier this month traveled to Georgetown University to speak about abuse on “Faith Complex,” a campus TV talk show about religious issues.

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