||National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse
- Feature Article -
|EDITOR'S NOTE: Here are a few recent stories and feature articles from a variety of sources that are related to the kinds of issues we cover on our web site. They'll represent a small percentage of the information available to us, the public, as we fight to provide meaningful recovery services and help for those who've suffered child abuse. We'll add to and update this page regularly, bringing you just a few of the featured articles on the web site.
|| Justifying ‘Institutional Enabling'
by Bill Murray, NAASCA founder and CEO
At the National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse (NAASCA) we recognize a phenomenon we call ‘Institutional Enabling' as a common yet powerfully destructive force whereby an organization, group or leader of a group tacitly or implicitly takes a stand that's against the well-being of child sexual abuse victims and still-suffering survivors.
By implication this choice is tantamount to taking the side of the predator. At best the message is that an organization, be it a club, a church, a school system, a professional group, a charity or a for-profit business, is ‘circling the wagons' to self-protect, and at worse that it repudiates the experiences and testimony of the wounded party.
We've been active in the protest of such an effort, that of ‘Whole Foods' CEO John Mackey, who until recently directly supported his associate, Marc Gafni, a former rabbi turned spiritual guru, on the official Whole Foods web site, and by serving as Chairman of the Board of Mr. Gafni's ‘Center for Integral Wisdom'.
Gafni's presence on the web site has been largely eliminated, and Mackey has left his position as Chair.
But Mackey still supports Gafni publicly, particularly upsetting to many who are following the issue, because one cannot separate Mackey, the individual, from Mackey, the ‘Whole Foods' CEO.
John Mackey's public position is that Gafni enjoys "the presumption of innocence," and Conscious Capitalism, Inc., the global nonprofit that Mackey co-founded, says that should be the end of it.
But Marc Gafni has admitted his guilt.
At issue is the all-too-believable story of Sara Kabakov, now middle aged, about what happened to her as a youngster at the hands of Marc Gafni. Her full story, as report in early 2016, certainly rings true to me, and I have heard thousands of similar reports as I've worked with child abuse survivors over the 30 years I myself have been in recovery.
"I was 13 years old," she wrote, when Marc Gafni, a rabbinical student and popular youth leader at the time, began to abuse her, right under her parents' noses and while staying in their home. "He was 19 or 20 years old," she continues. "He offered to tutor me in Talmud." Just as is common with many-a-predator, he demanded she keep ‘the secret.' And she did.
Under the draconian New York State statute of limitations laws for reporting this type of crime a child sex abuse victim must file civil suits against those they hold accountable for their abuse by the time they are 23.
Many experts and activists, myself included, note that that it frequently takes decades for someone who has been abused as a child to come forward. Most keep ‘the secret' well into adulthood. It's typically revealed in one's early 40s.
John Mackey has chosen to avoid the issues, in denial that Gafni has any responsibility.
When Sara was 23, she explains, “I was still trying to get away,” She goes on, “I was unable to think about what had happened to me.”
At 38, Sara finally felt ready to move forward on legal grounds. “And this is when I discovered that I had no recourse,” she writes. “It was 15 years too late.”
Eventually Sara decided to take definitive action. "In 1994, I wrote a letter to Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, who had ordained Gafni, and told him my story. I never received a response." (Riskin has since rescinded Gafni's ordination, and numerous other rabbis have renounced him).
In an article in 2004 the ‘New York Jewish Week' spoke with a then-anonymous Sara Kabakov, who said a 19-year-old Marc Gafni (born Mordechai Winiarz) had “repeatedly sexually assaulted” her, beginning in 1980. And Gafni felt free to admit it, saying, “She was 14 going on 35, and I never forced her.”
I can only surmise that Mackey has chosen to be in denial. The article includes additional reports of sexual impropriety with other girls and young women dating back to that time.
There is no “presumption of innocence” here. There's an escape from justice. And it's an escape that‘s available and all too well known by clever predators in New York State.
It should also be noted that Sara, who has since gone public, is not the only childhood sexual assault victim who's now come forward to accuse Gafni. It's extremely rare that predators have single victims. Most have dozens and dozens through a lifespan.
John Mackey continues to besmirch the reputation of his “Whole Foods' by obeisantly participating in his ‘Institutional Enabling.' He is the voice and face of ‘Whole Foods,' and he risks the investments his stockholders and customers have made in the fabulously successful company.
He also perpetuates the myth that victim can ‘just get over it' and that leopards change their spots.