Supporting Survivors of Abuse

Written by Carrie Bornstein, Acting Director at Mayyim Hayyim

Every immersion at Mayyim Hayyim is unique.  Each person brings his own reason for visiting, her own story.  But when I think of all the stories I have been blessed to know, one in particular comes to mind:

“Marci” visited from out of town after she was sexually assaulted by someone she had considered a friend.  Her mother (not knowing about us), suggested she might use the mikveh for healing.  Marci went online, came across our website, and scheduled a flight for her journey of hundreds of miles.

She also used the opportunity to reconnect with a friend of hers, a rabbi, whom she had not seen in years.

After sharing our ceremonies and resources, and placing her in the supportive care of one of our Mikveh Guides, she emerged from the water and said, “I didn’t think it would happen, but it worked.”

She then wrote in our guest book:

“Thank you for having a place like this – where safety and warmth radiate from the moment the door is opened, where compassion, patience, and understanding reign, where we may come to be made whole and know that our style and healing are respected.  Thank you also for the care that has been evident throughout, from first contact to the last bite of strawberry.  Leeann [her Mikveh Guide], Carrie, Anita – you are a blessing, and I hope the living waters will continue to strengthen you as you strengthen us.”

For three years, Mayyim Hayyim has been the proud recipient of a grant from the Boston Jewish Community Women’s Fund.  With their support, and in partnership with the angels at Journey to Safety at Jewish Family & Children’s Service, we have worked to make sure we are as welcoming as possible to survivors of abuse. We have provided extra training to our Mikveh Guides, staff, & board, offered a workshop for healing professionals who work with Jewish survivors of abuse, and were featured in “From Living Waters” and “I Believe You: Faith’s Response to Intimate Partner Violence” because of our work.

We’ve developed curriculum based on our trainings, are engaging in a campaign to reach out to clergy to raise awareness, and much, much more.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.  Throughout the upcoming weeks, we will post stories of abuse and survival, like Marci’s, and like the others whose stories we wish never had to happen.  Please stay tuned for more to come.

Carrie Bornstein is Mayyim Hayyim’s Acting Executive Director.  Follow her on twitter @carolinering.

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