I have always had sympathy for victims of crime, with a special emphasis on the horrid crime of pedophilia as it has been in the news for long, with history now being revealed, and now we have the Pell fiasco. My blog stands testimony to my revulsion. Recently, I had a victim come to my house and share an entire bottle of whisky (and herring) with me. I did not even know he was a victim. In fact, I had only met him once overseas for a very short moment and he just seemed like a nice bloke. He reached out to me for some reason and said he needed to drink. It was in the mid-morning, after davening, but I can’t say no if someone reaches out to me in that way. He cried and cried in the middle of our chit-chat in our backyard (the whisky must have caused him to let his guard down) and I felt great pain and empathy for him. What could I do? I could only offer moral support, and keep him happy with a drink and excellent herring (thanks to my wonderful wife who was on hand to replenish).
I was reading the papers, and I’m on record on my blog (right from the beginning) as being someone who demanded long ago that Malka Leifer be brought to answer the court. (Believe me, I got lots of hate comments from fake names when I did that, with some personal and disgusting comments).
I noticed some people have the view that they found it bizarre that Leifer could get anxious before going to a court. I re-thought this, and realised that unless people are being misquoted (and yes, they are welcome to correct the record) I find the thought itself bizarre. I can not get my head around someone not understanding that even a criminal does get anxious and could even suffer an attack of severe anxiety when they face a court/police and the like. Even if someone was completely innocent (which I’m not implying at all in this case) they would have to be a really detached person, or have a mental condition to not be severely anxious.
I’m aware that one such convicted criminal was seemingly detached. I find that bizarre and worrying. It means he hasn’t yet understood what he did. That is a starting point. Him saying Tehillim, as he purportedly did is sheerly cruel and beyond me. I still can’t begin to understand that person’s disease and believe me, I faced up to him nose to nose on these issues and made enemies for having the guts to do so.
There is medication to help someone overcome their anxiety short-term during such proceedings, and ultimately, the Israeli court Psychiatrist will decide if Laufer is mad or normal and just a terribly afraid person. Given her cloistered world I’d imagine she’d be terrified. However, to say that it is bizarre that she is anxious is itself bizarre in the extreme! I would like to see her face the music, and if she has to be calmed to not get frazzled, so be it. Do it! Give her prescribed Benzodiazepines and she should be okay for that period of her trial. Humans, even some criminals, do get frazzled when under pressure. It’s human nature, no?
This is also a sad side effect of these types of events. Those who have been wronged sometimes can err and also say bizarre things, or act in bizarre ways. Alas, there probably isn’t a quick pill they can take to “fix” the damage. I just pray that they regularly see professionals who will help them renormalise their lives so that their scars don’t manifest themselves by making bizarre statements (or acting in a bizarre fashion … which I am not saying about anyone in particular).
Victims deserve great Rachmonus from God, to heal them immediately from the after effects of what was a horrid experience. I sincerely hope each victim does see skilled professionals regularly, and doesn’t just try to heal themselves through home-brewed approaches or life-long vengeance that won’t ever be quelled even when the perpetrator is behind bars and compensation is paid and apologies made.
This is serious stuff and requires skilled psychiatrists or (when no medication is needed) psychologists. And please, forget dubious counsellors. They are not the right people for these things. They don’t have a formal association or a code of conduct, let alone the proper level of training. Moishe Kapoyer can become a counsellor just because he thinks he is. Sadly, I know some very dubious counsellors in Melbourne, and some good ones. Unfortunately, many people are taken in by dubious counsellors who themselves need help.
Let’s hope that victims seek the best medical attention regularly. Statements that Malka Laufer should not be expected to be panicked are not edifying in the least and probably do more harm than good.