A Utah Orthodox rabbi said his childhood nanny sexually abused him for 10 years. Here's why he decided to tell his story for the first time

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  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    Feb. 11, 2019 11:41 a.m.

    Thank you, Rabbi, for helping our community and youth acknowledge that a sexual relationship between an adult and a teen is abuse, even if the teen can be convinced that they are participating by choice. Youth are vulnerable and these stories help prevent abuse.

  • NYRfan New Rochelle, NY
    Feb. 7, 2019 5:59 a.m.

    Rabbi Avremi, both you and your father have ministered to my child who is in school in Utah. I have no doubt that your personal experience that you have now brought forward has shaped some of who you are. But I can tell you that my child's interactions with you have clearly been filled with warmth, support, and love. However atrocious this despicable woman's actions were, somehow you were able to develop into such a caring a supportive role model for others. May Hashem continue to give you the strength to care for others as you have for my child.

  • mominthetrenches South Jordan, UT
    Feb. 7, 2019 12:05 a.m.

    Thank you, Rabbi Zippel, for being willing to share and Deseret News for publishing such a bittersweet, honest account. So glad you have been able to turn to your own, personal faith, to work through things-I don't understand why so many young people have to go through such an awful ordeal, but I am grateful for your courage to discuss this, so others who suffer in silence, may find hope too. I have no doubt that you must be such a compassionate, kind and loving husband, father and spiritual leader. This article has broken my heart to read, but has also touched me to the core and you, Rabbi, are an inspiration to me. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family as you move forward. Our community supports and loves you!

  • DJane Orem, UT
    Feb. 6, 2019 11:57 p.m.

    Such a moving article, I was profoundly touched. Having the courage to speak out will give others their courage to speak out against sexual abuse. You are an inspiration to your faith and an example of not only perseverance despite pain, but the determination to see justice served. Thank you Rabbi!

  • QuiltingNonnie Santa Rosa, CA
    Feb. 6, 2019 11:19 p.m.

    Thank you is not good enough to tell you how deeply your story impacted me. I was sexually abused, starting when I was eight. I never told anyone either. Reading your words moved me to tears. The part where you wrote: "It was never going to be over, it was never going to end. My life was irrevocably damaged..." I have felt that so many times, but I've never heard a survivor say it. Thank you so much. You are a wonderful person; thank for sharing your story with the Deseret News.

  • Slymet Land O Lakes, FL
    Feb. 6, 2019 8:12 p.m.

    I am so sorry for what you endured and the spiritual and emotional torment, you unjustly suffered. I think it is so important for parents to encourage their children to discuss with them anyone who touches them inappropriately, and to bring it up early in their lives that if anyone touches them they need to be taught what to say and how to handle it. There are too many sick people out there who will give you an excuse that they are actually helping you to become a good husband or wife or providing sex education when they are not doing you any good at all. I am glad the perpetrator is finally being brought to justice. Most perpetrators have multiple victims so I wonder whether she has victimized others as well.

    I'm sure you have helped others by coming forward. There is no acceptable excuse for this type of behavior.

  • Nancy Lee ,
    Feb. 6, 2019 7:52 p.m.

    Thank you, Rabbi Zippel, for finding the strength to bring your experience into the light. By self-disclosing, you are now in a position to offer great strength and empathy to fellow sufferers. Indeed, you are a hero, and I admire you.

    May G-d bless you and your lovely family as you continue healing.

  • timpanogos2 Lehi, UT
    Feb. 6, 2019 8:52 a.m.

    This is a very sad story, but also a beautiful story of overcoming. Thank you for sharing. I am sure you have helped so many. I pray that you will be blessed in your life with your beautiful family, and always feel the love of God with you.
    I hope you enjoy being here in Utah and always feel welcome and loved. I grew up in New York as a Latter-day Saint, and all of my neighbors and friends were Jewish. You are an inspiring and peaceful people.

  • Coyoteghost Saint George, UT
    Feb. 6, 2019 8:13 a.m.

    While I applaud the survivor for having the courage to make public his abuse, my thoughts go to the abuser. What was her background, what was common in her culture, what did she experience growing up?

  • Watching63 ,
    Feb. 6, 2019 8:02 a.m.

    Rabbi Zippel is to be commended for his strength and courage to speak out and be of help to others around him. He is a champion among us.

  • Moishy Freund , NY
    Feb. 6, 2019 7:00 a.m.

    Wow, touching story, & thumbs up to Rabbi Avremi Zippel for coming out!

    Growing up (& living) in a Chassidic community myself, & unfortunately went through a very similar experience (not a nanny, but a 'very close' family member) I can see myself in & relate to almost every part of the story..

    & I know of so many other people going through this in silence & isolation, if only more could be done to talk about it, educate, & support, in such a nice & not-bashful manner.

    Thanks for this painful but beautiful article!

  • whoever Israel, 00
    Feb. 6, 2019 7:00 a.m.

    Does your face feel like it's burning? It must be a very intense day for you. I wish you all the best. I hope you will find creative ways to use this violation of your childhood to make you a very compassionate and sensitive rabbi for the many people you will counsel. You will certainly never be inclined to disbelieve someone who says they are being victimized and always be willing to provide confidential help. There are many of us out here who know how hard it is to do what you have just done and how exposed you must feel at this moment. May you always be surrounded with love and compassion and pass that on to those who suffer. Although it's true that it never goes away, Hashem only does good, so I'm sure that you will find a way to use it for ultimate good. It's the way of a child to take responsibility for that for which he is not responsible. A therapist once said something to me that really allowed me to reframe my guilt. She asked, "What would you tell your little child who had such a thing happen to them?" It was crystal clear that I would never blame my child in this situation. I'm sure that your pain has developed a heart of tender flesh inside you. All the best

  • little bird Mobile, AL
    Feb. 6, 2019 6:17 a.m.

    I am grateful that you had the strength to speak up . . . for the sake of others. You are an example of what other children should know about abuse. As to your own thoughts regarding your self image: a church leader told me, what had happened would be with me all of my life. A counselor told me: when you have doubts about yourself, look in the mirror and say, 'I am an adult now. That was in the past. I am a good person and the past can't hurt me any longer.' It sounds simple --- perhaps too simple --- but it does help. I also remember an old saying: your friends don't need an explanation, your enemies wouldn't believe one anyway. I've read many books on the subject of abuse and I agree with the basic advice: you don't have to give people an explanation, sometimes simply say no, should be enough. In other words, be kind to yourself; if you don't feel up to doing something, simply say no.

  • Fullypresent Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 9:33 p.m.

    Thanks for speaking up and sharing your painful story. Peace to you.

    For the woman that did these terrible things to him for 10 yrs. she should have life in prison. What she did is so sick and sad.

  • Golden Rules Okay, OK
    Feb. 5, 2019 8:33 p.m.

    So grateful for strong people like this rabbi and Elizabeth Smart and their families who are willing to talk publicly about their stories. Our society is better off because of it.

  • KJPM Orem, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 7:28 p.m.

    Thank you for sharing your story. Blessings for you and your family. Be strong. I like what the police said, “you are a survivor.” You can do anything.

  • Chungman St George, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 7:07 p.m.

    Excellent story! The Deseret News needs to keep this story on the front page for as long as possible.

  • Justinstitches American Fork, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 6:52 p.m.

    Blessings on Rabbi Zippel for finding the strength and the courage to seek help, to take back his life, and to share his horrible experience with others. He is definitely making a difference for others, especially in his faith community. Nobody is 100% safe from predators. Knowledge and “sunlight” help in protecting against it and in helping survivors find their footing in their new normal.

    Thank you for sharing his story.

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 6:56 p.m.

    Every person who has ever defended a sexual predator because she was physically attractive, who claims every teenage boy wants to have sex with an older woman, who has downplayed the effects of sexual assault on adolescent boys, needs to read this story and really put himself in the place of Rabbi Zippel.

    Momentary physical pleasure does not overcome the emotional, psychological, and spiritual damage done when an older, trusted person, takes advantage of a younger, vulnerable victim.

    In particular, read these words from Rabbi Zippel:

    “My life was irrevocably damaged when I was 8 years old. I’m not fixed, I never will be. I never had a chance at a normal childhood, I never had a chance to have a normal teenage experience, without my mind having been severely warped. It’s gone. It was taken from me,” [Zippel] said.

    No more excuses. No more light sentences for female abuses. No more "too pretty for jail."

    Adults do not get to have sexual relations with children nor adolescents.

  • Robert Kuesterman West Valley City, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 6:33 p.m.

    This a remarkable, excellent story; one the Deseret News should be particularly proud of.

  • SKPerry Provo, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 6:27 p.m.

    Blessings to Rabbi Zippel for his bravery. I pray he’ll find peace as he continues his life of service and finds new ways to be an influence for good in the world. What a beautiful little family he and his wife have!

  • durwood kirby , 00
    Feb. 5, 2019 6:15 p.m.

    Hats off to the rabbi for undertaking this challenge. Of course, due process is warranted, nevertheless.

  • NeifyT Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 5, 2019 5:53 p.m.

    Further this line in the article points out a sad state of affairs:

    "Bored and listless, he found an old DVD of 'Law and Order: Special Victims Unit' that a friend had let him borrow (despite its sometimes graphic content, "Law & Order" was permitted by his parents because Rabbi Zippel was now older)...." Goes on to say he realized from a TV show that he was abused. He was an adult and didn't know he was abused. Why? Because the State of Utah doesn't allow that kind of discussions in schools; because his family didn't allow him to discuss that kind of thing; because his church didn't allow it to be discussed; etc.

    When we as a culture try to "shield" children from the "sins of the world" and refuse to teach them about their bodies; the are extremely vulnerable to being abused and never even knowing it!

    We need Comprehensive Sex Education to be REQUIRED in the public school system starting no later than Kindergarten; if we want to even begin to address the epidemic (even endemic) child abuse in Utah.