Esti, 20, was a seemingly carefree, sheltered teen who grew up in the heart of Brooklyn, hub of Orthodox society. Like many of her peers, she was born into a large, close-knit family, walked the walk and talked the talk of a typical Jewish Orthodox girl. She attended a sought-after all-girls school, was active in her shul, and was accepted into a top-notch seminary in Israel.
While in seminary, Esti finally summoned up the courage to confide in her housemother that she had been molested for three years by her older brother and wanted to seek help. With genuinely positive intentions, the middle-aged woman replied that Esti should never mention it again. “You’ll be dating soon, my dear! Why risk destroying your reputation and everything you’ve worked to achieve?” she gawked at her with a disappointed shake of the head.
The girl obediently retreated, assuring her housemother that she would, indeed, never dare to mention it again. Esti’s story might well have been silenced permanently had she not been introduced several months later to Gila. The two young women hit it off and became very close, until one day, Esti divulged her dark secret. Instead of the denial and rejection that Esti had previously encountered, Gila confessed that she, too, had once been victimized, but had appealed to Amudim, an association and crisis center combating sexual abuse and addictions in the Orthodox community, for help and was since doing great. Gila strongly encouraged Esti to call Amudim, but her housemother’s scandalized reaction still seared too deeply in her conscious, and Esti couldn’t bring herself to make the call.
It took another full month before Gila invited Esti out for a long walk, in the course of which she showed her Amudim’s PSA “Shattered.”
“I watched the clip once, twice, and three times, and then I just broke down and cried and cried,” relates Esti. “Gila handed me her phone, I called Amudim, and then I cried some more. I was so relieved that someone was finally willing to address the issue.”