Updated 08/07/2012 10:31 PM
Tangled Web, Part 2: Woman Behind Outspoken Website Addresses Sexual Abuse Among Orthodox Jews
The new website AdKanEnough.com is shattering the taboo topic of sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish community, but the fact that it even exists could be considered by some to be something of a miracle. NY1's Josh Robin explains that in this second part of "Tangled Web," his series on the struggles of Orthodox Jews and the Internet.
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The website AdKanEnough.com is named after the Hebrew phrase "ad kan," meaning "enough." As in, enough of sexual abuse and enough of leaders in the observant Jewish community who the website's creator feels are doing nothing about it.
"I decided that I needed to warn people," says the woman who runs the website, here called "Debbie Teller." She runs the site anonymously and asked NY1 to shield her identity.
"If they were to know who I was, I think I could be in a lot of trouble," says Teller. "They could ostracize me and my family. My kids, they could throw my kids out of school. They could hurt me professionally, threaten -- I mean, people have had their houses burned down when they've come forward about someone molesting one of their kids."
Teller says talking of sexual abuse is seen as breaching traditions of modesty. A long history of persecution also leaves some Jews averse to turning in one another.
But she posts warnings about those she says are sexual predators. Identified through tipsters, she tries to verify them. Some have not been arrested.
"I would not be able to do what I'm doing without the Internet," she says.
"In launching her own site, Teller found her own voice, laid bare in her personal blog.
Molested by her father, Teller was later raped by another man. Her rabbi forced them to marry.
She left him, but she married again to another abusive husband who she is now divorcing. He demanded she take down the site as part of their settlement.
"That was the first time I really stood up for myself, and I said 'No,'" Teller says.
Another challenge is calls from observant Jews to limit Internet use in general.
As for AdKanEnough.com, Internet traffic has not gone down. If anything, it has gone up, with up to 1,500 unique users visiting it every day, including some who share their own stories of abuse.
Teller encourages others to reveal their pain.
"They're going to synagogue and they're religious and it just makes me feel that that is happening to other people, and we can support each other. We're not alone," Teller says.