Eishes Chayil is the pseudonymous author of “Hush,” a young-adult novel about sexual abuse inside the Jewish community.
The Jewish Star: What motivated you to write this book?
Eishes Chayil: The reality too many children face. Watching the agony of sexual abuse victims is not something one forgets. Ever.
JS: Do you believe what happens in the book reflects a reality inside the Charedi community?
EC: I don’t believe. I know. When I showed the book to a man heavily involved with victims of abuse he asked me, “Which suicide did you base this on? Because there were quite a few of those...”
JS: What kind of pressure to girls and boys who are sexually abused face inside the community?
EC: It is expected that the victim will protect the community from their scars. It is expected that the victims will protect them from the crimes they have allowed to happen.
JS: Why did you write the book under a pseudonym?
EC: Because I am not the point. With such a book it is too easy for the author to become the target, instead of the real issue.
JS: Is the situation regarding sexual abuse getting better inside the Charedi community?
EC: There is more awareness, finally. After several suicides, and hundreds in the streets, on drugs, there is certainly more awareness. Finally. They still have a long, long way to go. The pressures of family, honor, shidduchim, are still the same, and most parents still have no idea whatsoever how to really handle such a situation.
JS: Are parts of this book based on your own life?
EC: Obviously. Sexual abuse was endemic due to its denial. One of the shocks to me when I began reaching out was how common this was, how so many have suffered. One of the shocks to me was looking back and realizing as an adult how many I have known personally who have been abused or known someone abused, but we were unable to make the connection as children. And suddenly our entire world looked like a very different place.