When Your Trauma Informs Your Turn Ons

When Your Trauma Informs Your Turn Ons

Why do some people enjoy physical pain or become aroused by it? For Kal, the discovery came with a lot of complications; he was a young boy and it was at the hands of a powerful and sadistic pedophile Rabbi (Heshy Brier) who is now a fugitive living in Israel. Kal shares about his years of self-destruction and bottoming out before eventually getting sober and starting the process of healing and advocating for other survivors.

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy. To try a week for free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  Must be 18.

This episode is sponsored by BlueApron. To get your first 3 meals free with FREE delivery, go to www.BlueApron.com/mental

To become a monthly donor (and qualify for bonus content and goodies from Paul like the upcoming raffle for a free hotel at LAPodfest Oct 6-8) go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

To learn more about LAPodfest go to www.LAPodfest.com
To help fund Paul’s next trip to record international guests, especially in Ireland, go to https://www.gofundme.com/pauls-trip-to-ireland

To make a one-time donations via Paypal go to www.mentalpod.com/donate

Help the podcast by shopping with our podcast’s Amazon link (it doesn’t make your product any more expensive – even bookmark it!)

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Episode notes:

Why do some people enjoy physical pain or become aroused by it? For Kal, the discovery came with a lot of complications; he was a young boy and it was at the hands of a powerful and sadistic pedophile Rabbi (Heshy Brier) who is now a fugitive living in Israel. Kal shares about his years of self-destruction and bottoming out before eventually getting sober and starting the process of healing and advocating for other survivors.

This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp online therapy. To try a week for free go to www.BetterHelp.com/mental  Must be 18.

This episode is sponsored by BlueApron. To get your first 3 meals free with FREE delivery, go to www.BlueApron.com/mental

To become a monthly donor (and qualify for bonus content and goodies from Paul like the upcoming raffle for a free hotel at LAPodfest Oct 6-8) go to www.Patreon.com/mentalpod

To learn more about LAPodfest go to www.LAPodfest.com
To help fund Paul's next trip to record international guests, especially in Ireland, go to https://www.gofundme.com/pauls-trip-to-ireland

To make a one-time donations via Paypal go to www.mentalpod.com/donate

Help the podcast by shopping with our podcast's Amazon link (it doesn't make your product any more expensive - even bookmark it!)

Episode Transcript:

Transcription services donated by Accurate Secretarial LLC. You can find them at www.AccurateSecretarial.com.

 

Welcome to Episode 342 with my guest Kal. I'm Paul Gilmartin. This is the Mental Illness Happy Hour, a place for honesty about all the battles in our heads, from medically diagnosed conditions, past traumas and sexual dysfunction to everyday compulsive negative thinking. The show is not meant to be a substitute for professional mental counseling. I'm not a therapist. It's not a doctor's office. It's more like a waiting room that doesn't suck.

The Web site for this show is Mentalpod.com. Mentalpod is also the Twitter handle that you can follow me at. And if I seem a little bit out of it tonight, it's about 2:00 in the morning my time on Wednesday, and I'm recording the show early. Normally I record it late Thursday nights Pacific Time and then post it just after, you know, midnight or 1:00 in the morning on Friday morning Pacific Time, but I'm going to be in San Francisco tomorrow for two days. I'm going to do some live podcasts, and so I fly out tomorrow and I'm juggling about 900 things right now.

The divorce paperwork is kind of, we're still in the midst of that, separating stuff financially. I'm getting kicked out of my apartment. I'm looking for a new place to live. It's, you know, it's all quality problems. I'm very grateful to have the life that I do. It just, I think the perfectionist in me wants to do everything perfectly and I'm just, I'm exhausted. I'm completely exhausted.

And so there aren't going to be much in the way of surveys for this episode, but the interview with Kal is one of my favorites. It's such a thoughtful, I’m not going to try to explain it.

What I want to tell you about, I had a moment about an hour ago that I, I just came from a hockey game, and I had a moment that, to me, kind of embodies what recovery looks like for me on a daily basis.

For me, it's about the little things that you do every day, and you do enough of those little things and then those build into what recovery, emotional recovery, or recovery from, you know, drinking or using drugs or whatever, you know, anybody's addiction is.

So I'm playing hockey, and I think because I've been stressed about where am I going to live, etc., I put a bid in on a house. I don't know if, houses are getting really expensive here and I don't know if it's, there will be enough money to get this house, but I really like it, and I don't know, even if they did accept the bid if I would be able to move in in time or if I'm going to have to move from this apartment to another apartment and then move in. So, it's just, all of this stuff is swirling around in my head that wants to do everything perfectly.

So I’m playing hockey, and I go to get the puck in the corner and this guy and I kind of mash up against each other, against the boards, and I'm trying to poke the puck, which is at his feet, and my hand kind of goes between him and the boards and he like chicken-wings my stick. He like clamps down on my stick. It's a trick that a lot of hockey players will do so the ref can't see that they're actually holding your stick.

And so he does that, and the smart thing to do when they do that to your stick is take your hand off your stick so then the ref can see this guy is holding your stick. So that's what I do. I pull my hands back, I look at the ref, and the ref's not doing anything.

And this guy, then, takes my stick with his hand and throws it [chuckles]. And the ref doesn't call a penalty, and I'm out of my mind at this point. It's just like, any emotional recovery is lost on me at this point, and this guy that had done this skates to the front of our net and one of his teammates is winding up to take a slap shot, and of course this guy is going to try to tip it in past our goalie.

So, I go blazing over there as fast as my old body will allow me and I bring my stick down to knock his stick out of the way, but because I'm so amped up, I completely miss his stick and just slash his kneepad, which was clearly a penalty, which the ref called. But in that moment, I was so upset that the ref didn't see, because they always call the retaliator. They never call the person that instigated the thing that pissed off the person that retaliated.

So I'm stewing in the penalty box and trying to calm myself down. A little [chuckles], a little later in the game, I fumbled the puck and I could hear this guy, because we were near his bench, I could hear him say to his teammates, that guy sucks [chuckles]. And I can just feel the rage building in me.

And I'm like, am I going to hit this guy? Am I going to, that is not the thing to do. That's not going to, yeah, it will make me feel better for about a minute, but it's not a good habit to get into. And I might hurt him or myself, who knows, so [sighs] I don't do anything. I just try to play hard and clean as much as I can.

It's a tie game. It goes to a shootout. Our team doesn't score. Their team scores one goal, so it goes to their team next, and if they score, this penalty, or not penalty shot, but, why am I blanking on the name of it? Shootout attempt, they'll win, and who goes up to take it? This motherfucker [chuckles]. And I'm like, oh, Universe, are you really going to do this? Are you really going to have this motherfucker win the game [chuckles]?

And he did. He won the game. And I was like, oh, God, I so want to say something, you know, because then you do the handshake line afterwards, and that's, to me, is where recovery really comes in, because that is where I make myself do the right thing.

And I shook their hands. I complimented the guys that played well. Their goalie played great. I made sure to tell him that. I told this guy as he passed me, good game, good game, good game, and then I circled around and I skated up to him and I said, hey, I just want to apologize for slashing you, I was frustrated. And he was very, he was so, he was so kind about it. He said, oh, whatever [in gruff voice] [chuckles]. I don't even know what he mumbled.

But the point is, it wasn't about what I get from him. It's about me cleaning my soul, shrinking my ego, and reminding myself that I don't have power over people upsetting me or not upsetting me. I don't have power over how other people act to me. I can just choose how I react to it. And I was proud of myself, and I couldn't wait to come tell you guys.

Speaking of recovery, I've told you guys about our sponsor BetterHelp.com. I love them. It is a great online therapy service. If you want to check it out, go to BetterHelp.com/mental. Make sure you include the slash mental part because then they'll know you came from the Web site and they'll continue, hopefully, to advertise with us because we do need advertising.

So, go there. Just fill out a questionnaire and then they'll match you up with a BetterHelp.com counselor and then you can experience a free week of counseling to see if online counseling is right for you. And you have to be over 18, and I highly recommend it. I've had a lot of listeners giving me great feedback about their experience with it, and I've been using a BetterHelp.com counselor now for about a year, and I love her. I love her.

What did I want to tell you? Here's a little tip for you guys. I’m, I think because of the self-induced stress lately, I've been doing some sugar eating at dawn [chuckles]. That's my new workout video, by the way, Sugar Eating At Dawn. It just shows me on a beach, and it's as the sun rises and it's just my belly and you think it might be a beached whale, and then I pop up and I say, are we ready to do [chuckles], are we ready to do some sugar eating?

But here's what I caught myself doing [chuckles], looking at myself in the mirror and inventing stretches so I don't look as fat. Like I notice I look great if I pretend that I'm doing the wave among a group of people, or I'm reaching to scratch the ceiling. My abs look terrific when I'm doing that. I hope that I don't run out of stretches because I just don't want to see that day.

But I want to tell you about our other sponsor Blue Apron. You know, I talk about self-care a lot on the podcast, and using Blue Apron is a really big part of self-care for me. Three, four times a week I will take time out, slow down, cook a delicious meal, not look at my phone, and there's just something so nice about doing nice things for yourself and not being in a hurry doing it.

Blue Apron is the number one fresh ingredient and recipe delivery service in the country. For less than 10 bucks a meal, they deliver seasonal recipes along with pre-portioned ingredients right to your door.

They are, you spend so much less time at the grocery store. Or what I do is, if I don't know when I'm going to eat, you know, before I started doing Blue Apron, I would just not eat at all, because I couldn't make my mind up, oh, do I feel like going somewhere or, you know, what do I have in the fridge.

I like having those three meals a week to look forward to. I'm learning stuff, learning things that I actually didn't learn when I was doing a cooking show for all those years. So here's some upcoming meals in August. Basil pesto chicken with summer vegetable panzanella. Sautéed shrimp and green beans with globe tomatoes, spinach and orzo pasta. Whole-grain pasta and summer vegetables with heirloom tomato caprese salad. Miso-butter salmon and lo mein noodles with cucumber and charm tomatoes. And meatball pizza with fresh mozzarella cheese and charm tomatoes. I'm looking forward to that one.

So check out this week's menu and get your first three meals free with free shipping by going to BlueApronl.com/mental. You'll love how good it feels and tastes to create incredible home-cooked meals with Blue Apron. So don't wait. That's BlueApron.com/mental. Blue Apron, a better way to cook.

Okay, I just want to read two surveys real quickly and then we'll get to the interview with Kal. This one is filled out by Sullen Artist, and she writes, this is a Happy Moment. She writes, listening to Dana Eagle, that's last week's guest, talk about her experience with her cousin coming out to her reminded me of when my cousin came out to me.

I'm pansexual and very open about it. At a family barbecue, my male cousin sat by me and asked if we could talk. He came out to me as bisexual and I assured him that it's fine. I'm proud of him for coming out, and we talked for a couple of hours.

A few months later, he came out on Facebook to his family and I spent the whole day reading comments, making sure I didn't have to fight anyone. Everybody was supportive and lovely, and he thanked me for helping him feel comfortable enough to come out. Now he has a boyfriend, has graduated high school on time after thinking he wouldn't, and I'm so incredibly proud of him.

That, you know, I never in my lifetime thought that I would hear a story of somebody coming out and having an entire family and even extended family be supportive. That is so awesome.

And then this is an Awfulsome Moment filled out by a guy who calls himself Dead Squiggly Line, and he writes, I haven't re-read my mom's suicide note in 20-plus years, since I first got it back from the morgue with her things. The only thing I remembered about it is that she incorrectly spelled loser.

 

[Show intro]

 

PAUL: I'm here with Kal, who is a friend from one of my support groups. And we actually have the same guy who kind of mentors us in the support group--

 

KAL: Correct.

 

PAUL: --and that's how I met you. And I don't remember how we got on the subject, but you started to tell me some of your childhood and I was like, hey, what are you doing Monday night? Come be on my podcast.

Before we dive into the specifics of it, you're how old?

 

KAL: I just turned 35.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: The last couple days, I was trying to figure out how to describe it, because I used to describe it in one way, but one way of putting it is, growing up an hour north of Manhattan and Jewish, insular culture, pre-World War II kind--

 

PAUL: Pre-World War II?

 

KAL: --yeah, kind of mentality.

 

PAUL: I see, so that some of the advancements in technology didn't really make their way . . .

 

KAL: Well, advancement in technology, yes, but the ideology of the community. So I sometimes describe it as a cult-like community, but it's, I don't know if you're familiar with like a Jewish shtetl, if you will--

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm, yeah.

 

KAL: --but it's a, men and women don't drive, or don't walk on the same side of the street.

 

PAUL: Was it Orthodox?

 

KAL: It's very Orthodox.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: Orthodox, Hasidic, so there is, men drive so there are cars that, it's not like horse and pony, but there is, they don't speak English. The only speak Yiddish. There's no English education. There's no TVs. There's no Internet unless if it's approved by a rabbi. Arranged marriages--

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KAL: So it's, when you walk into that community, which it is a gated community and you, it's impossible to find anyone who isn't Jewish and isn't exactly that particular sect living in that community.

 

PAUL: Really.

 

KAL: It's almost like a private, its own little town, with its own mayor, with its own rules, with its own--

 

PAUL: Really?

 

KAL: --security, if you will, almost like its own police--

 

PAUL: And the population of it would roughly be, then and now?

 

KAL: I don't know the exact number now, maybe 15,000 families.

 

PAUL: Okay. So pretty big.

 

KAL: It's pretty big. It's only grown. I mean, they have four to six classes per grade. I mean, there is, think about this. My grandmother, who was a survivor, a Holocaust survivor, she came here after the war, having lost 12 of her siblings. She had 12 kids. Every single one of her 12 kids had 12 to 17 kids.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God.

 

KAL: So I personally am one of 12 kids. I have 11 siblings. I'm one of 12. I have over 70 nieces and nephews. My grandmother, who's still alive, has over 500 great-great-great, think of like five generations of peopling, so it's a very, very large family, but that's normal for that community.

 

PAUL: How much of the template for having that many kids is part of Jewish orthodoxy and increasing the population to spread the message and maybe be safer, and how much is a reaction to the Holocaust, if any?

 

KAL: I would say it's neither as an intentional or conscious way of life, as in--

 

PAUL: Help me understand why somebody would want to have 12 kids. That's what I can't wrap my head around.

 

KAL: Well, think of, for example, my mother. She was, they had an arranged marriage when they were 17. When she was 18, she had her first child. Between 18 and 42, she was busy making babies, having children, either recovering or getting pregnant or having a year or two between and then getting pregnant again. And she almost died when she had her last child, and the doctor asked, would you like us to kind of close you up and prevent you from having children again, and her answer was, if God wants me to have another child, I'll have another child.

So there's a very interesting relationship between reality and their ideological belief system that everything is destined and everything is in God's hands, and there is a, them as mothers or as women is an obligation and a privilege to be living in purpose, and their purpose is to give birth to children. So, I don't think it's reactionary, certainly not consciously.

I mean, my grandmother will speak with pride, look at all these kids, they all came from me, like they couldn't erase us, they couldn't do away with us, they couldn't--

 

PAUL: But that wasn't the reason why.

 

KAL: It's not a why.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: The why is literally a religious mindset or a religious way of life. Them as women, they give, they just have children.

 

PAUL: Is there, is contraception a thing or is that frowned upon, kind of like--

 

KAL: No. It's frowned upon and only in recent years different forms of contraception has been introduced only in extreme mental illness or in extreme cases approved by a rabbi. So it's not even as a luxury or as a thing to do to prevent from having children. It is usually looked down upon.

 

PAUL: And how long has this particular, can you name the sect? Are you comfortable?

 

KAL: Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

PAUL: What is the sect?

 

KAL: So the name of the town is New Square, and the name of the sect is Square, like as in a square.

 

PAUL: S-q-u-a-r-e.

 

KAL: Yeah. Similar to like England, New England, York, New York. Square is a town in Ukraine, which is where that dynasty of religious sect came from.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

KAL: So they, their town is New Square.

 

PAUL: Ashkenazi.

 

KAL: Ashkenazi Jews, a part of the Square is one of the legs of the major Hasidic Ortho-, Hasidic movements that came from the Hasidic movement back in Russia. It's a fascinating culture. I mean, for a long, obviously for a long time, I had personal resentment and un-dealt-with stuff, having grown up in that world, but as a way of life, it's really, really interesting.

You walk in there and you see, even my own siblings, who have gotten married, had tons of kids and, it's like when you're going to wear what is predicted, when you're kind of going to get married is predicted, what you're going to do afterwards is predicted. It's unlike what you would find in normal life, you know--

 

PAUL: I would imagine to some people there is a certain amount of comfort, and ironically, freedom in that you're not laying awake at night saying, should I be doing this, should I be doing that, but if you find it the least bit stifling, it has to be a nightmare.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: What is, I don't normally get too political, but what is the, is there a stance on Zionism?

 

KAL: It's a very good question because most Orthodox groups, or most Jewish groups, do have a stand on it, as in there are Hasidic groups that are very anti-Zionist, anti-Zionistic, if that's a word, like Satmar, if you will.

 

PAUL: Like who?

 

KAL: There's a sect called Satmar, and they are--

 

PAUL: How do you spell that? I'm doing this for our transcriber--

 

KAL: I'll get it to you--

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Right now he or she is clapping their hands, saying, thank you, Paul.

 

KAL: With our community, we've always been very neutral. And I'm very amused that I'm saying our community, as in I haven't been a part of that community for most of my life, but they've always been very neutral, meaning the leader of the community was always known as, like even when there were intense public discourse between different groups, he was always the neutral one, never taking sides with any of them.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

KAL: So even when it comes to Zionism, there's a big, there's a large following of his Hasidic sect that live in Israel and they're not against the state. We usually have integrated very neutrally, as in if there's welfare to be taken, obviously they do. There's taxes to be paid, they do. They're not against, or kind of we've mostly taken advantage of the opportunity of being able to go back to Israel, whereas some other sects will, even if they would be living there, they would be living in communities that are very much outspoken against the state.

So I grew up with a very, with an intense love for Israel, and that was the natural place that I moved to or went to in my early teens. Like--

 

PAUL: Did you go serve?

 

KAL: I did not go to ser-, I did not serve, as in I did not become an Israeli citizen. I was there either on a student visa, work visas, and--

 

PAUL: Because if you do become a citizen, there's required military service--

 

KAL: You do have to serve, yeah.

 

PAUL: Right. For both men and women.

 

KAL: That's correct. So my daughter, who is now 13, when she turns 18, will either have to go to the army or do different forms of service. But yeah, that's been . . .

 

PAUL: What I'm trying to get a feel for is the mindset, you know, when you have a community that is, chooses isolation and to kind of distance itself from mainstream culture, society, whatever, to understand why, and because I would imagine that can't help but seep into the worldview the interpersonal views of the people raised within that--

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --especially the kids who have yet to question it.

 

KAL: Well, the answer to that question could be very much seen through the lens of, like we were sheltered from ever seeing the outside world. I was fortunate, and unfortunate, that I was, growing up, I was very curious. I was very, I had a grandfather who survived the Holocaust, had written two books about the Holocaust, spoke seven different languages, was this, one of my heroes, like, and this very, think of like a gentleman who went to university pre-war, helped hundreds of survivors through the war get fake papers and help them to survive, and like he was an activist. And he was in Brooklyn with this, with the founder of our town, like the founder of the current rebbe and--

 

PAUL: What's rebbe?

 

KAL: So the Square rebbe, who's the leader, the--

 

PAUL: Is that rabbi, is it just--

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Oh, okay.

 

KAL: So the Square rabbi, or rebbe, the head of our community--

 

PAUL: I wasn't sure if you meant that or Reba McEntire. A lot of people will confuse the two of them. Go ahead.

 

KAL: His father was the one who founded the community.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: So this founder asked my grandfather to help him physically build the town I grew up in, so when they went to Muncie, New York, when they went to Spring Valley, New York, where our town is, it was nothing but trees. I mean, it was literally they went into the woods to start their own little community.

So my grandfather, the reason why I'm saying that is, I had the opportunity to see the world very differently than a lot of people in that community. So, even growing up in such isolation, I was introduced to more openness than most people growing up in that world.

So here I am, I have a relationship with my grandfather and I've learned a lot about the war and whenever there was big things happening in the world, we would always hear that from him. My grandmother was the only woman that, one of the two women, I believe, growing up that was still driving in that community. So, my grandfather dressed differently, more modern, a lot more educated. My grandmother is driving. Like, we had different privileges because he had a very special relationship with the founding rebbe of the community.

 

PAUL: And was the founding rebbe living there as well? Who was the--

 

KAL: He had already passed.

 

PAUL: So who was the head person there--

 

KAL: So when I was growing up--

 

PAUL: --and I'm just going to guess it wasn't a woman.

 

KAL: It was not a woman. It was Rabbi Twersky, who's the current rabbi in New Square. And, but to kind of, to come back to your question, so I am growing up with a lot of [sighs], I remember growing up, I couldn't understand why people had to dress in a particular way. I wanted to dress my own way. And then--

 

PAUL: People in the community.

 

KAL: In the community, like kids, like you reach a particular age and you have to switch over from wearing a particular type of kippah to a bit like, the conformity is so integrated into that culture that you don't really have a choice. It's kind of like, you're this particular age now, you're supposed to do X, and if you don't like it go home and scream, but you're going to come back to school dressed in a particular way and doing things in a particular way.

 

PAUL: I went to Catholic grade school for eight years, so I can relate to a little bit of it.

 

KAL: A little bit [chuckles], yeah.

 

PAUL: Yeah, it's certainly a minor version of what you, but in terms of the uniform code, you know, if our hair touched our collar, the priest would come up behind you and grab, you know, that hair and kind of lift you up on your toes by it--

 

KAL: Ouch [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KAL: That does not sound traumatizing at all.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KAL: So I was a kid, I can't remember at what age, when I was recommended to go see a doctor for medication for depression and for acting out and for, think of like a soul who just grew up wanting to explore the world, wanting to be free, wanting to be able to ask questions, be able to explore, be able to just be me, and all through my childhood I was being stifled more and more.

So I almost feel, when I look back at my life, I kind of feel God had a sense of humor and just by mistake threw me into the wrong group of people. I didn't belong there.

So, as I was growing up, I have tons of siblings. I am, I didn't particularly feel very close to my parents. I used to joke, and I know it sounds a bit harsh, but the only time I knew my father really intimately was when he was beating me and I was laying in my own blood. Now, that wasn't regularly and he's not a rageful person and he was just a very, very pious, very disciplined person, but just the way he dealt with disciplining me was not a very particular effective way and was mostly beating us.

 

PAUL: Did you get the feeling that it was his belief that the harder he beat you the better it would work, or that he was also letting some of his personal anger out?

 

KAL: Well, I have to believe that was letting some of his anger out, but--

 

PAUL: Why do you have to believe that?

 

KAL: Because he, if he didn't have pent-up stuff, then I would think dialogue would be more of a natural--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: --more of a natural way of wanting to communicate, hey, you should be hanging out there, not with older boys or not in dark rooms or like--

 

PAUL: [Chuckles]

 

KAL: --he once found me in a room, rather like, hey, what's going on with you, are you feeling left out, like is there any way that you want to be seen that you're not being seen or you're not being appreciated, whatever healthy communication would come in, it wasn't that. It was more like, you should not have done it and now you're going to be beaten for it.

But sexual abuse started coming into my life around age eight and nine by the right-hand person of the Square rebbe. So think of where he lives and, right next to the temple, and they drive cars with sirens and lights, and it's almost like a police force of security. Whenever he would drive somewhere, they were always like flying with lights and sirens. And there were many times when Square rebbe would fly somewhere, literally where highways would be blocked off in order for him to be able, like you see these people like as above the law.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KAL: Like they are not, like--

 

PAUL: He was your--

 

KAL: --they don't sit in traffic. They fly like, the particular rules that other people have to obey by doesn't exist. Like he meets with presidents. He meets with governors. Like it's not, so his right-hand person is somebody who is really, really powerful. Growing up in that community, those are people that you look up to.

 

PAUL: He's your community's Jerry Sandusky.

 

KAL: I don't even know who that is, but--

 

PAUL: He was a pedophile who--

 

KAL: Oh, God.

 

PAUL: --was on the football coaching team of Penn State--

 

KAL: Oh, I was just going to say that, yeah.

 

PAUL: --and he used his access to do that, and a lot of people looked the other way because they didn't want to draw attention to it because it might put the program at risk.

 

KAL: So that was exactly that. I mean, I remember as a kid walking into his office, and he would open the safe and I remember seeing stacks of cash. I mean, think about it. The Square rebbe sits in his office, sits in his, in this holy, beautiful, regal room, when he sees people from all over the world that come to get his blessing. A part of doing that is they give him what they call a kritl[sp?], or they'll give him a little paper with the names of your kids, and it's always attached to a $100 bill or a $50 bill or $1,000 or like, every single human being that goes in to see the Square rebbe goes in to see them with a note and cash.

So that's just how they do it. That's just the way of giving back. It's a way of supporting the leadership. It's a part of you give something of you and now, then he blesses you with like, it's kind of like when you look at the rebbe, there's rebbe and then there's like a clear path to the creator of the universe and all the requests and desires and aspirations and people being sick or life decisions, you go, he looks at this piece of sheet and he kind of like goes into this trance, and then he starts praying with you and he gives you directions and gives different blessings, and it's always with cash. So--

 

PAUL: And can you hear the cash register over the blessings?

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: No, you just see a stack of little papers with cash on his table and then it would be taken away.

 

PAUL: Now, why would people from outside the community be coming in there? Are there--

 

KAL: So there's outside, so the Square Hasidim, as in, people that belong to that sect that live in Borough Park, that live in Flatbush, that live in Williamsburg, that live in Israel, in London, in Antwerp, like all over the world there are Hasidic families that, for lack of a better word, that--

 

PAUL: This is the Vatican for their sect--

 

KAL: Exactly, exactly. Basically they are, what's the word I'm looking for? Their allegiance to, or what's the word I'm looking for . . .

 

PAUL: What's the, generally the, roughly the world population that adheres to that sect?

 

KAL: I don't, I don't really know. I can't really answer that question.

So I would come into his right-hand person's office, and there's literally just stacks of cash. I mean, they will go to their respective places. But I was one of those kids that would walk out of the office with hundreds of dollars in my pocket.

 

PAUL: Because you stole them or he gave them to you?

 

KAL: Because he gave them to me--

 

PAUL: To keep quiet?

 

KAL: He would touch me inappropriately many times. There was this ongoing insane relationship of me asking him for money, and him having access to me. Now, I saw lots of kids my age and a bit older that were always going in and out of his office, and you could never tell why, although there's cameras everywhere and everything is being recorded, but there could be a million different reasons why I would be there.

My grandmother might have sent me to go pick something up, or my mother who's involved in helping the community in another particular way he's asking a question or, I mean, there's, everything is so intertwined. So, me not feeling always very comfortable at home, me feeling always pressured in the community for many reasons, me being out late before different holidays or before, like when the Square rebbe, one of his kids or grandkids will get married, it's like the Super Bowl. I mean, there's lights and they're building bleachers and signs, and it's, like there's always something going on in that community that was this big-deal celebration.

But he had, now years later I know, he had years and years and years of history of abusing kids. Now, when I got sober at 18 and I started going through my own process of recovery and confronting a lot of, all of the crap that I went through as a kid and having left that community and, I mean, leading up, before 18, it was just rage and anger and, I mean, it was a community that just got away with anything.

 

PAUL: I can't imagine how much rage and oppression and confusion you must have felt. How did he pre-, I’m always interested to know the manner in which perpetrators present it, spin it, whatever.

 

KAL: It's such a, it's such a bizarre topic because there are so many factors at play. So even being my age, being who he was, he had no right to ever take me outside of the community. You know, like he knows the rules.

Like, yes, maybe I was helping build something or maybe I was helping with organizing something, which I was many times all through like nine, 10, 11, 12, but, so I remember when I was fairly young, and I don't remember the exact age, we would drive outside of the community. He would take me into this building called the Refuah Health Center, which is kind of like, it's not a hospital but it's a medical center, which serves for a lot of people outside of the community but also most of our community uses that.

And I remember distinctly one particular time where it wasn't even, we never, maybe we did. I haven't thought of like the actual sensation in the communications of, what words were exchanged that had the understanding that I was going to get in the car, supposedly by my choice, and then drive outside of the community.

And it was, obviously it was so significant. Like I'm sitting in this like, this car that has all the lights and sirens and all the gadgets, and it's this really important--

 

PAUL: Which I am sure in his mind was leverage for--

 

KAL: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, oh, yeah. But it wasn't like, oh, we were going to go to the 7-Eleven. There is no 7-Eleven around there, and 3:00 in the morning, you shouldn't be driving out with a kid outside of the community.

 

PAUL: And did anybody know that you were with him?

 

KAL: No, no.

 

PAUL: And how many times had you been outside the community? How many times would an average kid who was born there and is 11 have seen outside the walls?

 

KAL: It's hard to tell. Most kids that age have never left that community, unless, if you were a family like us, like we would go away for the summers. We would have, we would go to Muncie. Like me and my family, we have been outside of the community. Not, as a kid, I wouldn't go by myself, but I have been out of the community with my family. But there's a lot of kids at that age that have never left. They don't even go away for camp. Like, that's the community and the world they live in.

But I, the moment, the most significant moment of this particular story is walking into that building and remembering, like he would, he undid the alarm of the building, and this building is like, what, I don't know, a five-story building or four-story building, massive, in my head, being this little kid, and then the door locking behind me and that chill, like the entire hallway walking into the building is dark.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KAL: And it's probably around 3:00 in the morning, and the door is closing, the metal door is closing behind me, and him turning the alarm on again, which means we would have to go up to the next floor before the alarm would turn off. And that just, the paradox of sheer terror of, I can be killed, I can be chopped dup, I can be raped, I can be beaten, there's nowhere to go, that door is locked. It's the middle of the night, and I'm supposed, like he's not pulling me in there, but there's, I've gotten to know a very interesting victimization trance, and I'll tell you another story in a minute--

 

PAUL: What a perfect word to describe it.

 

KAL: --that it's not violent. It's not coercion. But it's almost magnifying beyond choice.

 

PAUL: There's like a freeze that takes place in the victim that--

 

KAL: Another option isn't an option. Like, I could have ran away. No one, there was no barriers, there was no, and that, I've studied that. You know, even, and then going upstairs and then bending over one of the doctor's tables and then him taking off his belt and me negotiating with him, if he was going to beat me with his hands, with his belt or with a stick and that will determine how much money he would give me.

Like, even that--

 

PAUL: So this, so the, in addition to him raping you, he was also beating you.

 

KAL: So, rape didn’t happen in that particular story. It would be more fondling and touching and, it was never violent rape. But how, a part of his perversion, how he would engage touching me--

 

PAUL: Please apologize to him, by the way, for me assuming that he rapes.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: Although I wouldn't be very, I wouldn't, yeah--

 

PAUL: If I didn't know you, Kal, I wouldn't have made that joke.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: It's all good, absolutely. But what I want to say is that the moment of when that door closed behind me is more embedded in my brain and my brain cell, in my nervous system, than the interaction that happened afterwards.

 

PAUL: You know, that makes perfect sense to me because when the kid is experiencing the sexual abuse, they are generally leaving their body. They are dissociating. They're going to a place that isn't there partially, you know what I mean.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Whereas leading up to it, I would imagine you're a little bit more in your body, and that's like one of the most chilling metaphors I've ever heard for experiencing sexual abuse--

 

KAL: Yeah, I want to jump ahead because if anyone listened to this, there'll be like the sequence of being able to identify this particular phenomenon.

I remember around that time in my life, again, most people that are in arranged marriages, their siblings are getting married. Most kids in that community, people are marrying people in that community.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: Only when a kid is a bit troubled or if a kid is a bit more modern, a bit more rebellious, they will still marry into a Hasidic family but from a family outside of the community. So whenever you do that, just like a note to self, whenever someone is marrying outside of the community, it's less of an ideal marriage.

So my oldest brother had his own issues and his own problems, I won't go into detail, but he was marrying somebody from outside of the community, so our entire family was in Borough Park for the weekend, the weekend after he got married.

So I'll give you another visual. There's this huge building, obviously I went back years later and it's not that, it's not as big, but as a kid, it's around, sometimes in the afternoon, really hot outside in the summer, Brooklyn, New York, and we had spent the whole afternoon at the family's home and, which was really lovely. We came for, you know, Jews, they do that three different prayers in a day, and so it was close to Minchah, and we are in this synagogue and if the door was over there, I was standing next to two adults and they were talking to each other and all of a sudden--

 

PAUL: Kal was pointing to his right--

 

KAL: Like the far right, and I'm literally looking northwest, and if you're looking, southeast is where the door was.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: And, you know, we had just arrived there, nothing in particular was going on in the building, and all of a sudden my entire body flipped around, like literally someone was pulling my hair chest to four doors right next to each other, and towards the end the door was open probably a foot and a half, and a guy standing there with a lollipop and showing me to come.

 

PAUL: What [incredulously]?

 

KAL: There's no better way of descriptions. It's exactly how it happened. I'm doing my thing, standing there next to a few adults, and all of a sudden my whole body turns and I see this guy with a lollipop and all of a sudden I felt, I literally felt like he was pulling me through thin air to follow him.

I go through that door. I walk down three staircases. And he pushes me into the corner and starts pulling down my pants and, all of a sudden, I came to, pushed him away, ran upstairs, I'm out of breath and I'm almost like skipping over the stairs, run back to where I was standing before, and the few adults, they look down at me and they go, it was almost like they had, I had no idea how long that took. It could have been a second. It could have been two minutes. It could have been a half an hour. Time didn't exist.

And one of the reasons why I, when I tell that story, it's kind of like I had this invisible sign on my forehead that said fuck me, and that's the relationship between pedophiles and victims that I was always fascinated by. There is something in the victimization that victims take comfort in, and almost in the re-victimization of abuse.

Now, I don't understand and I have not studied that extensively. I did run a non-profit for the prevention of childhood sexual abuse. I did meet with a lot of offenders and victims.

 

PAUL: By that do you mean the act of it or falling under the spell of--

 

KAL: Falling under the spell.

 

PAUL: Okay, good, because I want to clearly delineate between that. And I believe it's something that abusers, all abusers, be it physical abusers--

 

KAL: It's like, how do you find out of 10 people who you're going to be able to dominate that way.

 

PAUL: I think people see it in the eyes. I think they see a hesitation in the eyes and a desire to please. Almost every person that I, well, or I should say many, many people that I have met who have been victimized, there is a desire to please that they see, I don't know, I suppose an innocence. And is it conscious in the person that does it?

 

KAL: I don't think so.

 

PAUL: Do they think this person's not going to talk, I can manipulate this person? Or--

 

KAL: I think that's a byproduct, but I think before any verbal communication, body language might be a part of it, but there is, I think there's an energetic, invisible dynamic that plays out.

 

PAUL: I think you're right, because often you'll hear people, you know, a woman will share about being at a party and then all of a sudden from across the room the guy who is will then abuse her for the next five years, their eyes meet and they don't see anybody else.

 

KAL: So, I mean, on a more--

 

PAUL: I just want to make sure that people who have been victims don't think that we are victim-blaming. That's what I want to be clear about--

 

KAL: No. I don't think it's consciously called, you don't ask for it. I mean, no.

 

PAUL: But even if you did, that's your experience--

 

KAL: No amount of abuse, yeah, no amount of abuse can ever be justified. And the fact, if abuse happened again, it is the responsibility of the abuser for doing what he did.

 

PAUL: Even if the child asks for it--

 

KAL: But it goes even further for victims, I believe. There is an identity that gets built around victimization, and that's certainly as you grow up. You know, when I started going through my own recovery and I started looking at my own actions, there is--

 

PAUL: And self-beliefs.

 

KAL: Right. Belief systems, like what was making up this dysfunctional life of mine, and we can talk about in a moment how that came about, but there is, there's a benefit that I, there's a benefit and a comfort for being locked in, in a victim identity, as in, one, I know how it feels, two, I know how to maneuver around it. Like we, as human beings, I believe that we build entire self-image based on victimization.

 

PAUL: Because at the time we believe it to be true, we believe that to be our worth, and so then we can navigate it because there's no unknown.

 

KAL: Right, right. I mean, in mental health, you see that a lot. I mean, why do people that are being physically abused stay with their abuser? I mean, it's rather to stay, rather than going through so much discomfort and even terror that is predicted than the unknown that is not predicted.

 

PAUL: And the same reason why the alcoholic or drug addict will continue to risk their life and everything they hold dear to get loaded because the idea of trying a life without it is more terrifying.

 

KAL: Right.

 

PAUL: I might die or I might have to start going to support groups, you know, I'm going to have to get back to you.

 

KAL: Right [chuckles]. I got to consider my options.

 

PAUL: Yes. So, go ahead.

 

KAL: Yeah. So that was, you know, I left the community when I was around 11 years old, and again, that's usually where I pause.

 

PAUL: Hold that thought for one second. We'll come back to it. The thing with the lollipop--

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --and by the way, congrats, first stereotypical lollipop moment, six years of doing the podcast. I'm going to see if I can make you a trophy.

 

KAL: [Chuckles]

 

PAUL: I think we had a van in the second year of the podcast, somebody whose perpetrator drove a van. But the lollipop incident, was that with a different person and was that before or after the encounters with the second-in-command guy.

 

KAL: I don't actually remember.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: It was definitely not the same person, but I can't remember which one was first. The guy at second in command, with him it happened quite a few times, but I don't remember which one happened first.

 

PAUL: What do you remember thinking or feeling from the moment you would feel that you had no choice in going someplace with this person, through the event to sometime maybe the next day or that night or after you got dropped off or whatever?

 

KAL: So here, here's an interesting spin on talking about sexual abuse. I didn't even talk about those experiences as sexual abuse until around 18.

 

PAUL: Most people don't. Most people--

 

KAL: Most people don't because maybe you don't want to put a name on abuse.

 

PAUL: Or you don't think it was abuse.

 

KAL: Right.

 

PAUL: You think that you had a choice because you didn't fight or a part of it felt good or you felt sorry for that person or whatever.

 

KAL: But most of those experiences with him almost felt like I had more control, so there's a very, there's a few very distinct . . . I mean, like if I was an adult and I’m looking at a little kid and the kid is really confused and the kid is like, feels taken advantage of, like obviously I'll look at him and be like, you're a kid. Like, regardless of what was going through your brain or your mind, it's not relevant. He's an adult. You're a kid. You should know love, security, predictability, healthy environments. Any adult that breaks that should be thrown off a building, for lack of a better word.

Like, if I'm looking at it as black and white, I go, no, you as a kid, you are, you come into the world, what you should know is safety. What you should know is security. So when you go into the big, crazy adult world, you can start adapting to the lack of security and predictability in a healthy way.

 

PAUL: Yeah.

 

KAL: But first you should have security.

 

PAUL: So you know what it feels like.

 

KAL: Right.

 

PAUL: So you'll know when you don't have it--

 

KAL: Right [chuckles].

 

PAUL: --that something needs to change.

 

KAL: So I get intellectually that there is, yes, I get that, and the peak turn-on and the peak vibrancy and the peak aliveness of my nervous system growing up was in those moments. And that's what I almost looked for for the rest of my life.

 

PAUL: The adrenaline.

 

KAL: The adrenaline, those peak experiences. So that moment where I could die or I can be really amused is [chuckles], is an edge that has stayed with me and I've kind of had to learn through meditation and through many other practices to get used to the not-so-peak experiences.

 

PAUL: What do you mean when you say, or I could be amused?

 

KAL: Or I can be amused. Or the worst won't happen. Either the worst will happen, or it will be entertaining or it would be, I mean--

 

PAUL: When you're being abused, it would be--

 

KAL: So, when I was laying in that, when I was laying in that bed in the doctor's office, bent over, being beaten in a way that almost was unbearable, there was something about that experience that had me feel amusement.

 

PAUL: Really.

 

KAL: Yeah. There was something about that experience that had me be, had me feel more alive than my boring, day-to-day life.

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KAL: So, the reason why I didn't call that abuse is because it didn't feel, well, violating a little bit, but it didn't feel--

 

PAUL: Like it was 100--

 

KAL: --like I was being taken advantage of. It felt like I was relevant and significant to someone, important, while feeling really, really high sensation. Now, feeling high sensation is fairly neutral. The younger the child and the higher the sensation could be traumatizing for the nervous system, not even as an intellectual thing, but just for the nervous system being like, no, now it should know safety, it should know fight or flight shouldn't be happening right now [chuckles].

 

PAUL: Right. And if you can't flee, that's usually when--

 

KAL: Right.

 

PAUL: --dissociation does what it's supposed to do, which is your brain flees.

 

KAL: Right. So this is where my experience has very frequently differed, and when I go back into my experiences and I talk to other victims, you know, most victims, or a lot, a lot of victims, definition of their victim means that they have been violated. There's something that happened to them that they, in their right mind, would not want to have happen to them. They were touched in a particular way, hurt in a particular way. It confuses them, and the scars stay inside them. And I always felt that the trauma, for lack of a better word, that I went through was educational in one way, introduced me to different domains of my own personal life and my own personal experience that I would not have gotten if I was just a normal child, treated normally.

So I only started using abuse when I started encountering other victims from this community and from victims that I know who were victimized by him, that his interactions with them were a lot more crazy and more abusive. And so I, so yeah, it's an interesting topic.

 

PAUL: What do you mean, it introduced you to areas of your life that, help me understand the parts of it that you--

 

KAL: What I mean by those other aspects of my life?

 

PAUL: Yeah, the positives. Help me understand, or at least for a portion of time in your life that you saw as positive. I assume you, do you still feel that there were positive things that came out of it for you personally?

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Okay. Help me understand those, because I think right now the listener is going--

 

KAL: Is going, what about that could be positive--

 

PAUL: Exactly.

 

KAL: Okay. The way I used to describe it to people is like, as a kid you grow up and there's like a little faucet that eventually, this thing called sexuality, and at different stages in one's life, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, that faucet kind of gets opened naturally in a particular rate.

Now, what happened to me is that someone opened that faucet really fast at a younger age.

 

PAUL: Because it was just by its nature such sensory overload--

 

KAL: Right, right.

 

PAUL: --emotionally and physically.

 

KAL: But that sensation was, it is and was within my capacity of feeling as a human. So, and here's a completely different topic, and then I'll come back to this for a second, when I went through a ton of different conferences on sexual abuse and pedophilia and trying to understand that whole dynamic, I remember learning the implications of abuse is a lot harsher, past abuse, than the actual abuse--

 

PAUL: Oh, I definitely, definitely believe that--

 

KAL: --meaning the shame, the integration, all that, that the experience in and of itself that we call the abuse, or that was actually abuse, is more neutral.

 

PAUL: And it's a drop in the bucket generally in terms of the ripples. The ripples are the part that--

 

KAL: Exactly.

 

PAUL: --hurt your life.

 

KAL: You can't, you're not sharing it with anybody. You're afraid. You're ashamed. Or it felt really good and you don't really know where to place it.

 

PAUL: You don't trust people.

 

KAL: Right. So not all abuse is, you took something really hard, something really big into a small hole and you, and there's blood and there's viol-, not, yes, that happens and it's so insanely unfortunate, but a lot of the times it happens, you are coddled. You are pursued. You are--

 

PAUL: Made to feel powerful.

 

KAL: --manipulated. You are made to feel special, powerful and so on. And so, for me, yes, I was made to feel special, yes, I was rewarded, yes, I was given props to even come back for it again, but I was introduced to, I think, the world of BDSM at a very young age. I felt more powerful being submissive. The high-sensation points of abuse was kind of pleasurable.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: I would venture to say, as an adult who is being beaten with a stick or with a cane or with a whip and can hardly sit had the same sensations and the same experiences that I did when I was eight, nine years old. Well, granted, well, if it was my child, I would want to rip that person apart, but given that it was me, and now looking to my experience from my adulthood, I don't see it as abuse.

So I've always seen myself as privileged in the sense that this thing that we call resilience, that most psychologists and psychiatrists could never give me a correct answer on what that actually is, but I would assume that it's very similar of a word than like what is a spiritual experience. Well, we can give you some parameters and it translates to different people differently, but I feel once I started dealing with my own, with forgiveness around the anger, and the anger was not so much that experience. The anger was so much, was more about being abandoned, not being understood, and naturally so.

 

PAUL: By your parents.

 

KAL: By my parents, by the community, as in, I wasn't looked after. I wasn't, when I started questioning the leadership in the community, when I started telling other people about what had happened, when I started talking to other kids who I saw leave his office, I was the one who was being punished or like they just wanted to do away with me.

So the way they dealt with me was to take me out of the community and place me with a family in Brooklyn.

 

PAUL: Instead of confronting that guy.

 

KAL: Exactly.

 

PAUL: When the child goes to a parent or a trusted adult and tells them what happened and nothing is done, or the child is shamed or some other negative thing, people say that that was often more traumatic than the events themselves.

And two things that strike me. Number one is, you know, if you've ever heard a dominatrix interviewed, one of the things they'll say is most of their submissive clients are people who are powerful in their everyday life.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And the second thing, when you were talking about the nervous system kind of expanding, that faucet widening, is it reminds me of almost exactly what war veterans describe, that when they come home it, they miss that rush, even though they don't want to see their buddy get killed, the intense, they miss the intensity of it because they've never felt more alive.

 

KAL: Yeah, let's get back to that, because I derailed with that.

 

PAUL: One of my guests, Jesse Perez, in his episode, he was a gang member, and he said the greatest high I've ever had was being shot at.

 

KAL: Yeah. You can't, there's no option to get distracted. There's no option to, like I'm the guy, I remember being part of this organization in San Francisco a couple years ago, and one day we found out that somebody had just shot herself, and the entire room was freaking out and I just get crystal clear, focused, you do this, you do that, sit down, take some water, shut up, call this person, and I saw the same thing when bombs were exploding in Israel. Like, there was a suicide bomb once, I was downtown. Everyone is running away, including my ex-wife, and I am running toward it. Like there is--

 

PAUL: Things slow down for you.

 

KAL: It goes back to that experience, but coming back to that analogy of, so I feel like maybe I was traumatized, maybe I was privileged, regardless of the label of was it right or was it wrong. I was just introduced to higher levels of sensation. Now when--

 

PAUL: Are you saying that you can't clearly label it wrong, or you're saying whether or not I've benefited from that door being opened in my--

 

KAL: I absolutely can label it wrong from the perpetrator.

 

PAUL: Right.

 

KAL: Meaning, he was an adult, I was a kid. That is black and white. Interpreting my experience, I don't feel victimized. I feel--

 

PAUL: Do you realize how crazy that sounds, though?

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: Because I--

 

KAL: Oh, yeah, because I've sat around victims, I've cried with hundreds of victims and I've listened to insane stories all through my life.

 

PAUL: And I'm not, clearly not calling you crazy.

 

KAL: Yes [chuckles].

 

PAUL: I just, my purpose with this podcast is to help people with different experiences understand ourselves and other people, and so I want what you're sharing, since it, not a lot of people speak about it as candidly as you do or have the experience that you do, I want to make sure that we're not being fuzzy in some of the things that we describe.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Are you saying that the overall net was a positive for you or that just by having some things come out of it that you use in your daily life it doesn't feel like the typical victim scenario?

 

KAL: I mean, it's a really good question because I haven't thought of it for a very long time, and now when I'm thinking back before age 18, so when it all fell apart [chuckles], when this rageful, angry, full-of-resentment drug addict of a kid was coming, crashing down, I remember sitting with this rabbi once in Brooklyn he's telling me, I'm telling him some of my stories, he's telling me some of his stories, and he was also a survivor.

And I remember having this cathartic moment of, how are you so affectionate or how are you so caring? I remember looking at him and being like, you are representing of that community but, in the same time, you're representing care and compassion to what I went through. And I remember my brain kind of short circuiting.

So for me to say that I've always believed that my experience growing up was a positive would be a lie, because all through my teens I was, I used to envision taking a gun and shooting that guy. I used to, I was rageful against that culture, so I can't say I was like, it helped me come to be this healthy, good human being [chuckles]. But it's very interesting even now, sitting right here, like thinking about how disturbing that experience was up to 18 and now there's not a conscious cell in my body that sees that experience as negative.

 

PAUL: No part of it is negative?

 

KAL: No.

 

PAUL: Other than the fact that this guy is still--

 

KAL: Other than the fact that he's still not in prison and his son is married to my younger sister.

 

PAUL: Oh, my God--

 

KAL: And [chuckles]--

 

PAUL: --oh, my God.

 

KAL: So, it gets better.

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: So, I am walking in San Francisco, more in Berkeley, in the Bay Area, one Friday afternoon and my mother calls me. She goes, call me, I need you to sit down. And I'm like, at this point, we're in communication frequently. And I go, okay, this is bad, probably somebody had died.

She goes, sit down, I need to ask you something. I go, okay, I walk into a Starbucks, I sit down, and I go, okay, what's going on. She goes, well, you know how your sister is now 17, 18? I go, yes. Well, it's around that time and she's supposed to get married. I go, yes. And a few different matchmakers, shadchanim, have recommended the same boy, so in my head I'm like, obviously this guy, this boy must be a really good candidate that different individuals in the community kind of felt it. And I go, well, that's great new. Why do you need, why did you need me to sit down? You could have just told me that.

She goes, well, I want to tell you one thing that, if you are not okay with it, I will never ask you again, I will never question you, we will never go through with it and you will never hear of this again.

 

PAUL: What's Yiddish for the kicker?

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: And I go, okay. And she goes, well, he is the son of, and then names his name. And the first thing that popped into my head, before I can have any logical other thought, was don't punish the son for the sins of his father.

 

PAUL: Oh, I thought it was going to be, I'll kill him at the wedding [chuckles].

 

KAL: I know. I know. It wasn't anything close to that, because I had already shaken his hand. I'd already done my forgiving of my past, forgiving of him. I'd already gone back to the community. I've confronted some individuals in the community. So, this is at a point where I felt I had made peace with my past.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: And I had gone through lots of therapeutic processes, and at this point I wasn't living my life based on what had happened to me. And my mother is like, no, no, no, no, I don't want you to decide right now. I want you to take the weekend and we'll talk after the weekend, and I'm like, great, I'm happy to take the weekend, but I don't have, if he has not been abused and if he is healthy and if he's meant to be with my sister, you know, his father will have what, yes, I said, and we'll deal with his father separately.

That had me actually, it created this entire chain of events that was incredible for many people, including myself. I went back to New York, and the way my girlfriend would tell the story, the woman that I was dating at the time, that I went to my sister's wedding in New York, and six months later, she boxed up all my stuff from the closet and sent it to New York. I literally had just gone for a weekend and stayed in New York, confronted him again, the father. I went to the wedding, confronted him, and all of a sudden out of nowhere, unexpectedly, all these victims came out of everywhere, every hole in the wall.

 

PAUL: To you or just publicly--

 

KAL: To me, came out to me, being like, one, a consideration I never thought of, as in, you're the only one who can actually confront him, because you're not in the community, you don't care about what he's going to do to you or he can't have any effect on you. Why do you think he wants to marry into your family?

And I don't think that was ever a consideration on his end, although I don't know. It--

 

PAUL: Oh, because he--

 

KAL: --now looking back could make sense--

 

PAUL: --because he arranged the marriage, not, the son didn't choose. The marriage was arranged--

 

KAL: I mean, it's always between families.

 

PAUL: That's like, actually like 16th-century--

 

KAL: A whole plot twist that--

 

PAUL: --it's like Shakespeare. You know, you would marry somebody, you know, the daughter of the king you didn't want to go to war with--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: Yes, yes. So I don't, I will never know unless if I can see his mind. I don't know if that was ever a consideration. But that switched something in me, being, huh. And then they started going, they wanted me to confront him for them.

 

PAUL: The survivors.

 

KAL: Those other victims.

 

PAUL: And did your brother-in-law know that his father had done these things to you, and did your sister know these things?

 

KAL: I never--

 

PAUL: Because your mom knew.

 

KAL: Yeah, my mom knew. I don't know, I know that my sister and his son found out after I had, there was a documentary and a video that went viral, me talking about my experience and naming him.

 

PAUL: And why not name him here?

 

KAL: I don't know. I haven't even--

 

PAUL: I'm not pressing you to do it. I just want you to know, if you--

 

KAL: I found myself not saying it, although I don't have any problem with it being said.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: So, I come back for the wedding. His name is Heshy Brier. I am participating in the wedding--

 

PAUL: The brother-in-law or the--

 

KAL: His father, so the guy who sexually abused me abused, I want to say hundreds of other people, but I don't know the exact number.

So, I confront him. I sit down with him, and I go, here is this name, this name, this name. They, I believe they should have some closure to what had happened to them and basically the ultimatum we're giving you is, you either come out publicly and admit what you did so they can have some peace of mind and not feel like they're completely crazy, or we're going to pursue legal actions, as in you do whatever you're going to do but we're going to take it to the DA's office, we're going to take it to actually reporting it as a crime or report the abuse.

And his entire concern in that conversation was, what could he do to silence them?

 

PAUL: Of course. Of course. Of course.

 

KAL: I was, I mean, the amount of disappointment on my end, why I didn't record it has never, I mean, I have met with the FBI, I have met with the DAs' offices. I've met with detectives. I wish I had that conversation on tape, because afterwards when I started going after it, I was not able to. But, you know, there was never the denial of what he's done.

So, let's back up a little bit--

 

PAUL: So he didn't deny it to you, but he just wouldn't say it publicly and he wouldn't apologize to the other victims.

 

KAL: Right, right. There was no press release. There was no, I mean, so here's the thing.

So when I got, when I was 18 and I went into rehab, Upstate New York, a second cousin of mine who found out that I was going to treatment came in, and the first time I talked about my abuse was when I was in rehab.

Now, he is upset, pissed off, rageful for what had happened. He is committed to go to confront the Square rebbe about his right-hand person. And he's basically threatening, and there was a huge ordeal. I never got the exact details, but there was screaming, he was kicked out of the room, literally confronting the Square rebbe. Nothing happened publicly, but he, Heshy Brier, was sent to treatment for his behavior, for his pedophilia--

 

PAUL: You just used air quotes.

 

KAL: --yeah, for his proclivities. So the entire community, so granted, I left when I was 11-ish. All through my teens, I go through what I go through, drug abuse, trying to deal with life, homicidal thoughts, suicidal thoughts, all that. I get sober. I confront my feelings for the first time, lots of crying, lots of waking up, lots of incredible experiences that I could write a book about, but I now found out, find out that he, the entire community knew that something was up with him, because he was given an ultimatum to go for treatment, so he's losing his entire hair.

So years later I find out that the authorities, the whatever committees that can influence him, that are responsible for the PR in the community and the safety of the community and the finances of the community knew that he had a problem and he was sent to treatment for his pedophilia. So now, I’m assuming he has no sex drive. I’m assuming he's recalibrating to life in, I don't know the exact term, but there is a treatment for pedophiles where--

 

PAUL: He lost his hair--

 

KAL: He's going to treatment for his pedophilia and the result of the treatment that he was going through, he lost his hair.

 

PAUL: Because of a chemical or--

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: --the stress of treatment--

 

KAL: No, because of the chemical. Like one of the byproducts of taking that injection--

 

PAUL: Oh. So, was he chemically castrated?

 

KAL: Yes.

 

PAUL: Oh, okay.

 

KAL: Yeah. I always forget that term, but yeah, he was chemically castrated. He was losing his hair. He was going through all the shame. But then recalibrated into the community and never lost his position, never lost his role, never lost.

So here I am, I come back to the community after being away for many years. I go to the wedding. I sit down with him and go, I'm sorry, this is not going to work for me or for them anymore. Whatever you did that you think that you've done right with the world and the people that you've abused, I'm now hearing from other kids in the community that you're still inappropriate, and I'm literally looking at pictures, that you're still inappropriate with kids. Kids are, young teenagers are still receiving money from you, and we know you're not just giving out money.

So, I basically give him this ultimatum. I then start the process of creating my non-profit from that whole interaction. So we started looking for other kids or young adults who were still within the statute of limitations to testify against him. We couldn't find that. We couldn't find anyone who would be willing to.

One night he disappears, escapes the very community that he's running, responsible for, invested millions of dollars in real estate in, and literally escaped without his in-laws even knowing where he was going. So, I don't know the exact time and I don't know the exact date, but his wife being informed, his family, immediate family, finding out of who he has been and the ramifications of what he's been all started crumbling at the same time, and he literally bolted before any actual arrest or any indictment was going to happen and escapes to Israel.

 

PAUL: And that's where he is now.

 

KAL: And now that's where he is.

 

PAUL: And they won't extradite him.

 

KAL: They won't extradite him because they don't have a case, because they don't have any victims that are within still the statute of limitations that would be willing to testify.

 

PAUL: A podcast doesn't count?

 

KAL: Nope. I have been on national television--

 

PAUL: It's a good one, though. It's a good one--

 

[Simultaneous discussion]

 

PAUL: --yeah, but this is, this is a podcast--

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: Although here in L.A., the statute of limitations has been changed.

 

PAUL: Thank God.

 

KAL: Thank God.

 

PAUL: And a lot of places, one of our former guests did a like 15,000-mile walk through Europe to bring awareness to the outdated laws protecting children, and he had laws changed in many, many--

 

KAL: Wow.

 

PAUL: --countries. Yeah--

 

KAL: God bless his soul.

 

PAUL: --Matty McVarish, a great, great episode.

 

KAL: That's amazing.

 

PAUL: So is that one of the things that you mean that came out of this, was that you--

 

KAL: Right.

 

PAUL: --found this purpose in your life--

 

KAL: Founded the non-profit that then gave voice to many people to go get treatment. And my own experience, like I spent many years at an organization in San Francisco that was focusing on orgasm, so there was, there's a lot about my personal life and my adult identity of a person and my own personal relationships that have blossomed and have given me a lot of power and satisfaction that kind of came out of what I went through.

 

PAUL: What do you mean when you say the orgasm organization?

 

KAL: So, there's an organization in San Francisco--

 

PAUL: And by the way, I never want to use their keyboard.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: So go ahead.

 

KAL: Well, there's an organization in San Francisco that I was a part of that teaches and practices orgasmic meditation.

 

PAUL: Okay.

 

KAL: Just like--

 

PAUL: Is it similar to tantra or no?

 

KAL: It has a lot of similar concepts to tantra, but it's a very, a very particular practice of a strokee and a stroker, and basically the practice of bringing more awareness into pleasure in the body.

 

PAUL: I see.

 

KAL: So again, back to the spectrum of sensation, how much people allow themselves to feel, now this is a very deliberate practice that has X amount of time, X technique in a very safe container, which I think every adult should be introduced to that practice before they get entangled in the misconceptions and the insanity around desire and sexuality and so on.

But I, again, I grew up in a world where social structure, political structure, economic structure, the norm I kind of left as a kid, so my entire life as an adult has been the exploration and the search of alternative lifestyles, alternative sexualities or alternative viewpoints to purpose and so on. So one of those things that was a part of my journey was that.

 

PAUL: So many things you took from this and I, you know, I just had this imagine in my mind of you made it out of the burning building with some lamps and some chairs, you know what I mean?

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: And some people die in that burning building. Some people leave with nothing and they lost everything in there. And I would count myself as one of the people, while I am not glad that what happened to me as a kid happened to me as a kid. I'm glad that I've been able to salvage some positives from it, to begin questioning the world.

 

KAL: Right. That was like one of the things that caused you to question things that you--

 

PAUL: Yeah, because I put all the shame on myself, and so then I am just always trying to read people. I'm sure you're great at reading a room and--

 

KAL: Oh, yeah.

 

PAUL: --picking up on vibes from people and, you know, on and on and on and on, and doing this podcast brings meaning and purpose into my life and I wouldn't--

 

KAL: I mean, I think I see so many people that have accomplished so many great things. Most of them were damaged goods [chuckles] at some point. Most of them were so beaten into something that the way that they dealt with horrific experiences was greatness or getting really good at something or building something in a response to what they went through.

 

PAUL: I agree.

 

KAL: So if you go back, it's like, would I have wanted to be a normal kid? Hell, no. A normal kid would have had me stay in that community.

 

PAUL: Yeah, wow. There is so many things to ponder about your story and the places that it led. But I'm so glad you came and shared it because the average person who isn't a survivor has no idea the scope of experience and ripples.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: And I'm glad you brought up intensity, sexual intensity, because it is a topic that isn't really discussed too much, or the sensory overload, be it sexual or PTSD or anything else, but--

 

KAL: Yeah. I want to point out something very interesting that had happened to me. So this guy, Mikey, this big, muscular black guy, I'm locked up in rehab, around 18 years old. One day I'm walking around with that look in my face of contemplating suicide.

Now I wasn't looking at myself. I wasn't in front of a mirror. I'm assuming it looks a particular way.

 

PAUL: Do you call it your resting death face?

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: I just probably look devoid of any excitement. And he comes up to me, and I will never forget where he walked up to me and started a conversation, and he goes, Kal, perhaps there's no point to live. Perhaps there's no reason, there's no goodness in your life that you can come up with to say, hey, there's good purpose to live, or like there's nothing, you don't see a point to this life that you're currently living, but imagine in 20 years from now, there will be another person who will have the same exact experience as you and you will be the only person to save that person's life. Wouldn't you want to be alive to see that?

And that was the first time in my adult life that I stopped, like living was not so much anymore about me, that perhaps my experience would be able to have some impact on somebody. It shifted something so monumental that its effects I only felt for the next 15 years--

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KAL: --of, and I remember the commitment in my head at that time was, that I will always share my experience, regardless of how inappropriate it is, regardless of how stifling it is, because if there's one person in an entire room that will be able to relate to my experience and will give them hope or I will give them the feeling, oh, my God, I'm not the only one, that my life would be worth living.

And since that point, I remember I was living in Israel and one day I found myself in the same, in the exact situation, where I'm sitting at a pizza shop in downtown Jerusalem, and we kind of played a very deliberate game. It was like literally 15 people around the table and all talking, and I had a few rules that you can disagree with somebody and if somebody is sharing while they're standing and talking, you can't interrupt them, so people have to kind of finish what they were saying. Then if you want to pick up the conversation from there, please do so, but it was no, there was no, you can't respond to that person. You just share whatever came up for you or not.

And the conversation obviously was doing organically what it was doing, but I was taking it towards sexual abuse in the Jewish world and the Hasidic world. There's a lot of kids that came from that world, and when I came out, this woman came into my face and she goes, how dare you, how dare you talk about such sensitive topics in public? And I told her the same exact story that I just told you about Mikey.

 

PAUL: Mm-hmm.

 

KAL: And it was only a couple months later she walked up to me again and basically told me it was the first time she had heard somebody talk about sexual abuse the way I did. She went back to London, confronted the rabbis that had abused her. Like this entire chain of events that had happened, of her now going to school to become a therapist and she, years later she started a paper in London that--

 

PAUL: Wow.

 

KAL: --and a center. Like there was this entire, and that was just one of, I can sit here until I'm blue, of stories that came from that commitment, of like I will share my story. If you're uncomfortable, that's on you, but--

 

PAUL: What if you're in an elevator?

 

[Chuckling]

 

KAL: Well, elevators, you don't really have that much time to have an entire, but yes--

 

PAUL: Yeah, you've got to do the condensed pitch of your story. I cut you off, I'm sorry. I love to kill momentum with a half-baked joke.

 

[Chuckling]

 

PAUL: But what that, how that woman reacted to you, the fact that she was a survivor who hadn't dealt with it yet, every time I hear a parent shut down a child that comes to them, I always think the same thing, that person doesn't want to deal with their abuse--

 

KAL: With their own pain.

 

PAUL: --and that's why it's easier to call your child a liar, you know, or whatever, or they're afraid of being on their own or, you know, whatever.

 

KAL: Yeah.

 

PAUL: Thank you so much for coming in and sharing all this.

 

KAL: Absolutely.

 

PAUL: And I just--

 

KAL: It was my pleasure--

 

PAUL: --I just really appreciate it.

 

KAL: Absolutely.

 

PAUL: What a great guy. I'm so lucky to have people like him in my life. That's one of the things I love about recovery so much, is you get surrounded by people who are seeking a better internal life, and it's been my experience that the people that seek a better internal life, all the outside stuff just has a way of working out, as we do the internal work and learn to set boundaries and do all these other concepts that were so new to so many of us when we started doing them.

But that's it for the show this week. Again, I wish I had the energy to do some more surveys here but, you know, my head is made of marshmallow, maybe because I've been doing nothing but eating marshmallow. I'm not convinced that a ghost isn't controlling me and making me get up and, to my sunrise sugar workout [chuckles].

Anyway, I hope you heard something tonight that helped you, inspired you, comforted you, provoked you, did anything other than bored you. That would be the worst. Actually, you probably wouldn't still be listening at this point. You probably would have turned it off.

But now I'm just starting to run my mouth, and that's not good for either of us [chuckles], so never forget that you are not alone, and we are all connected, and I believe that one of the reasons that we are on this planet--

 

[Closing music swells]

 

--is to feel the peace and the joy of helping each other and being good to ourselves. And thanks for listening.

 

[Closing music]

 

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