ChaimLevin, who grew up in an Orthodox Jewish community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, says he was sexually abused by his cousin for years causing him to be abandoned by his family and shunned by his community. His childhood, ripped from him, led to years of depression and self-doubt, wrestling with his identity and sexuality, reports the Daily News.
“My message to my abuser is this: I will never stop until you take responsibility for what you did to me,” Levin told the Daily News. “I’m not going away. I’m getting stronger and stronger.”
Levin, now 27, has emerged as one of the leaders of the survivors fighting to reform New York’s statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse. The legislative session ends June 16. The current law bars victims from pursuing civil litigation or criminal charges after their 23 birthday. He says sexual abuse is common in the Orthodox community.
“Ken Thompson should be on the frontline supporting this bill, Levin said citing the Brooklyn district attorney, who was elected to his post partially because he promised to be tougher on sex abuse in the Orthodox community than Charles Hynes, his predecessor was. “He should be telling the Republicans in Albany, ‘We can’t do our job without this bill.’”
The Jewish Week community newspaper named Levin one of “36 under 36,” a group that supports those who choose to leave the Orthodox community. “Chaim is a man of great principle,” said Footsteps executive director Lani Santo. “He can’t let injustice sit there.”
“Every other person I know was abused as a kid,” Levin said. He has helped raise support in the Jewish community for the Child Victims Act, which would eliminate the statute of limitations and open a one-year window for past victims to file lawsuits against predators and institutions that protect them, the Daily News reports.