September 4, 2020
While the Eilat incident was extreme, much less offensive instances of sexual violence occur on a regular basis.
In light of the recent gang-rape of a 16-year-old in Eilat, The Jerusalem College of Technology (JCT) held a virtual conference last week on preventing sexual assault in communities and institutions.
While what happened in Eliat was an extreme example of sexual violence, smaller incidents happen on a regular basis.
Many educators and therapists, who work closely with the emotional, legal and halachic branches of sexual violence, participated in this conference, which presented, among other things, a unique virtual treatment model to correct and stop sexual assault.
Rabbi Yosef Ziv Rimon, the Head of JCT’s Beit Midrash, presented during the conference a model for treating sexual abuse in institutions and communities. He acknowledged that even if creating a model is a first step to address the plague that represents sexual assault, it is impossible to address all the cultural and situational complexities associated with acts of sexual violence.
Omri Heiman, a therapist associated with the JCT counseling department and a clinical social worker who specializes in treating sexual trauma emphasized that “for meaningful change to occur, we must examine how the system allows for this violence to take place and look at the circumstances of both the abuser and the victim.”
“In cases of sexual violence in a community, you must look at the system as a whole. This way, we can reach more people and enact change in a more comprehensive manner. By working together with the community, educational institutions, and local families, the subject knows that he/she has a circle of support around him/her. This is the only way to ensure long-term protection and treatment,” Heiman added.
“Treating adolescents with a history of abuse is necessary to prevent them from repeating such behaviors and invites them to engage in a dialogue that will help them understand the gravity of their actions,” said Limor Paikin, a clinical criminologist, psychotherapist, and expert in the treatment of trauma and sexual abuse, who presented a program to treat adolescents with abusive sexual behavior tendencies.
“It is our moral obligation to believe in the capacity for change,” said Rabbi Rimon, adding that, when it comes to the halachic laws, Torah sages taught us to build a morally correct society where the goal isn’t to punish offenders but to rehabilitate them in order to correct problematic behaviors.