Accompaniment to hospitals and through legal proceedings
Individual face-to-face meetings
LOCAL HOTLINE FOR WOMEN: +972-3-5176176
NATIONAL HOTLINE FOR MEN: +972-3-5179179
NATIONAL HOTLINE FOR RELIGIOUS MEN: +972-2-5328000
NATIONAL HOTLINE FOR WOMEN: 1202 • NATIONAL HOTLINE FOR MEN: 1203
The Crisis Center’s main service is its 24 hours a day, 7 days a week Hotline for Women. The Hotline for Men, which is the only such line for men in Israel, is also staffed 7 days a week. In 2003, the Center opened a designated Hotline for Religious Men and Youth operating 5 days a week from 7:00 PM to 11:00 PM.
All three hotlines provide immediate emotional, “lending an ear” assistance, tailored to the caller’s specific needs. We provide basic information and assistance to survivors of sexual assault as well as to their families or significant others, which can be of any type and of any degree of severity.
Law Enforcement Accompaniment
Over the years, many survivors reported that the process of filing a police report following their traumatic experience was an overwhelming and disheartening ordeal. In order to empower survivors during this vital step in finding justice and regaining a sense of security, the Center established our Accompaniment Services Department. Our services begin with a telephone conversation or a face-to-face meeting with the survivor during early stages of the crisis situation. A crucial part of our job is to provide information so that the survivor can make informed decisions. We explain the process of turning to the police, share in-depth information regarding filing a police report and discuss the survivor’s expectations. Our main function is to ensure that the survivor has the practical and emotional support necessary throughout the filing and pre-trail process, which in Israel is particularly emotionally daunting as survivors are required to face perpetrators as part of the process. We then assist the survivor by accompanying her as she navigates the pressures of filing a complaint at the police station and as she confronts her perpetrator during the police investigation process, which is standard practice among law enforcement in Israel. We also act as coordinators and a liaison with police officials in order to bring cases of sexual assault to a speedy trial. Our work also often includes contact with other individuals within the survivor’s life such as her caregiver, family and attorney. As part of the accompaniment process, each case is assigned by the coordinator of the department to a specific volunteer from the team. The coordinator is responsible for tracking the progress of the case as well as follow up. Our program also aims to raise awareness and change attitudes of law enforcement agencies on the unique implications of sexual assault.
The Center's ongoing relationship with the police has succeeded in bringing about radical change in law enforcement's perceptions of sexual assault survivors and establishing a more sensitive, empathetic approach to them. These programs improve upon law enforcement agencies' roles by educating them about the unique implications of sexual violence, along with the rights and needs of survivors, raising their awareness of relevant issues and providing them with the tools to give the necessary support. The police process, which in the past only amplified victims' emotional stress, has become a tool of empowerment.
A sign of this program's success is the fact that our lectures are now included in the police department’s required training course as well as in their continuing education courses. We have also developed customized presentations for specific unit training on violent crimes, child protection, juvenile crimes, domestic violence and internal affairs. In addition, we conduct lectures, full day seminars and training courses for officers at various police stations. We have also held numerous meetings to discuss the effect of secondary trauma that officers experience as a result of their work with survivors. These ongoing meetings and trainings are especially important in light of the high turn-over rate in units dealing with sexual assault.
Judicial Process Accompaniment
This department advocates for and guides survivors throughout the complex, challenging and emotionally taxing judicial process. Our professional staff maintains constant contact with survivors and provides emotional support in facing the difficulties that arise throughout the trail, in addition to legal assistance. We make sure to be regularly updated in regards to the criminal proceedings and are in continual touch with the prosecutor's office (the Central District and Tel Aviv district attorneys), public defenders, mental health professionals and expert witnesses involved in the trails. Another aspect of our work with survivors is the Center’s association with private attorneys who specialize in criminal law. We help survivors by connecting them to competent outside legal representation, when appropriate, and our staff uses these legal specialists to consult on criminal proceedings when necessary. Similarly, we consult with private attorneys specializing in civil law when filing civil suits. We also have a core of volunteer lawyers and law student interns who accompany survivors during the legal process. These volunteers and interns receive specialized training from our judicial process department which includes individualized technical and emotional support before and after each accompaniment. Under the guidance of department staff, these volunteers also undertake the difficult process of submitting special appeals for judicial reexamination, a process unique to Israeli law, in cases where the state prosecution had previously decided to dismiss the case, but now have further evidence or a specific reason to request a trial.
Although, it is very rare that the Israeli judicial system reconsiders the prosecutors’ decision, granting these special appeals for trial, we have had success over the past few years in bringing closed cases to trial and continue to try to help survivors’ voices be heard in court through this process. In addition to our Judicial Process coordinator, the same volunteer who accompanied the survivor pre-trail remains with her throughout the entire judicial process, holding her hand and accompanying her to all the hearings so as to provide continuity as well as sense of added emotional security. Tragically, Center volunteers and staff are oftentimes the sole support for a survivor. In numerous cases, the family has supported the perpetrator.
As with the police, we have nurtured a strong professional relationship the Tel Aviv and Central District Attorney's Offices. We hold intensive trainings for these offices, each of which is tailored to the unique needs of the particular prosecutors so as to ensure that our course would provide new perspectives and tools. The courses combined theoretical knowledge and pragmatic skills with the goal of forming a personal, emotional connection with the survivor. It also introduced a variety of legal methods that could be used as negotiation tools within the court process. These tools are aimed at conveying to the court a fuller, more comprehensive picture of the unique implications of sexual assault and helping them to grasp the extent of the immense damage resulting from it. Moreover, we are able to harness our decades of experience to provide practical information to be utilized within the trail process, thus helping these prosecutors have a broader range of methods to use in court. As they are constantly faced with clients experiencing emotional turmoil, these attorneys are highly susceptible to secondary trauma, which is an additional training subject facilitated by the Center. As a result of our efforts, we are very pleased to have witnessed incredible positive progress in our relationship with both the Central Area and Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Offices. In the past we were viewed as an outside entity and at times in an even adversarial manner. Whereas now state prosecutors are in constant contact regarding our clients, confer with us prior to closing any cases that the Center is connected with, consult with us on complex legal situations and even refer sexual assault clients who have not been in previous contact with the Center to us for ongoing support. Another sign of our blossoming partnership is the establishment of joint meetings between senior prosecutors and our professional staff to resolve any ongoing dilemmas or problems that arise in these complex cases. This enables both groups to raise many important issues, allowing us to optimize and strengthen ties between us. Moreover, it helps us to bridge the gap between the often detached legal process and the taxing personal journey that survivors endure by integrating the language of trauma within the language of law.All of this results in improved services for survivors, a more empathetic approach and a means of ensuring that survivor's voices will be heard in the Israeli judiciary.
The Center’s Judicial Process Accompaniment Department also facilitates numerous lectures and training sessions for a wide range of audiences such as law students at universities and colleges throughout Israel, various law firms and an array of for profit and NGO organizations.
We have also invested significant efforts in the expansion of our training programs for prison staffs throughout the country. These trainings included awareness raising and tools to properly identify and address issues of sexual assault amongst prisoners. The training enables a deeper understanding of the implications of sexual trauma and methods of crisis interventions. We also conduct a special support group for social workers in the Neve Tirze prison regarding secondary trauma that the staff experiences as a result of their work with the prisoners. Additionally, we facilitate training courses for the professional staff (teachers, educational officers, clinic workers and department managers) from the Rimonim, Hadarim, Maasiyahu and Givon men's prisons.
Going to the hospital following sexual violence is often an extremely overwhelming experience. Having an advocate and emotional support to accompany the survivor through the rape kit and medical care process makes an immense difference in the whether or not it is perceived as an additional trauma. The Center facilitates trainings for doctors, nurses, hospital social workers, etc., at a variety of hospitals and medical establishments geared to convey the unique implications of sexual violence as they present in a medical situation.
Oftentimes survivors experience difficulties trying to navigate the seemingly endless hurdles that they encounter when seeking aid. For this reason, the Center provides case management by staff and social work student interns so as to help the survivor in as holistic a manner as possible. Case management assists the survivor as she reaches out to and maneuvers through various governmental services, communal bodies, non-profits and care providers. For example: Local municipal welfare bureaus, hospitals, physicians, mental health centers, psychiatric facilities etc. These advocacy and support services have proven time and again to be crucial in aiding survivors on their path to recovery.
Individual Face-to-Face Crisis Meetings
Individual face-to-face meetings empower survivors, providing them with the chance to open up to a live crisis counselor about their trauma in a supportive, safe environment. Survivors interested in meeting with Center support staff on a one- on-one basis are invited to sessions with a volunteer crisis hotline worker, social work student or staff counselor. We decide on the staffing assignment based on the complexity of the case. These meetings have been reported to be mutually beneficial for both volunteers as well as survivors. Volunteers have noted that these meetings help them to develop their counseling and professional manner while survivors find a confidante that they can trust and share with. In complex cases, we make sure to reach out and coordinate with other communal support systems or counselors from other institutions. Additionally, we provide individual support for loved-ones of survivors in order to help them to process the secondary trauma that they may be experiencing as well as offer them tools to help survivors.
Support groups provide a secure setting for survivors, who often have continuing problems with interpersonal relationships and trust, to process their trauma by sharing with others who have undergone similar experiences. It is all the more necessary to give these survivors the opportunity to speak openly because of the stigma attached to sexual violence, and the great lengths to which they may go to avoid talking about what they have experienced. Participants can identify with one another's feelings of guilt or shame, and feel a validation of their own experiences in discovering that others have gone through similar hardships. The goal is to help them move on to the next level of healing, whether it be regaining their trust in other human beings, improving their ability to form intimate relationships, or reintegrating into the community and workforce. Survivors feel empowered in two crucial ways – first by the support they receive from fellow participants and second by the opportunity they have to help other survivors in return. This year we expanded and broadened our survivors’ support groups. The sessions are tailored to best fit the distinct needs of the particular group members. We have found through research and the Center’s field experience that the extended amount of meetings enables participants to maximize the significant benefits of the group as well as giving them enough time to undergo the deep therapeutic work that serves as an essential step in processing the trauma that they endured. In order to make it convenient for participants, we hosted these groups at the Center as well as in local communal settings.
Support groups provide a secure setting for survivors who may have continuing problems with interpersonal relationships and trust to process the trauma and speak with others who have undergone similar experiences. It is all the more necessary to give these survivors the opportunity to speak openly because of the stigma attached to sexual violence, and the great lengths to which they may go to avoid talking about what they have experienced. Participants can identify with one another's feelings of guilt and shame, and feel a validation of their own experiences in discovering that others have gone through similar hardships. The goal is to help them move on to the next level of healing whether it be regaining their trust in other human beings, improving their ability to form intimate relationships, or reintegrating into the community and workforce. Survivors feel empowered in two crucial ways: by the support they receive from fellow participants, and by the opportunity they have to help other survivors in return.
Each group was tailored to best fit the distinct needs of the particular group members and consists of between 15 to 47 meetings depending on the nature of the group. We have found through research and the Center’s field experience that this amount of meetings enables participants to maximize the extensive benefits of the group as well as giving them enough time to undergo the deep therapeutic work that serves as an essential step in processing the trauma that they endured. In order to make it convenient for participants, we hosted these groups at the Center as well as in local communal settings.
These are some of our customized support groups:
- Survivors of childhood incest or sexual abuse
- Adult female survivors
- Adult male survivors
- Homosexual male survivors
- Survivors of multiple-assaults
- Survivors who struggle with substance abuse
- Survivors who are currently active duty military
- Survivors who are currently prisoners in Neve Tirza Prison
- Survivors who are having difficulty coping with activities of daily living
- Support for mothers of survivors
Group work is most effective when done in tandem with individual psychological counseling. Unfortunately, many survivors cannot afford the high cost of private mental health counseling services and the subsidized treatment, through public or NGO clinics, have a very long waiting list due to the limited spots available. After years of watching survivors struggle as they were unable to get the counseling, we decided that the Center should to take steps to help survivors to get the individual therapy that they so desperately needed. For this reason, the Center began subsidizing individual therapy and psychiatric evaluations for survivors in order to enable them to receive treatment at highly reduced fees.