Dealing with child abuse in Israel

Recent studies are bringing to light the hidden pain of child abuse. No more is this a one-time event, but this event has life-long effects in older children, teenagers, and adults.

According to the Jerusalem Post, a study done by the University of Haifa, in 2015, 52.9 percent of children had been abused or victimized. Of those children, 18.7 percent suffered sexual abuse. This means thousands and thousands of children have been abused.

One of the conditions that can affect adults, that stem from sexual abuse, is endometriosis and pelvic disorders. Endometriosis, as defined by the Endometriosis Global Forum, is a disorder of the uterus where the monthly lining is not expelled as it should through menstruation. The lining, or also called tissue, travels to other parts of the body. It can go to the ovaries, fallopian tubes, the pelvic cavity, ligaments that support the uterus, and the rectal septum. The lower internal organs of the bladder, intestines, and appendix can also be affected. In very rare cases, these tissues have been found on the spine and brain.

Severe pain and heavy menstrual bleeding characterize endometriosis. Increased fatigue and abdominal bloating are also common. The most painful symptom is infertility. Over 30-40 percent of women who have endometriosis are unable to get pregnant.

Scientists have been struggling to find distinct causes of endometriosis as it does not follow traditional disease patterns similar to a bacteria or virus. Also, endometriosis does not mimic cancer or tumor-like approach with antigen markers.

Treatment for endometriosis is varied depending on the severity of the disorder. Birth control pills can help regulate cycles and decrease the heavy bleeding. Pain medication, heating pads, and rest can ameliorate some of the symptoms when they are severe. Laparoscopy surgery, to remove the adhered tissues, can be helpful to some women. In severe cases, a hysterectomy is performed to remove the uterus.

One study, done by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development looked at 60,000 women’s health reports who had endometriosis. It was found that 31 percent (18,600 women) of these women reported some kind of abuse, and 12 percent (7200 women) stated that had sexual abuse. By looking at these numbers, a correlation has to be drawn from child abuse to the life-long effects present in adulthood.

To protect the children of Israel, use these steps to deal with child abuse. First of all, provide a safe environment to talk. Let the child know that they are being heard and that the report is being taken seriously. Listen and reassure the child that they are safe, and do not overly question them. It is best to have a professional to ask them questions in a protected manner, so the child does not feel like they are being interrogated.

Next, write down what the child says. Try to use exact quotes if possible. This will enable the authorities to have a better understanding of what is going on. Do not make promises to the child that may not be kept. Promises such as, “I won’t tell anyone else,” will only hurt the child’s trust. Also, it is crucial to let the child knows that they are not in trouble, and the authorities are there to protect them.

Notifying the authorities is the next step. However, if the child is in immediate danger, this step should be done first! Call 100 to reach the Police. It is important to make sure that the instructions from the police and authorities are correctly followed.

Lastly, by Israeli law, abuse is a mandated crime that must be reported. This does not mean that a person can tell someone else to do it or have their supervisor do it. The person who discovers the abuse must report it, themselves, to the appropriate authorities.

The children of Israel are looking to the grownups and elders of the land to protect them from child abuse. The effects of violence are not just what is immediately seen but can hurt them for the rest of their life. For girls, the risk of endometriosis and the pain of infertility are a terrible price to pay.

About the Author
Rachel Brenner is a Professor of Jewish Studies. Her research focuses on Jewish Literature and has published dozens of scholarly articles and book chapters.