Few people in British Jewry will be unaware of the recent corruption scandal to feature in the news.
Anti-semitism is a regular topic of conversation amongst Jewish people. Recently, in the UK, Jeremy Corbyn has been heavily criticised for his (in)actions and words on this subject. Often you will hear the sound-bite from Jewish Leaders and activists, that there should be a “zero tolerance approach” towards anti-Semitism and anti-Semites.
(This picture was taken from https://antisemitism.uk/act/labour-hold-corbyn-to-account/ )
Most law-abiding citizens would agree, however, that child sex abuse is an horrific crime and one that certainly should fit into the criteria of having a zero tolerance apporoach. But is this actually the case in our communities?
In order to satisfy a zero tolerance approach towards child sex abuse, all abusers must be brought to justice and all alleged abusers must face a fair and independent investigation by the police (and subsequently face trial if necessary). Despite this sounding seemingly obvious, there are large swathes of our Jewish communities that fall down at this basic first hurdle. Even in the UK there have been numerous cases where abusers have received financial aid from the community, organised communal shunning against victims and their families, and in some cases witness intimidation.
An often neglected part of the elusive zero tolerance approach regards the enablers of abuse. These are the people who cover up or try to minimise the abuse, or help abusers escape to a difference country (as has happened countless times). It is irrelevant what their motivation is, the intended (and often achived) outcome is to prevent the abuser from facing justice and leaving open the very likely possibility that the abuser will be free to abuse other innocent victims.
Enabling of abuse can take many forms and is certainly not restricted to the above. Again, many communities are happy for enablers to operate freely. Often, enablers are even appointed for this very purpose and are usually placed in positions of significant influence and seniority. In many cases enablers operate within the law (or is very difficult to provide enough evidence of illegal behaviour), and whilst there may not be any practical legal recourse, this doesn’t mean that communities do not need to operate responsibly in preventing enablers from averting justice.
To genuinely claim to have zero tolerance requires the calling out of enablers and anyone who supports the enablers. As noted previously, enablers usually rely on their communal influence to achieve their objective. As such, once it is known that a person is an enabler, they should not be given any platform within the community unless they have publicly and sincerely retracted their support for the abuser(s), and apologised to their victims. They should not be afforded any respect above anyone else, and where possible (there may be legal implications preventing this), they should be removed from all positions of communal authority even in unrelated matters. It is not possible to have enablers of abuse maintaining any level of authoritative respect and still claim that the community is zero tolerance when it comes to child sex abuse.
Zero tolerance means abusers must not be tolerated and enablers must not be tolerated. Protecting abusers, and respecting those who have enabled abuse, only allows abusers to create more victims.
If we, as a community, rightly demand a zero tolerance attitude towards anti-Semitism, shouldn’t we demand the same standards towards child sex abuse in order to protect our children?
Whilst Jeremy Corbyn receives condemnation for not adequately addressing the problems within his party, how many of us are guilty of the doing the exact same thing? Maybe his Passover message should encourage us to take a look at ourselves in the same light?
Yehudis Goldsobel has been put forward for the first national award for independent sexual violence advisors writes the Jewish News
A charity support worker for Jewish victims of sexual abuse has been nominated for the first national award for independent sexual violence advisors (ISVAs).
Yehudis Goldsobel, who works for the charity Migdal Emunah and who has exposed problems in the Jewish community, has been shortlisted for the LimeLight Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The advisors help victims understand the criminal justice process, explain what happens when reporting an offence to the police, and stress the importance and process of forensic DNA retrieval. Cultural sensitivities are crucial, and Yehudis is the only qualified Jewish IVSA in the UK and works across the entire religious spectrum of the Jewish community.
The award recognises excellence, dedication and commitment to supporting victims of sexual violence, and Yehudis said: “I am delighted that the value of my work with Migdal Emunah is being recognised in the wider community. It is very powerful to be now supporting individuals though the trauma associated with sexual abuse and to be guiding people through the challenges and daunting nature of the legal process.”
The awards will be announced at the National Conference for ISVAs ‘Knowledge and Network’ on Wednesday 28 September.
When we entrust the education and care of our children to members of the community, group leaders, teachers, neighbours, private tutors or babysitters, we assume that they are trustworthy because they are qualified or are ‘nice neighbours’.
Children are by nature more trusting and have not yet developed the maturity and worldliness to foster the necessary suspicion to keep them safe. The responsibility is naturally placed upon the parents.
Abuse is a taboo topic. This isn’t generally a subject mentioned at any stage whether it’s in school, dating and later on, marriage and children. This causes the additional pressure on any victim against coming forward for fear of being a ‘moiser/informer’ and the potential of ruining their own shidduch/dating prospects.
Abuse can and does happen within the Jewish community and unfortunately there is not yet a system in place that assists in dealing with it. Abuse, like disease and mental illness, has the ability to occur in any home.
There are no typical victims of child abuse; any child can be victimised, however, many preventative measures are put in place.
It behoves each parent and guardian to educate themselves in preventative measures, as well as a procedure for the after effects in accordance with English law.
Until we educate ourselves the unfortunate cycle of abuse will continue.
Migdal Emunah launched in February 2013, providing a support service for Jewish victims of sexual abuse and their families.
We provide practical and emotional support in a variety of ways for victims and those affected by the trauma of sexual abuse.
Migdal Emunah actively engages in raising awareness of Sexual Abuse and challenging the myths and taboos surrounding abuse.
Migdal Emunah works across all denominations of the Jewish Community. We offer services to meet the needs of our clients including, access to advice, advocacy and support. Clients are regularly reviewed to ensure they are benefiting and working well.
Migdal Emunah is a voluntary agency and a registered charity. We are therefore able to link in with the statutory services as well as other voluntary agencies for the benefit of our clients.
Migdal Emunah provides impartial and professional services, including access to a trained Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA), trained counsellors, sex therapist, family therapists and childrens therapist. We also provide access to rabbinical advice, legal advice and psychologists.
All Migdal Emunah representatives have received extensive professional training and highly experienced, in order that we can offer the highest standard of service and independent client care to individuals and families who contact us for help.
“I am a survivor of both sexual and domestic abuse. I blocked out my experiences for several years but eventually I was unable to ignore how broken I was inside. Migdal Emunah have been there for me ever since I reached out for help. One to one therapy as well as a fortnightly support group, work in tandem to help me recover.”
“I was terrified to face my past and share my journey with others. When I contacted Migdal Emunah I was still afraid but doing something brave empowered me. Meeting others on a similar journey has been a giant step forward and is speeding up the healing process. Joining the bi weekly support group has taken away a huge chunk of loneliness that engulfed me for years. I am very thankful for my new friends and the wonderful understanding staff at Migdal Emunah.”
“What I found so helpful about Migdal Emunah is it gave me a place I felt I belonged, just meeting other people who had been through similar experiences in the support group made me feel normal, and completely accepted.”
“I was in such darkness when I turned to Migdal Emunah. Their patience, acceptance and kindness had helped me to start questioning the negative, distorted thinking and beliefs system I hold. I am forever thankful for the individual and group therapy I attend, which Migdal Emunah organised for me. Knowing I’m not alone, making new friends and having a brilliant support system has made me hopeful that life can be better and that I don’t need to live in the shadows anymore. Thank you!”
“Child Abuse left me for dead. My self-esteem, my identity, the person I call ‘me’ disintegrated into thin air. I became nothing, invisible. Child Abuse left me so lonely, so terrified, so depressed and anxious of everything; I’m sometimes still surprised I’m alive. Child Abuse took away my feelings and left me numb, Child Abuse still holds me in its grip, hisses at me and makes me believe I deserve to suffer, to be dead.
Migdal Emunah and therapy are the medicines I take to relieve myself off Child Abuse. They make me feel alive, infuse me with pride for who I am and that I am ‘me’. For the first time in my life I have friends who care, understand, listen and sooth. They make me feel I deserve everything that this world has to offer.
Migdal Emunah are giving me my feelings back, they help me release my grip off my past and allow me to trust and heal. Thank you Migdal Emunah for helping me put myself back together again, for allowing me to appear and take my place in the world. You are slowly saving my life, you care.”
Volunteer ~ Trustee Roles
We are looking for motivated and forward thinking individuals to join our already fantastic board of Trustees. Being a very small organisation our Trustees have a greater say in the direction of the charity as well as day to day activities. We are the only charity in the community supporting a very specific client group and aim to provide the utmost professional and respectful service, thus we all bring those qualities to the table.
If you are seeking an opportunity to give back to the community in a meaningful and impactful way then get in touch – we look forward to hearing from you.
Volunteer ~ Social Media Manager
We are looking for a social media manager to lead and manage our social media platforms in order to boost visibility engagement. This involves managing our online presence by developing a strategy, producing good content, analysing usage data, engaging appropriately and managing campaigns.
This would require a few hours a month but would need organisation and forward thinking.
Our services rely on your donations; please support us so we can support others.
The money you give will provide much-needed help for the organization, from general running costs to the bigger expenses. Such as support groups, individual therapy, training for staff, school training days and community informative evenings.
Please donate via the link below, all payments are secure, and information will not be passed on to third parties.
Due to a cut in funding we are currently unable to take on new clients or provide support services.
Independent Sexual Violence Advisors – Coming soon
Our Independent Sexual Violence Advisor (ISVA) is trained to look after your needs, and to ensure that you receive care and understanding. They will help you understand all the options available to you, how the criminal justice process works, and will explain things to you, such as what will happen if you report to the police, and the importance of seeking professional support.
Our ISVA is there to provide you with information only so that you can make the right decision for you. By contacting them, you are not expected to report any offence to the police.
What can you expect from your ISVA?
- Confidential and Independent Service – Not Linked to the Police
- A safe, comfortable and private place to meet
- Full explanation of the Criminal Justice System
- One to One support & Guidance through the Investigation and Court Process
- Weekly Telephone/Email Support
- Information and support to help you report a crime to the Police
- Fast-track referral pathways to supporting agencies
- Assistance to submit anonymous intelligence to the Police
- Coping Skills
- Signposting and referrals to other specialist agencies
- A bespoke care plan just for you
Our ISVA has received extensive training and comes with experience of supporting people at a time of crisis. They are funded by the Mayors Office for Police & Crime and cost you nothing. They are here to represent your best interests and make sure you have all the information you need to make informed choices about your case and your future.
Adult Individual Counselling
All clients have an initial assessment with the Service Development Practitioner and are then matched with a suitable counsellor. You have the opportunity to share your experience with them and talk about what you would like to get out of your time in therapy. It is also an opportunity to see if you feel comfortable to continue to work together with your therapist, as we acknowledge and respect research that highlights the importance of a good therapeutic relationship. Our individual counselling service allows you to work on a one-to-one basis with your personal therapist; with the aim of making positive change in your life. We aim to provide you with a safe and supportive environment to explore any problems you may be experiencing. Talking to a trained professional may help you look at problems from a different angle and begin to equip you with the necessary strategies to work through your difficulties. Counselling aims to alleviate suffering, solve problems and help people live more satisfying lives. It often targets a particular symptom or situation and explores ways of dealing with it. Distinct methods of counselling start from different theoretical bases – typically humanistic, psychodynamic, cognitive or behavioural. You will generally have weekly appointments with your therapist.
A safe and supportive environment that individuals can meet each other and share. Facilitated by a qualified counsellor, meetings occur weekly. In a support group, members provide each other with various types of help, usually non-professional and nonmaterial, for a particular shared, usually burdensome, characteristic. Members with the same issues can come together for sharing coping strategies, to feel more empowered and for find a sense of community. The help may take the form of providing and evaluating relevant information, relating personal experiences, listening to and accepting others’ experiences, providing sympathetic understanding and establishing social networks.
Couples counselling, previously known as marital therapy or marriage guidance, addresses the problems arising from adult sexual or intimate relationships. The relationship, rather than the two individuals, is the ‘client’. Our very closest relationship, a marriage; is based on intimacy and trust. When it stops working we are affected deeply and our health and happiness suffer. Our sense of identity and self-worth often rests on the strength of our relationships and we can despair when our prime relationship fails. Pressures of work, family, money and health all take their toll. Patterns of behaving that we learned as children often re-emerge in our adult relationship. A childhood ‘scapegoat’ may start to feel blamed for everything by the partner who once adored them. Psychosexual issues can highlight a problem within the relationship or arise from the past. Childhood sexual abuse, for example, can impact on an otherwise happy relationship and can be helped with a suitably qualified practitioner. Communicating and staying connected during difficult times may feel impossible. Skills are available to help you listen and be heard, particularly when the unbearable needs to be heard and acknowledged.
Children & Adolescent Individual Therapy
Counselling for children and young people may differ from counselling for adults, and will depend on the child’s age, specific difficulties and their development. Different methods may be used to encourage young children to be able to express their difficulties, such as play and art. For example, reading stories and talking about feelings of a character in that story may help the child to discuss their own feelings, or drawing/painting/drama may help children to express themselves. These methods all give the counsellor a great insight into the unconscious mind of the child. Older children may prefer talking therapy, or a mixture of both, and the counselling approach will depend on a particular individual. Although different methods may be used for counselling children, the aim of counselling for both children and adults is ultimately the same; to help the individual cope better with their emotions and feelings.
Play therapy in general is based on the belief that play links a child’s internal thoughts to the outside world. It connects concrete experience and abstract thought while allowing the child to safely express experiences, thoughts, feelings and desires that might be more threatening if directly addressed.
Art therapy invites clients to express their feelings, dreams, wishes and inner experiences through different art media. The art work is considered to be a representation of the object world, but those creating it project part of themselves onto the work. The art, therefore, is seen to contain both the object and a representation of the client’s self. It can allow clients to distance themselves from what they are working with.
Family therapy emerged from systems theory, which sees families as living systems. There are different models of family therapy, but often common elements include the use of genograms or family trees, videos or one-way screens and narrative therapy. There is focus on context of problems, thus family therapy can be seen as an ecological approach.
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger for example, via the internet. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children.
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening.
Both men, women, and children can commit acts of sexual abuse. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males.
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyber bullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
Physical abuse is when an adult deliberately hurts a child causing them physical harm i.e, cuts, bruises, broken bones or other injuries. It may involve hitting, kicking, pinching, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning or suffocating. It may be by hand or an object, for example, household utensils. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers), or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs (Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2011).
By Tim Lamden, 7 March 2014, Ham&High.
A woman who suffered years of sexual abuse as a child feared she could be confronted in the street by her abuser after he launched a bid to be released from jail.
Yehudis Goldsobel, 28, who has waived her right to lifelong anonymity, told the Ham&High she had been left panicked after discovering Menachem Levy, 41, an Orthodox Jew, had appealed against his conviction and three-year prison sentence for sexual abuse.
The father-of-seven, of Princes Park Avenue, Golders Green, was jailed last June for abusing Ms Goldsobel over a six-year period, beginning when she was just 13.
But on Tuesday of last week, Levy, who was a friend of the victim’s Orthodox Jewish family, had his case at the Court of Appeal dismissed by three of the country’s top judges.
Speaking after the verdict, Ms Goldsobel said: “I hadn’t mentally prepared myself for bumping into him in the street. It saddened me to think this weekend I could bump into him in north west London.
“It’s all well and good that I’m an adult standing up now. But I was once a child and he ruined my childhood. We all have free choice to do what we do and he chose to do what he did and he ruined my childhood.”
Lawyers representing Levy, who was convicted of two counts of indecent assault and cleared of one count of rape last year, argued his convictions were “unsafe” because jurors were misdirected by the trial judge and were “pressured” into reaching verdicts.
His barrister, Tania Griffiths QC, also urged judges to reduce his jail term, claiming his sentence had had a “devastating effect” on his family and had resulted in him losing his business.
She told the court Levy has not yet seen his youngest child – born after he was jailed – and would miss the “critical date” of his eldest son’s Bar Mitzvah, unless his sentence was cut.
But judges Lord Justice Fulford, sitting with Mr Justice Griffith Williams and Judge David Griffith-Jones QC, dismissed the appeal, insisting the convictions were safe and Levy’s sentence was appropriate, in light of the grave crimes he committed.
Ms Goldsobel said: “When I read the appeal it was about how he hasn’t met his two-month-old baby and how his family don’t deserve this.
“Of course I feel sympathetic to them because they didn’t do anything wrong either. When he did what he did he didn’t just ruin my life, he ruined his family’s life.”
Ms Goldsobel, who started charity Migdal Emunah two years ago, offering therapy and advice sessions for victims of childhood abuse, is now campaigning to make changes to the criminal justice system following her experience of the appeal system.
“All the people in the courtroom [in the original trial] were so particular to make sure it didn’t come to this,” she said. “Obviously there was some way for them to create an appeal which drags the victim back in. The fact that he can go through two trials and then an appeal means the whole thing went too far.
“The fact that any perpetrator can do that is dragging their victim back into their mess and that, for me, is heartbreaking.
“But that’s how this country works. It’s a criminal justice system, not a victim justice system.”
For more information about Ms Goldsobel’s charity, visit www.migdalemunah.com.