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The Burden of Pain: From Sexual Abuse at the Age of 13 to the War on Sex Offenders Israel today

2021-10-15T18:03:33.332Z

Little Rahav was only 13 when her mother's partner, who was an adored father figure to her, sexually abused her • For years she kept the secret deep inside ("I did not understand how horrible what happened to me"), focused on starting a family and career, and went as far as To the position of Deputy Head of the Southern Sharon Council, where she is also responsible for projects to prevent violence against women and sex offenders • A few months ago she decided to publish her personal story, and posted an exposed post on Facebook: To everyone - even to strong and well-known women like me "



Little Rahav bites the sides of her lips, and blinks quickly.

A beautiful, strong girl, a well-known figure in the locality of Tzur Yitzhak, where she lives and serves as deputy head of the Southern Sharon Council.

But this involuntary lip bite reveals the inner turmoil of emotions that has been rising and rising in recent weeks.

She was only 13 when her mother's partner, who was about 30 years older than her, performed forbidden sexual acts on her.

He was a man of the defense establishment, a prominent father figure in her life, and she was a girl who did not understand why this evil was due to her.

The actions continued daily, for several weeks, until her mother understood what was happening and forced him to leave the house.

For years Little kept a secret from what happened to her, telling only a few friends the dry details, until a few months ago she mustered up courage, decided to be exposed, and wrote a shaky Facebook post that garnered thousands of comments and shares.

"It was important to me to show that this sexual assault could happen to anyone, even strong and well-known women like me."

She speaks fast.

Pleasant summer winds blow in her manicured backyard, but she wraps herself in a large sweater and wraps a cup of hot tea in her fingers.

"I wanted them to know that this injury will always be a part of me, whether I want to or not. Let them know that such an injury stays for years, forever. No one guessed it actually happened to me, but it happened, and I deal with it every day. Each time it floats in a different way. "I wanted to let other women who were hurt have the strength to get up and talk, go out with it and not be ashamed."

She is 38 years old, married to Eyal, her age, a real estate appraiser, and the mother of Alma (8) and Rona (6).

She spent most of her childhood in Ramat Gan, where she lived alone with her mother, who worked as a secretary during the day and as a bartender in the evening to support them both.

Her parents married young, and when she was two years old they divorced.

Over the years the relationship with her father was renewed and severed intermittently, and today they are in a good relationship.

Years after the divorce, he remarried and had another son, who was 16 years younger than Little.

"My grandparents, my mother's parents, lived in Tel Aviv, and my father's parents in Ramat Gan, next to us. They helped my mother financially, and for me they filled in the gap in the form of the father. I studied at the school next to their house and would go to them after school.

"We lived in a rented apartment where we slept on a mattress in the living room, but there was nothing missing in my room. I was the first girl in the class to have a computer, a closet, a library and even clothes from abroad, because my grandparents gave me everything.

They did not want me to feel lacking.

At one point, my mother moved to work for another family and lived there, and I stayed with my grandparents.

After about six months, we returned to our rented apartment. "

When Little was 9, her mother met her partner, D.

"My attacker," is what she calls the man who changed her life, "the monster."

To this day she hardly says his name, and even now asks to keep him anonymous.

"He passed away and I no longer have anyone to confront. And with all my pain, I have nothing to raise the pain in front of his family, who were left behind and were not part of the story.

"At first I was very enthusiastic about him," she recalls.

"He had a lot of decorations from work, I felt like suddenly there was a man in the house, who cared, who was present. I never experienced that in my house, and he was a father figure for me and brought with him a family atmosphere. Discipline was very important to him, and he would sit with me on homework and chores. And gave me learning skills that I use to this day.He would drive me to companies, we would go on trips and picnics together.As for me, in the absence of Dad who was not present in my life, it was very easy for him to get into the role.

"After a year and a half we moved in with him in a rented apartment in Givatayim, and our standard of living went up. I was a happy and happy girl. I even remember sometimes calling him 'Daddy.' "That was good. I erased for myself the years I developed in them, that I grew up in them. I preferred not to remember anything."

In her office in the Southern Sharon Regional Council.

"We started organizing lectures of the 'Hotline for Men Beating' for employees", Photo: From the family album

• • •

Her nightmare began one afternoon, when she was in eighth grade.

She came back from school and D. was home.

"He was lying in bed because he was not feeling well. I sat down next to him, and as always I told him about all sorts of things that happened at school. We had a good relationship. During the story he stroked my back in such a paternal section, and suddenly it changed."

She freezes for a moment, then bites her lips again and blinks quickly.

"You're there but you do not understand what's going on. And you's freezing. Now I remember how he lay on the bed, I sat on the floor and he put his hand in my underwear, in the back.

"I remember he tried to kiss me, and I closed my mouth with my teeth and he used a little force to open it. I had never kissed before, and he kissed me even though I did not want to. I do not remember how that time ended, but it was the beginning of something. Which lasted almost every day for a few weeks, every time he was home when I came back from school. "

She closes her eyes tightly.

"I have his flashes touching my chest, kissing, touching hidden organs, and I freeze. I remember every time it happened I froze, and after it was over I would cry. And every time he would ask me why I was crying, and when I answered 'you did this and that to me' He would deny it. He would say, 'I? What are you talking about? How come you are not ashamed to say such a thing about me. I am like your father. I took you and did so much for you. It did not happen.'

"He was just trying to make me think I was imagining. I remember one time I went in to take a shower after it happened, and I cried like crazy, but I did not know why I was crying. "To be hospitalized in a psychiatric institution. Either way, I clearly had reason to cry."

For years she was angry with herself, blaming herself for not stopping his actions, beating herself up for continuing to enter the room of the man who had harmed her.

Now she wraps her hands around each other, as if describing the vortex she felt as she tried to figure out if what was happening to her was real.

"I was in a movie like this, I had to figure out if it's real or if it's playing with my head. I was in a loop. And when I felt I was completely losing my sanity, I decided, one day on a break, to talk to my girlfriend. I told her everything, She asked me to tell my mother, and said that if I did not tell, she would tell. Then I was even more afraid. How can I tell my mother such a thing? How can I bring her back to the hard life we ​​had?

"That day, when I got home, it happened again. Then I went to bed at noon in my bed, and hugged a picture of me and my mother, and a bear she bought me when I was three. D. fell asleep, and forgot the key inside the door, and my mother could not enter the house. Until he opened it for her.

"Luckily, it was already on her red light, which got stronger when she saw me sleeping with the bear and the picture. But she still said nothing. That evening we all spent together, did a photo session with a camera, for fun, and I said to myself that here, we are a normal family, "Everything is fine. But after we finished, I went into the room and started crying."

Little in her youth.

"He brought an atmosphere of family,"

Little's mother realized that something bad was happening to her.

She went into her room and begged her to share.

When Little refused, she offered to write.

"She told me she was going to take a shower, and she knew I was more comfortable writing, and asked that when she came out a letter be waiting for her. That I'm going to ruin for my mom the good thing that's happening to her with him.

"But I told him to go out, and I sat down and wrote. I wrote to her that I did not want to ruin her life, but I wanted to tell her something about D. I wrote that he touched me, that he did things to me that should not be done, I took everything out.

"When she came out of the shower and read the first line, she closed the letter and gave me a really strong hug. She told me she believed me, that everything would be fine. I had no doubt she believed me. We were in the room alone, and she told me the next day, when I went home. The book, that I will not come to class but will wait for her at the bus stop, and also asked that after school I do not return home, but go to sleep with a friend of mine.

"I do not know how I went through that night, but I really remember waiting for the morning to come, because I realized that in the morning everything would be over. As of this morning, it will no longer happen."

In the morning, her mother took her to the welfare department of the Givatayim municipality.

"For an hour I sat with the city social worker and told her everything I went through, time and time again, with my mother holding my hand. Then I went to work with my mother, and at noon I came to my girlfriend. My mother explained to her mother what was happening, and I felt protected by her.

"While I slept at night with the friend, my mother came home to tell D. to get out of the house. She did not tell him why, only said he should fly, that he would not return. He guessed I told, told her I was a liar, and aimed his gun at her. In retrospect. I realized this was not the first time he had done it, and in the end he said he was going but that he would take care of putting some police file on her.

"My mother also spoke to my school principal, asking her to note that he was not coming to school and trying to contact me. After she made sure he was leaving the house, she called a friend I slept with and said I could go home."

Her eyes water as she recalls how she cut out all the pictures from the bat mitzvah celebration he organized for her by surprise.

"Have you ever seen a bat mitzvah album where all the pictures are cut? Because that's what my mom and I did after he left. We tore up the video of the event, and cut it out of all the pictures.

"I took drinking glasses he liked to drink, and smashed them one by one on the floor. Anything that somehow reminded him of home, we destroyed."

• • •

Immediately after the affair exploded, Little began to deteriorate academically.

She knew that studies were the most important thing to D., and she wanted to hurt everything related to him, so she just stopped studying.

For a year and a half after the discovery she was treated by a social worker, "who begged me and my mother to complain about D. to the police, but we were afraid, because he worked in the security system and feared he would carry out his threats. My mother did agree to report to the station. Refused to give his name.

"Later she told me that even though their relationship seemed good and strong, it was not really like that. After I published my post, she told me that a week before everything exploded she wanted to say goodbye to him, but then he attached a gun to her temple for the first time.

"He would play in our head. He would tell me bad things about my mother, so that I would not appreciate her, and he would tell her that he catches me lying about all sorts of things, like studies and the like. He really planned everything, so that if and when I tell her, That sounds ridiculous, but my mother knew what I was saying was true.

"She was scared for our lives," she pauses.

"She knew his essence was his good name, ostensibly, and if we ruined it for him he might murder us. She thought she needed time to prepare for this breakup. And when she realized what he did to me, she realized we must run away. That's my mother. If so. If a disaster happens to you, God bless you, she is the person you want to be by your side. "

Were you angry that you did not complain?

"There was a time when I was angry, yes. I did not understand why we were giving up on him. How can it be that he comes out of it with nothing and I remain broken. I did not understand what my mother is afraid of. What, he can murder me? It seemed absurd to me.

"Today, when I hear about cases of murder in the family, I understand that yes, he was able to murder us. It was a real fear. I also respected her wish, because there was no chance in the world that I would go and complain without her.

"In general, I was angry at everything possible. I was also angry at my father. In my head, if he had not left many years ago, D. would not have come and it would not have happened."

Shortly after leaving the house, D. returned Little's mother's keys to the rented apartment, and disappeared.

A year later, Little and her mother left for another apartment in Givatayim, and the mother met another spouse.

"They are married to this day and he is an amazing person, who introduces me as his daughter," she relaxes, and finally smiles.

Did you meet D. again?

"Yes, after two years. When I was in tenth grade I went out with some friends to a party, and then to a cafe. There I suddenly saw him. I ran out crying, but my friends encouraged me to come in. I realized he was the one who should be afraid of me. I mobilized all the mental forces that were Lee, and I sat at the table with his face to him, without saying a word.

"He recognized me, but said nothing. He got out a little in front of us, and when we got out he passed a car, really close, and he took his head out the window so I could see it was him. And that's it, he disappeared. I told my mother, and she hugged me and calmed me, and we understood Forget about him. "

With her husband Eyal and daughters Alma Verona.

"The more he was willing to hear more descriptions or feelings, the more I could tell," Photo: From the private album

• • •

She did not complete her matriculation, but received a certificate that she had completed 12 years of schooling.

In the army, she served as a T.S.

After advancing in a management position company, she opened her own office to recruit real estate appraisers and real estate officials.

Over the years, only a few individual friends have shared in D.'s actions.

The story she told was emotionless.

"I just told you that my mother's partner touched me, that after a while I told the company and that's it, it's over. That's how I was raised - when something happens, we first survive it, and the emotion is processed on occasion. I'm not sure I realized it's something big."

She also told her husband Eyal, the person closest to her, only over the years.

"In one of our meetings, when we started dating, I told him, like everyone else, in a very cold, technical way. I told him my mother had a partner who touched me, and that's it. He had a hard time digesting it, but he was very empathetic. He realized I did not want to expand. , So also did not ask beyond that.

"Over the years we had a lot of conversations because we are a couple sitting and talking. He would ask me more details, and I answered. The more he was willing to hear more things about it, like descriptions or feelings, the more I could tell.

"My girls still do not know, and I need to think about how to tell them, in a language they will understand. Because on the one hand I want them to know that there are wolves, and on the other hand, I do not want to stress them that this wolf can be found in every corner."

Are you afraid of them?

"If one of my daughters says he burns her in disguise, I will not rule out the blackest scenario. But I am constantly thinking about how to give them the tools to deal with such things, without conveying anxieties to them."

A few years ago, a mutual acquaintance of D. and her mother told her that D. had passed away.

"I did a Google search on him, and I saw on the obituary page of the defense establishment that he was fighting cancer and left behind a wife and children. By my reckoning, the children were born a little after the time he lived with my mother, which made us wonder if he lived with two women at the same time. I dug into the matter.

"At first I was glad he was dead. I said 'God, it's from above. I could not do anything with it, and someone avenged my revenge.' That his obituary page is full of kind words, when in fact he was a monster.

"For years I was angry that such a big chapter in my life was gone for me, even though there were good things in it, because he made it just bad. But a year ago I went to his grave, to tell him I forgave him. I realized I had only to forgive. I felt I had to To forgive - for the injury, for the loss of trust, for the abandonment - to allow myself to move forward. "

Little leans back in her chair.

Now that she can finally talk about everything, emotions spill out, on a night of joy mixed with pain.

One moment she cries, and a moment later her smile lights up her face.

It is very easy to connect to it.

Her long hair rests gently on her shoulders, her smile captivating, the tone of speech pleasant.

"The social worker," she says, "worked with me mainly on the physical trauma, not to lose faith in men, but I did not feel that they were talking about the essence. After that I tried all kinds of treatments. I tried healing, psychologists, rabbis. I felt everyone missed the fact that he was like Dad for me. Dad who chose to be there, and chose to hurt me. That it's losing Dad for the second time, and more in such circumstances.

"In the army, I began to feel anxiety attacks, which I still feel today. Many times I suddenly felt short of breath, my body was shaking and my tears kept coming down. Twice I arrived at the Tel Hashomer hospital with uncontrollable crying and an accelerated pulse.

"Only recently, in one of the guided imagery treatments, did I realize that what had happened to me was terrible. Until then, I did not realize how terrible it was, because I had disconnected from my body. I would tell about it as if it had happened to someone else. Only now do I begin to digest. When I open a newspaper and read about a woman whose partner has hurt her and her child, I realize I could have been a headline in the newspaper.

"I do not think people understand this, but from the moment such a thing happens, it will accompany me until I die. For years my self-image was damaged. It takes on a different face each time, but it's part of my personality. Victims of sexual assault can never be again "Those who were before the attack. You are developing, but the attack is developing with me. And it hurts."

• • •

The injury she experienced did not stop her from advancing professionally.

Five years ago, she was elected a member of the Southern Sharon Regional Council, which coordinates 31 localities, and in 2018, with the election of Oshrat Ganei Gonen as chairman of the council, she was appointed its deputy.

She holds a service portfolio for residents and is responsible for culture, welfare and the environment, and was recently elected chair of the Vice Forum at the Regional Government Center.

"We have an amazing relationship, I believe in her very much and she is a bulldozer who fights for her residents. When I started working for the council, Oshrat spurred me to study for a degree, she strongly believes in me. And for the first time since what happened to me At Ariel University.

"I told myself that I was ready to go back to this whole subject, that studying was important even if the person who taught me it hurt me a lot. I finished the first semester with an average of 85. I realized that with the right motivation I can study until the middle of the night."

"I got to the point where it burned in me. I felt like I wanted to write it already. To say, 'Yeah, it happened to me, too.'"

Little Rahav, Photo: Efrat Eshel

As part of its activities on the council, Little promotes projects to prevent violence against women and to promote gender equality.

One of them is a project to change the public discourse regarding sexual assaults, which she worked on with Mirit Katz, advisor to the head of the Council for the Promotion of Gender Equality, and with Tami Farber, director of the Social Services Division.

"A fundamental change needs to be made in the whole treatment of sex crime," she taps her finger on the table.

"All the time we see posts with warning signs for women, for example, 'This is how you know he's violent.' But what about the men? How will he recognize that he is violent?

"I have also started working for the establishment of sex offender courts, courts that will know how to handle such special cases. Since the formation of the new government, I have been meeting with MKs and trying to promote the idea.

In general, I believe we can promote legislation that will ensure that women and girls are protected and safe. "

About four years ago, when the #MeToo campaign began to gain momentum around the world, Little also thought about putting her story out, "but I did not feel I was ready for great exposure in front of people I did not really know. I have several thousand friends on Facebook, half of whom I do not personally know. I did not know if I was ready for the reactions it would bring.

"I started writing posts about violence against women, and sexual assaults, I kept going around. Until I got to the point where it burned in me. I felt like I wanted to write it already. Go out with it. Say 'yes, it happened to me too.' A stage that I'm going through in my way of dealing with this thing, and as a public team it's time I passed on this message, that such things happen, and it's more common than you think. It can happen to someone who looks strong, like me. When it happened to me I froze and did nothing and it still does not make me weak.

"It was important to me that they understand the consequences of such an injury, and how many years it is carried, not only on the physical level but on the psychological level. Anyone who has had this happen in a dark alley may think she should never walk the alleys again. "I did not touch on my studies. Although I did not complain, because I could understand my mother's concerns, but I encourage you to complain."

• • •

One night, in March of this year, Little sat in the yard of her house with the phone, and began to write.

"My attacker is dead. He was a father figure," she wrote, imitating.

Then she wrote another draft, and deleted.

And again a draft, and an imitation.

After five attempts, she took a deep breath, and from there everything flowed.

"My assailant is dead. He was a father figure. I was an elementary school student, in eighth grade, and he is in a senior position ... My assailant is dead. I have no one to confront today when I am strong and understand that I am not guilty, I have nothing to publish justice in and all "All I have left is to forgive, especially myself. For what I froze. Forgive and let go. My attacker is dead. The injury is not."

"It was very late, but people started writing comments," she says.

"I started getting messages from my friends, my mom, and the madness only got worse in the morning. I'm not a person who posts things to applaud me, but the warm responses did me good. I realized my messages get through, and are received on fertile ground and with love.

"Men who work with me told me I was excited. People I don't know started telling me personal stories about their sexual assault, that their children went through. Someone wrote to me that his daughter went through something similar, and told me how hard it was for him. I was amazed to see how this post touched "Everyone is in a different place, and how much he can promote other victims."

She takes a deep breath.

"I would very much like to talk regularly with teenagers who have experienced sexual assault and support them, but I do not feel I have the tools to treat such a soft and hurtful soul. I know that any wrong statement is fateful, and it is a responsibility I can not yet take on.

"But if telling my story will help bring about a change in consciousness or discourse, I'm also willing to shout it out from Azrieli. It's not easy, it's not easy, but if it can help even one person or one person, it's all worth it."

batchene@gmail.com

Source: israelhayom

All news articles on 2021-10-15

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