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1. Does the Jewish community need Tzedek, its own prevention and support service for victims/survivors of sexual abuse ?

2. Why does Tzedek use the phrase "victim/survivor"?

3. What is Tzedek doing to educate parents, teachers, friends and the broader Jewish community to enable them to try and protect our children?

4. What is Tzedek actually doing in terms of advocating for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse?

5. Are there perpetrators of child sexual abuse still living within the Jewish community?

6. Why doesn't Tzedek publish a list of names of those people within the Jewish community who have had allegations of child sexual abuse made against them?

7. How many victims/survivors of child sexual abuse are there within the Australian Jewish community?

8. Why does it take so long for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse to disclose and why do only a small percentage of those victims/survivors seek justice?

9. Why have some victims/survivors decided to take the issue of child sexual abuse to the media?

10. Does Tzedek offer counselling services?

 

 

1. There are a number of organisations providing prevention services and support to victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. Why do we need an organisation like Tzedek?

It is true that there are a number of Australian organisations that provide prevention services and support for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. Importantly, none of them specifically addresses child sexual abuse within the Australian Jewish community.

There are cultural sensitivities and barriers related to child sexual abuse within the Jewish community generally, and the Orthodox community in particular. Only an independent organisation like Tzedek, with its particular cultural insights, can fully appreciate and seek to overcome these barriers.

Tzedek is the only dedicated Australian prevention and support group for Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse and is independent of established Jewish communal organisations.

By being independent Tzedek:

is able to take a stand and provide services for to prevent child sexual abuse and support victims/survivors who feel betrayed by or do not trust established Jewish institutions; and

is not bound by the potentially multiple stakeholders of existing organisations who may be under pressure to 'tow a particular line'.


Tzedek's principal focus is to prevent child sexual abuse and support Jewish victims/survivors and while Tzedek works in partnership with certain Jewish/non-Jewish institutions, it is not affiliated with any of them.


2. Why does Tzedek use the phrase "victim/survivor"?

The use of the term "survivor" within the Jewish community is generally associated with those Jews who survived the Holocaust during World War Two.

Tzedek uses the phrase "victim/survivor" to balance two points of view. On the one hand there is the concern of some who have been abused regarding the use of the term "survivor", especially when the term is not followed by the phrase "of child sexual abuse". On the other hand there is the desire by others who have been subjected to child sexual abuse to use the word "survivor" instead of "victim," as a means of taking the focus away from what someone else did to them and gave them no choice about, to something positive that they themselves have survived and accomplished.

Tzedek acknowledges the validity of both points of view.

As well as having regard to those points of view, Tzedek also uses the phrase to differentiate between those who currently are victims of child sexual abuse and those who are no longer the subject of such abuse.

3. What is Tzedek doing to educate parents, teachers, friends and the broader Jewish community to enable them to try and protect our children?

Tzedek is committed to educating the Jewish community about how we can protect our children.

Tzedek has already run  well-attended and informative public workshops for the Melbourne Jewish community on parenting safe children, to empower adults to keep children safe from sexual abuse. It is our intention to host these types of workshops regularly. We are also working with Jewish day schools and other communal groups to facilitate workshops with children, parents and teachers on how to keep our children safe from sexual abuse.

Tzedek has also held an inaugural event in NSW with an information evening presented by a psychologist and others on the impact of child sexual abuse in the Jewish community.

We have also reviewed the relevant policies and procedures for a major national communal institution, with the intention to offer this service to other organisations within the Jewish community.

We are also in the process of examining other options for Tzedek to assist all communal institutions who have contact with children.

4. What is Tzedek actually doing in terms of advocating for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse?

Tzedek's primary role is to work closely with victims/survivors and assist them, as appropriate, by developing and providing resources and services in accordance with their respective needs and wishes. Tzedek refers victims/survivors to appropriate counselling services, provides information about the processes and implications of making a police statement and, if the victim/survivor wishes, provides support and assistance in making a police statement.

Since Tzedek Founder and CEO Manny Waks went public with his personal story, dozens of other victims/survivors have come forward. Tzedek is providing an increasing number of Jewish victims/survivors of child sexual abuse with support and understanding, as well as a safe place to explore their options. By providing victims/survivors with support appropriate to their individual needs, Tzedek is minimising the harmful  behaviours associated with sexual abuse.

We have also assembled a high-powered legal team for Tzedek's Royal Commission activities and significant work has already been undertaken, including liaising with victims/survivors regarding how they may choose to be included as part of the submissions made to the Royal Commission by Tzedek. We also work with government, Jewish community institutions, law enforcement and other relevant agencies to address the issue of child sexual abuse within the Jewish community.

 

5. Are there perpetrators of child sexual abuse still living in Jewish community?

In the Jewish community there are people who have had allegations of child sexual abuse made against them who are still free and there are perpetrators who are yet to be uncovered.

There are perpetrators of child sexual abuse living in every community. One way to keep children safe is to change the culture of the community and create more awareness about the dynamics and indicators of child sexual abuse and the grooming process. 

One of Tzedek's primary objectives is to assist organisations developing practice guidelines and provide education programs to respond to the complexities of managing the sexual offender within the community. 


6. Why doesn't Tzedek publish a list of names of those people within the Jewish community who have had allegations of child sexual abuse made against them?

There are legal implications of naming people both before and after they have been charged with an offence. Tzedek must operate within the parameters of the Australian legal system.

We will continue to circulate media reports relating to child sexual abuse as they relate to the Jewish community and will say what we can publicly, having regard to the Australian legal framework and protection of the victims/survivors of child sexual abuse.

7. How many victims/survivors of child sexual abuse are there within the Australian Jewish community?

While nobody knows the exact numbers, studies have found that within the general community, one in three girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused in some way before the age of 16 years.

There is no reason to believe that these statistics are any different within the Jewish community. In fact, the situation may be worse within the Jewish community due in part to the closed nature of our community and the religious segments within it.

Tzedek is currently in contact with around 100 victims/survivors from throughout Australia. Some are victims/survivors within institutions while others are from within families. We know of many more who have not yet been in contact with us and believe there are even more that we are unaware of. Of course we encourage all Jewish Australian victims/survivors to contact us so that we will have a better picture of what has been/is happening within our community.


8. Why does it take so long for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse to disclose their abuse and why do only a small percentage of those victims/survivors seek justice?

The average length of time it takes for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse to come forward is 25 years (it takes men around 10 years longer than it does for women).

In terms of seeking justice through the legal process, only around 10% of victims/survivors go to the police.

The reasons behind this are complex and depend on individual and family circumstances of the victim/survivor. There are many factors that affect a victim's/survivor's decision to disclose and seek justice, including but not in any way limited to:

the attitude of the community within which they live to such matters;
their own feelings about what happened to them, including but not limited to feelings of shame, isolation, not wanting to relive the trauma, fear of stigma as well as lack of support; and/or
the potential impact of such a disclosure on their family.

9. Why have some victims/survivors decided to take the issue of child sexual abuse to the media?

The few victims/survivors, both locally and overseas, who have made the brave decision to talk to the media about the sensitive and complex issue of child sexual abuse in the Jewish community have done so for a variety of individual reasons.

These may include:

They felt that the institutions within the Jewish community had tried to cover up the abuse or protect the abusers, and they believed it was the only way they could protect others and obtain justice for themselves.
As part of their personal healing process. Having been forced to maintain complete silence for many years or decades, speaking publicly about their experiences of being sexually abused as a child may give them a sense of personal empowerment.
By talking to the media about their experiences of child sexual abuse, other victims/survivors realise they are not alone in their experiences, feel a greater sense of acceptance and validation and may feel empowered to seek the assistance they often desperately need. Since Tzedek founder and CEO Manny Waks went public with his personal story of child sexual abuse, dozens of other victims/survivors of child sex abuse in the Jewish community have come forward. Many are receiving, often for the first time, the professional counselling and other services they need. Some have also been able to assist police in building cases against predators in the community.

Open media discussion about child sexual abuse plays an instrumental role in raising awareness and it is often a catalyst for victims/survivors to start feeling comfortable enough to share with others what they had previously carried for years in shame on their own. Often they reach out to people who have lived through similar experiences and are now confronting the issue publicly.

While some claim that public discussion of child sexual abuse may have a negative interim impact on some victims/survivors (i.e. re-traumatising other victims who have "moved on"), the rights of the victims/survivors to publicly share their stories whether through the Royal Commission or other platform must also be respected.

There is also a view that talking to the media about child sexual abuse that has occurred within the Jewish community is "airing our dirty laundry publicly" and brings shame on our community. Not only is this view harmful to many victims/survivors and further compounds their trauma, it is misguided and in itself damaging to the Jewish community.

The inaction of individuals and institutions that were aware of the sexual abuse but did not take action against those who committed terrible crimes against vulnerable children is what has brought shame on our community. It is important to remember that the ongoing silence is what enabled abusers to continue perpetrating crimes with impunity, and thus contributed to the creation of a further generation of victims. Often, in order to move forward, the victims/survivors need the perpetrators to be brought to account.

The walls of shame around child sexual abuse can only come down in a climate where the topic is addressed and discussed without shame, judgement and prejudice. We need to give this topic the dignity and respect it deserves by making it part of public discourse.

10. Does Tzedek offer counselling services?

Tzedek is not a counselling service for victims/survivors of child sexual abuse. However, we will facilitate active referrals to appropriate support services (such as counselling or legal services).

We also offer secondary consultation to individuals and organisations to assist them respond to matters of child sexual abuse. 


 

ABN: 68 722 431 943

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