The shocking reality of sexual abuse and violence in Israel was the theme of Dr Dvora Bauman’s talk to members and friends of Hadassah Australia during her recent visit.

Dr Bauman is Director of Hadassah’s Bat Ami Center for Victims of Violence and Sexual Abuse as well as a senior obstetrician-gynaecologist at Hadassah Hospital’s Ein Kerem campus.  She was in Australia to present at the World Congress of Paediatric and Adolescent Gynaecology.

She shared stories of survivors of sexual abuse and violence that her team at Bat Ami have treated since the centre was established in 2009. Hadassah Australia recently donated an advanced colposcopy system* to Bat Ami following the visit to Australia in 2018 of Dr Mushira Aboo Dia, a specialist obstetrician and gynaecologist at Hadassah and Bat Ami.

L-R: Debbie Strauch, Eva Rutman, Leon Strauch, Dr Dvora Bauman, Lynda Brest, Yehudis Krasianski

Among the stories that Dr Bauman shared was the experience of a 10-year old girl who arrived with burns from being slammed against an electric heater for rejecting her father’s sexual advances.  Another young teenage girl divulged to the team that she fears she will be killed if she tells anyone about what happens at home.  Parents of a young man who abuses and rapes his sister are torn between horror at the victimisation of their daughter and the utter sadness of the perpetrator being their son.  A sensitive young man is brutally raped and violated by a stronger, older man. These and other victims have one thing in common – they all believe they are to blame for what happened to them.

For more than 45 minutes, Dr Bauman answered difficult questions, shared her wisdom and experience and explained how Bat Ami works to help shift the guilt from the victim to its rightful place, enabling survivors to work through their PTSD with appropriate professional support.

Hadassah’s Bat Ami Center is one of four national centres in Israel treating victims of sexual abuse. In 2018, it treated 175 survivors, of whom 80% were female, the youngest just a few months old and the oldest in her 80s.  The majority are girls in their early to mid-teens.

A huge ‘thank you’ to Eva and Alan Rutman for opening their home to Hadassah Australia and enabling us to host an event where we were able to listen, learn and discuss. Dvora’s talk comes at a time when the community is very sensitive to sexual abuse, seeking models that can be emulated here, and learning to help people overcome, stand up and speak out.

*The colposcope is critically-important to the work of Bat Ami, vastly improving the medical examination procedure required for survivors of rape and violence to securely document forensic evidence should they wish to pursue justice in courts. (Dvora’s message of thanks to our donors can be found here).

An in-depth article on Dvora and Bat Ami appeared in Hadassah Magazine in June this year.