powerupmama

Posts Tagged ‘self-defense’

The Bitter Taste of Victory: a Self-Defense Success Story

In Sexual Harrassment on November 28, 2010 at 13:37
A short time ago, El HaLev received a letter from a graduate of one of our 10-hour self-defense program. One night, this young woman went to a bus stop. A young man began to stare at her, moved closer and sat down next to her on the bench. He began by making verbal overtures and then, sexual advances . She resisted verbally. He began touching himself, left and returned. Finally, she called a friend waiting at the next bus stop, who ran over to join her at her stop and the harassment stopped.

“What did I do wrong?” was the underlying question posed by the letter.

This was  my response:

Thank you for your letter. First of all, what a harrowing experience!  We are angered and saddened that you had to experience it at all. And we are very impressed  that you have decided to turn it into a learning experience. We applaud your strength and your wisdom.

First of all, here is a list of several things we can tell from your story that you did right:

  • You trusted your intuition when it told you that something was not right about the situation
  • You tried to put distance between yourself and the man who was worrying you.
  • You saw the situation as one that might require self-defense skills
  • You sat down next to someone else to create safety in numbers
  • You tried to set a verbal boundary
  • You kept reassessing the situation as things changed
  • You called your friend for support and help
  • And, most of all, you never gave up

So, as disturbing as your experience was, you succeeded in keeping an incident that started off as sexual harrassment into what your attcker clearly intended to turn into sexual assault. In short, you won!

Now, let’s take a look at some of the details of your story and discuss a few things that might be helpful to you now and in the future:

1) “The second man started staring at me. I looked away and tried to ignore him”: This is one of those situations that many of us have difficulty with. The question I would ask here is: Did you choose to look like you were ignoring him among other alternatives (like using strong body language, creating a physical barrier, using your voice, etc) because you thought it would work best, or did you choose it because you were worried about embarrassing yourself or hurting his feelings if you choose a more pro-active course of action? The fact is that pretending to ignore someone is a legitimate technique that works some of the time. As it happened here, each time he moved closer and, thereby, tested your boundaries, you were also in a position to test the effectiveness of the technique you were using and perhaps try something else.

2)  “I couldn’t move further over on the bench because another women wearing earphones was sitting there and I didn’t want to bother her“: Since we can now look back and see that having your friend join you was what finally deterred this persistent harasser, we now know something we could only guess back then: waking this Beauty from her slumber, i.e. getting her to remove her earphones and asking her to ally with you, might well have stopped the situation in its tracks. From experience, we can tell you that getting her attention would have been a favor to this young woman, though she might not have appreciated it at the time :-). Her disconnection from the environment sets her up as a prime target for a potential assailant like this one. Perhaps she would have learned the lesson that pretending that nothing is happening around you doesn’t make it so— without having to go through the kind of harassment that you endured here.

3) “I tried to speak to him in the most aggressive voice I could muster but all that came out was: ‘ Stop. Enough. Please, that’s enough.” : First of all, this tactic DID result in him taking his hands off of you and onto himself. So it obviously had some effect. In order increase its effectiveness, there are a couple of things you might consider:

a) If you want to be civilized and say “please”, then you can say “please”. Go right ahead— as long as your tone of voice and body language make it very clear that this is not really a request; it is an order!

b) When issuing an order like this, it helps you to focus and him to comply if you tell him, not just what you want him to STOP doing, but what you want him to do— in this case: “Go away”, “get lost”, “leave me alone”, or anything like that: clear, short and to the point. And be prepared to repeat yourself as many times as it takes for him to understand that he has been caught, his game is over and he might as well go home.

4) “In any case, I know not to wait alone at bus stops if possible— especially not at night.” : Be sure that you learn the right lessons from your experience. There is nothing wrong with your choosing to wait at a bus stop alone at night or at any other time of day. HE was the only one who did anything wrong here. You have the right to be where you wish when you wish. And, as you have demonstrated so well, along with that right goes taking responsibility for your own safety, i.e. paying attention to your environment, listening to your intuition, setting boundaries when you feel you need to, removing yourself from difficult situations when you can and fighting like a tigeress to get away when you can’t. If you do these things, there is no reason to restrict yourself, who you are,what you say, how you dress or where you choose to be. Self-defense training frees us to be who we are, to have our freedom and to stay safe all at the same time.

And one more thing. Be kind and compassionate with yourself. Your nervous system doesn’t care whether or not your struggle became physical; it only knows that it fought a  pitched battle for its survival. The fact that you “won” does not mean that it was not  traumatic.  Talk about what happened. Learn from it. Grow from it.

It may not feel like it right now but yours was a story of self-defense success. We can’t prevent people from acting like idiots. Sometimes we can stop them. In your case, you did more than that; you prevented a physical assault.

We are very, very grateful for whatever part we were able to play in that victory and in your many victories to come.

Why The IDF Must Fight Sexual Harassment

In Sexual Harrassment on June 16, 2010 at 00:52

The Two-Front War----Sexual Harassment in the IDF

OK. We Israelis are used to being harrassed by pretty much every nation in the world.  We’re even used to our Army, one of the most upstanding and moral in the world, being trashed— even, or perhaps, especially, by leaders of nations with atrocious human rights records.

But IDF brothers-in-arms sexually harassing their sisters-in-arms? No, we must never, NEVER make peace with that.  Read the article below. Sexual harrassment complaints in the IDF are at an all-time high, but fewer than half of female soldiers who report being harrassed are willing to file formal complaints.

The fact that the number of complaints is way, way up,  is not all bad. This certainly indicates increased awareness,  but let’s not jump to the conclusion that increased incidence has nothing to do with it. With numbers like these, it almost certainly does.

Moreover, read between the lines and you will see that the way these incidents are being dealt with still leaves a lot to be desired. Female soldiers who report incidents  clearly feel they are putting themselves in harm’s way. On paper, the system encourages reporting and treats sexual harrassment as a criminal offense. But behind the scenes, the system and the female soldiers who serve it share a common agenda. Like the parents in the Bill Cosby comedy routine, they are not so much interested in justice as they are in quiet.

There is a way to get both “quiet” and “justice”. It is called PREVENTION.  And I’m not talking about scolding and lecturing male soldiers, as if scolding 18 year-old boys gets them to change their behavior. I have one at home; I know all about it. And I’m not talking about handing Tear Gas spray out to female soldiers as if it were hairspray. (Tell me, Generals, what other weapons do you have in your arsenal that you hand out to soldiers with no training and no hand-to-hand backup plan? )

Bottom Line: Why aren’t these women receiving empowerment-based self-defense training?

What makes the IDF so special is that it is us. It is a reflection of our society. Can you imagine what kind of society we could foster if we invested in the thousands of young men and women going through compulsary military service so, when they re-enter civilian life, they already know that women will not tolerate sexual harassment? That they will stand up for themselves and call the perpetrators to account for it?

Look at the statistics about working women in Israel. 50% report being sexually harassed in the workplace. 50%!!!! And do you know where most of those women were just before they entered the workforce? That’s right. They were in the military.

How many stories like those below might have turned out differently if these women learned Awareness, Avoidance, Assertiveness, Physical Defense and Recovery skills as part of their Military Service? Two-years of service and they can’t squeeze in 10-hour for a Basic Empowerment-based Self-Defense Course? Come on…

I wrote to Chairman of the Knesset Committee for the Promotion of Women’s Status  Tzipi Hotovely MK (Likud) some time ago asking for a chance to speak with her about this issue. Good thing I didn’t hold my breath waiting to hear back from her.

For her part in the proceedings, MK Hotovely said: “Unfortunately, harassment has not left the world and some men feel entitled. Maybe we should think about an alternative softer track, that will enable us to work around the psychological constraints involved in serving a complaint.”

MK Hotovely, you may be right. Perhaps a “decriminalized” procedure would help. On the other hand, how about removing some of those ‘psychological constaints’ by empowering these women BEFORE incidents occur so they can STOP them? Give them the tools they need to stand up for themselves and for each other! I would expect that you, of all of our nation’s legislators, would be on the frontlines fighting for just that.

#                                                        #                                                          #

Major Increase in Complaints of Sexual Harassment in the IDF

A day of consciousness-raising came to the Knesset: Data presented by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, indicated that over the last two years the number of complaints rose by tens of percentage points . The Immigrant Absorption Committee heard sad stories of immigrant women: “The manager harassed me – and I was dependent on him”

Yael Bernovsky
YNET
June 8, 2010

Translated by Yours Truly

Today, the Knesset held a special day to increase awareness of sexual harassment, and all the committees held hearings on the subject. This came after yesterday’s report on Ynet revealing alarming data, according to which nearly half of working women experience sexual harassment in their workplaces. Additional data published today, indicated that the scope of the phenomenon in the IDF has risen sharply.

According to the data presented by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the Israel Defense Forces in 2009 reported 445 complaints of sexual harassment, compared to 363 in 2008 and 318 in 2007. Most of the reported incidents occurred in the bases, and most involved physical harassment. About 28 percent involved verbal harassment and 13 percent voyeurism. Three-percent of the percentage involved rape or attempted rape. Another one percent of the complaints involved consensual sexual relations.

IDF officials explained that there are two options for dealing with complaints – either an officer checks out the allegations or the Military Police are called in for a criminal investigation. Only 47 percent of female soldiers who complained in 2009 chose to contact the Military Police. Another 12 percent of female soldiers sought help within their units.

According to Brigadier General Gila Kalifi, Women’s Affairs advisor to the Commander-in-Chief of the Army, in 2009 only one false complaint of sexual harassment was discovered. However, she said that “we do not only see the need to commit ourselves to dealing with those who claim sexualharassment. We are also committed that, until proven guilty, the person against whom a complaint is made must be considered innocent.”

“We have already learned that it is important to ask the IDF, not only about military intelligence but, there are more questions to ask, about sexual assault, about suicide… Social issues,” concluded Committee Chairman MK Tzachi Hanegbi. “are part of the experience of life of this organization that must undergo parliamentary supervision. Everyone goes away with the feeling that, on the one hand, there is much to praise in the system, but there is a problem. I hope it is being kept in mind by the IDF, our country’s largest organization, that there must be a greater sense of confidence and understanding that the system will protect those submitting complaints. ”

Former Defense Minister Knesset Member Amir Peretz (Labor) added that “our expectation from the IDF is they will become one of the most important models for other workplaces to emulate . Israeli society makes judgments about women who file these kind of complaints. When the this same soldier must return to the same community where she lives, there are serious concerns about this. They must proceed with caution, but they also must develop more tools that allow these matters to be dealt with without placing the woman on the frontlines of the war. Even if the soldier has chosen treatment futher down in the hierarchy, the matter must go higher up in the hierarchy in order to maximize the punishment. The Army must provide security for female soldiers, that no one in the hierarchy, no matter what his rank, has too much authority. ”

“Didn’t they teach you in Ethiopia not say “no” to a man?”

The Absorption Committee headed by MK Lia Shemtov held a discussion of sexual harassment in the workplace that included presentations by women victimized by the phenomenon.

One of them, an economist that came from Ukraine a few years ago and still learning the language, said that she managed to get work in a clothing warehouse as a folder. “I had to leave work even though it suited me. The reason: my manager’s behavior. For a period of two months, he harassed me, took advantage of his authority, because I was financially dependent on the work. He also attempted to rape me and commit indecent acts. I went to the Rape Crisis Center. I did not want people to know – and this is one of the reasons that I did not go to the police. I’m really depressed because of what happened. ”

Another woman, a 24 year-old Amharic-speaker, went to  the Rape Crisis Center to accompany a friend. She talked about things she was accustomed to living with: “I was out of work and my neighbors were looking for a babysitter. It started with words: “I’m used to white Israelis.”, ” Didn’t you learn in Ethiopia not say ‘no’ to a man?’,’Your chest is the color of mocha’.

The neighbor started to harass me, push himself against me while talking to me. After a month, I left my job. ”

Michal Rosen, the CEO of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, mentioned that the bill for providing compensation for victims of sexual assault drafted by a interdepartmental committee last year and presented to the Welfare Department (details published in Ynet) “still lies in the hands of the Minister. Nothing has been done about it. ”

MK Marina Solodkin concluded: “the former President (Translator’s note: Former President Moshe Katsav whose trial for rape and sexual harassment is being held in extreme secrecy) was a master of sexual harassment. This procedure is very important and it will set a precedent if the judge convicts him. I am optimistic”.

High to Low: Living in The Gaps

In Women's Empowerment on May 6, 2010 at 00:43

Gender On The Ground & in Academics: Gaps Between Theory & Practice

It has been a trying week for those of us concerned with violence in Israel. You can catch a glimpse of some of this past week’s stories below— if you don’t mind being appalled.

On the other hand, there was this conference at Bar Ilan University: The Second Annual Conference on Gender “On the Ground” and in Academia: Gaps Between Theory and Practice”, a well-attended event put on by the “Gender On The Ground” Track of Bar Ilan’s Gender Studies Department. We were thrilled to be invited. You see, we were turned down last year and we were concerned that our snub resulted from objections raised by some feminists, many of whom work in the Rape Crisis field, to seeing self-defense as a pro-woman, anti-violence activity.

For some odd reason, I decided that I was the obvious choice to speak at this conference.  I knew it was an important occasion for which we needed a seasoned instructor, I was flattered to be asked and, besides, I live closer to Bar Ilan University than any of our other instructors.

Needless to say, I was nervous. If stage fright and potential conflict wasn’t enough, we had no idea of what to expect re: the teaching conditions, the size or make-up of the group. All I knew was that I had 45 minutes to do my magic. As I packed up my bag of tricks, not knowing which, if any , I was going to use, I kept saying to myself: “Why do I keep putting myself through this?”

Miraculously, I found the building and parking in record time. The conference organizers did an incredible job. Things ran like clockwork. The room assigned to us was perfect and in walked more than 50 bright and well-educated women from all different sectors of our society, as open-minded and positive as I could hope. No hecklers.

I introduced myself, El HaLev and our concept of “feminist”(or what I prefer to call “women-centered”) self-defense as defined by Jocelyn A. Hollander an associate professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, in her paper “Resistance To Self-Defense” :

“By feminist self-defense training, I mean classes that focus on sexual violence against women, that teach skills appropriate for women’s bodies, for rapid learning, and for sexual assault situations, and that address gender socialization and other psychological issues that make self-defense challenging for many women. Feminist self-defense classes also teach options rather than prescriptions for responding to assault and focus on prevention and interruption of assault as well as physical self-defense (see Hollander,2004; Telsey, 2001).”

I asked for a show of hands: “How many of you are here because you really need to hit something or someone today?” I got several raised hands and plenty of laughs. “Well, I promise you that we will get to that, but hitting is only one part of learning self-defense— and it is neither the first, nor the most important.”

I explained the Five Stage Model of self-defense: Awareness. Intuition. Assertiveness. Attack and Recovery and said a few words about each. Then, I, fellow self-defense instructor Gali Sagi, and 50+ of our newest “close” female friends began to move. We breathed together and discussed conscious breathing is a self-defense skill. We showed how physical balance supports mental balance and demonstrated different uses for assertive body language. We did a brief Belief Inventory by reading statements and asking the women to move to the “I agree” side of the room or the “I disagree” side of the room. Then, I read them the relevant statistical evidence. That, of course, resulted in a few good shouting matches. Healthy self-expression.

We taught them the Palm Heel Strike, had volunteers come up to strike the X-Ray paper we held and had all the women in the room yell “NO!” along with them. One women come up in high heels, so I showed them how to do a good Foot Stomp and told them the story of the assailant in California who, after his unsuccessful attempt to assault a woman, was identified in the hospital by the stiletto heel still stuck in his instep.

The 45 minutes sped by. When I told the group that we had to stop because our time was up, there was a collective groan.

In closing, I asked them if they could feel the joy and power in the room “This is what a self-defense class is like,” I told them” Filled with the joy and the power of facing our fears and finding our strengths.” I invited them to take El HaLev business cards and to write down their contact information if they were interested in learning more. Many of the women came up and took cards, wrote down contact information, stayed to talk, or greeted me in the hall to say how much they enjoyed the workshop.

I called El HaLev to tell them how well things had gone. They were as excited as I was. That was hours ago and my feet have not yet touched the ground.

And now, at least for a few hours, I can remember why I put myself through things like this.

***

This past week’s headlines included everything from the Rishon L’Zion Oshrenko Family murder trial to another 12 year-old girl, this time from Bat Yam, gang raped (see below), from a child molester in Modiin sent to a Psychiatric Hospital to a 17 year-old beaten to death in Beer Sheva by the step-father of a teenage girl who broke curfew on the night of Lag B’Omer (see below). In the North, there was the Lag B’Omer reveler who allegedly sexually abused a 14 year-old boy during the course of the festivities and the father from the Galil who abused his 2 year-old son to the point of blindness. Tough week.

Police nab girlfriend of teen beaten to death in Beersheba
By YAAKOV LAPPIN
05/05/2010

The 15-year-old girlfriend of a teen beaten to death by her stepfather in Beersheba this week was arrested on Wednesday for providing a false account to police.

Arik Rafaelov, 16, was laid to rest on Tuesday. He was killed after being struck repeatedly by the stepfather. Rafaelov’s brother said the murder victim had been struck with a hammer and kept in stepfather’s home for hours before medical attention was sought, when it was far too late. Police are investigating those claims.

According to some reports, Rafaelov’s girlfriend told police that her stepfather was unarmed during the incident, matching an account given by her stepfather and mother.

Police refused to confirm the reports. “We think her statement to us was false, and the court will have to look into this,” a Negev Police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday. “We cannot discuss the content of her statement,” the spokesman added.

Teens suspected of raping 12-year-old outside school
Police arrest four teenage boys in Bat Yam suspected of raping girl who was involved with one of them over two-year period

Yoav Zitun
Published: 05.03.10, 11:31 / Israel News

Police arrested four teenage boys aged 13-17 from Bat Yam on Monday suspected of raping a 12-year-old girl who was involved with one of them. According to suspicions, the teens repeatedly raped the girl over a period of two years, in public locations including outside their school.

Four suspects were arrested in their homes and were accompanied to the police station by their parents. An additional boy was arrested shortly after. They are all slated to face a remand hearing after being interrogated.

A Swift Kick & A Stiff Sentence: A Lesson In Justice

In self-defense on April 4, 2010 at 01:44

I can’t believe I somehow missed this news story in September but I can’t think of a better time to share it with you than at this Spring Holiday season, filled with renewal and hope for a brighter future.

Please feel free to share it with the people in your life who could use a little reminder: sometimes women and older adults know their worth and their strength. Sometimes bad guys get hit where it hurts. Sometimes judges ignore stupid excuses and throw the book at criminals.

And sometimes, as I have told many an older student, walking sticks (and knees) sure come in handy…

Older Woman Kicks Robber in Testicles, He Will ‘Sit’ For Seven Years

Seven years at hard labor and two years probation. That was the sentence handed down this morning (Sunday) at the Haifa District Court for 30 year-old Haifa-resident Wissam Ahmadat. Ahmadat was convicted of assaulting an elderly man and the robbery of 74-year-old woman in her apartment. During the robbery, he put a pillow over the elderly woman’s face to prevent her from resisting.

YNet: Sept. 13, 2009

Achya Raavad (and translated by Yours Truly)

The defendant admitted carrying out the acts at the end of 2008 and early 2009. The first case for which Ahmadat was convicted involved pushing a senior adult and knocking him off of the bench on which he sat at a pizzeria in the Hadar neighborhood in Haifa.

The second crime occurred early in the morning at a Nordau Street apartment, where a 74-year-old woman lived.  The defendant and a partner entered the apartment through a window and began looking for money and jewelry.

“During the search, the defendant entered the complainant’s bedroom and purposefully put a pillow over her face in order to rob the complainant or facilitate the execution of the robbery, or to facilitate his escape from the apartment after the robbery,” the charge read.
It went on to describe that the woman succeeded in struggling with her attacker, hit him over the head with her walking stick and even kicked him in the testicles. The two robbers eventually left the apartment with a total of NIS 1,000.

“It Was the Good Fortune of This Older Woman To Be Endowed With Resourcefulness and Courage”

During the trial, it became clear that the defendant had dozens of past convictions, and that he had already served five sentences in prisons around the country. He committed the robbery at the pizzeria less than a month after his last release from prison. These activities, as determined by the testing service, were carried out as a result his addiction to drugs.

Judge Oded Gershon ruled that addiction does not constitute a justification for the defendant’s many crimes. “The defendant’s behavior, over the years, shows that he has no regard for the property of others and he also used serious and dangerous methods such as placing a pillow over the face of an elderly woman to facilitate the completion of the robbery … His action could have caused the death of the complainant… She is fortunate to have been endowed with resourcefulness and courage and thus girded with strength, she fought back against the defendant, “said the judge in pronouncing the sentence.

The judge added that we must give harsh sentences that will deter those who attack the elderly.
“The safety and security of those elderly who are helpless and defenseless, especially those who live alone and are considered by criminals like the defendant to be ‘easy prey’, must not be abandoned. It is proper that every criminal should know that potentially, if he raises his hand against an older adult and injures him or his property, he is liable to be punished very severely via imprisonment at hard labor and being behind bars and locked up for a long time. “

Previously, Judge Gershon gave a six-year sentence to the attackers of elderly victim Malka Yariv, who stole her purse and seriously injured her.

Whatever Happened To Freedom AND Responsibility?

In Sexual Assault on March 31, 2010 at 15:28


Here we are smack in the middle of the one-week Passover holiday- Pesach- The Festival of Freedom. In a celebratory mood, I wanted to bring you a self-defense success story and I found one, not only from Israel, mind you, but right from the holy city of Jerusalem (see below).

As I translated the story  from the Hebrew, I was struck by the awesome courage of the intended victim who fought off an armed attacker with her little children sleeping in the next room. I was inspired by the intervention of her neighbors, who identified the assailant and by the police who rushed to the scene.

However, with all due respect to the defense lawyer, what kind of a legal system declares someone “not responsible for their actions” due to being drunk??? How drunk could he have been? He had the foresight to ensure that his intended victim was alone, to put on a stocking mask— not something most men keep in their pockets “just in case”— and bring along a box cutter— what “box” was he planning to open  in his neighbor’s apartment?

The Passover story and freedom. There in the presence of the powerful Pharoah, King of Egypt, stands the shepherd Moses (sounding remarkably like Charlton Heston) quoting God: “Shlach et ami…” Let my people go!”… And that’s where they choose to close the book and have another cup of wine– To Freedom!

But that is only half of the quotation. The quotation is not ” Shlach et ami…”; it is “Shlach et ami v’yavduni.” “Let my people go SO THEY MAY SERVE ME.” Freedom, yes, but for a purpose.  Freedom and responsibility go hand-in- hand. In our society, we allow people to drink. We allow them to drink to excess- even though we all know that the disinhibiting effects of alcohol make us more likely to do stupid, risky and harmful things. It makes sense that we not hold people responsible for what they might do, but rather for what they do.  “I was drunk” might excuse someone for slipping on the stairs and breaking a favorite vase but since when can: “I was drunk” be used to excuse someone for committing a violent crime? You were drunk? And who was responsible for THAT??? And, if someone was in control enough to time his attack,  disguise himself and brings along a weapon, how drunk could he have been???

A deep bow to the 23 year-old Jerusalem mother of two for her heroism, to her neighbors for being what true neighbors should be and to the police for apprehending the suspect and bringing in the evidence to convict him. Let’s hope that our justice system doesn’t let this one get away.

Suspected: He made sure the husband had left, and attempted to rape his neighbor

A Jerusalem Court extended the detention of a resident of the city, who is suspected of entering his neighbor’s apartment at night with a stocking mask and a box cutter, attacking her and trying to rape her.  She shouted, struggled – and fought him off. The suspect’s lawyer argues: “He was drunk”.

YNet

Dec. 8. 2009

Efrat Weiss

The suspected attacker waited for the husband to leave, then went into his neighbor’s apartment with a stocking mask – and tried to rape her at knife point with her two children in the next room. This afternoon (Tuesday) the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the arrest of the city resident arrested last night on suspicion of trying to rape his neighbor. The investigation continues.

A 36-year-old man was arrested as a result of a night time attack on his neighbor, age 23. According to the woman filing the complaint, the suspect entered her apartment at about 10 o’clock at night wearing a stocking mask and carrying a box cutter, attacked her and tried to rape her. She struggled with him and was lightly injured by the knife, for which she required medical treatment. At the end of the struggle, she managed to fight him off, and he fled the apartment without carrying out his plans. During the course of the entire incident, the victim’s two young children – ages nine months and a year and eight months – were in the next room.

Neighbors who heard the screams of the young woman called the police. The police arrived at the scene and began to search for the attacker. The woman could not identify the attacker due to his stocking mask , but neighbors that saw him remove the mask reported him to the police, and he was arrested. During a search conducted in his apartment the knife was also found.

According to Sergeant Major Maya Yosipov, investigator of violent sexual offenses, the suspect confessed this morning and admitted that he planned the attack after the husband left fifteen minutes before, when he realized that his wife was alone at home. In response,  the suspect’s lawyer, Ariel Atari, said: “According to the evidence, my client was drunk that night. Therefore, it is doubtful that he can be held responsible for his actions, even if they occurred.” Said Sergeant Major Yosipov  “The drunkenness argument contradicts the confession, according to which he planned the event, went up to the apartment, found the door open, and entered the apartment wearing a stocking mask and equipped with a knife.”

Same Facts, Different Story

In self-defense on March 5, 2010 at 12:41

Editors chose a photo of a women hiding her face to illustrate a self-defense success

The pic that YNET chose to illustrate this story

A young women fighting back

This is the pic I would have chosen

God bless YNET for their ongoing coverage of local stories in both Hebrew and English. Really.

But, take one look at the picture they selected to illustrate the story below and, what do you see? A women shamed and beaten down. Read the headline and you are filled with fear and dread. Is that really what this story is about?

Very few readers will bother to read all the way through this story. If they did, perhaps they would see what I see: an incredibly brave young woman who fought like a lioness with her body, her voice and finally, her teeth for her life and her dignity. A self-defense success story in the truest sense.

The fact that there are predators in the Human Jungle should come as no surprise. What is really important, and rarely reported as such, is that there are also lions and lionesses who are ready and prepared to stand up against them and defeat them like this young woman did. She is a heroine. And yet, the news media, reflecting back society’s own prejudices, chose to illustrate her as a helpless victim and glossed over her victorious battle by choosing to emphasize that it was the presence of by-passers, not her all-out refusal to become a victim, that drove off her attacker.

And if that was not frustrating enough, how about the fact that this was a stranger attack in which the guy actually jumped out from behind the bushes?Do you have any idea how many times I have reminded  self-defense students that 82% of attackers are known to their victims, and that the chances of a stranger jumping out from behind the bushes is nil?

Well, either I can say so much for statistics… Or I can use them to say that, assuming the Lod Police ever find this guy, there is a good chance that the stranger behind the bushes isn’t so strange to his intended victim after all.

Either way, we can be sure of one thing. This guy will look like he has been in one hell of a fight…and will have the teethmarks to prove it,thanks to one courageous young woman.

Unknown Assailant Attempted To Rape a 16-year-old in Lod and Fled

Police began searching for the suspect who attacked the girl in the Ganei Yaar neighborhood. Passersby heard her screams and managed to drive him off.
Eli Senor
YNET March, 5, 2010
An attempted rape under the cover of darkness.
Last night (Thursday), an anonymous man attacked a girl of 16 in the Ganei Yaar section of Lod and tried to rape her. Passersby heard the screams and drove the suspect off. He managed to escape. Police began searching for him.
The girl came to the city police station accompanied by her father. Her blouse was soaked with blood and her body showed signs of trauma. Details of the investigation indicate that the young woman was passing through a dark path, when an unknown assailant suddenly leaped from between the bushes and attacked her. A physical struggle ensued between the two, culminating when the girl bit the suspect and began to cry out for help.
When the suspect noticed passersby, he left the girl and fled for his life. Police officers from the Lod Police Station came to the scene and conducted searched, but have failed so far to locate the man.

Stepping Up To The Plate

In Sexual Assault on February 10, 2010 at 14:19

Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of instructing in Tel Aviv as part of one of our IMPACT Self-Defense teams. Nothing strange about that. What IS unusual is that IMPACT-Israel is currently running THREE IMPACT courses simultaneously: a women’s course on Sunday mornings in Jerusalem, a Teen course for at-risk teens in Rishon L’Zion and, now, this new evening women’s course  in Tel Aviv.

The good news is, word is getting out about IMPACT. IMPACT is such a powerful  experience for participants and staff alike, and word-of-mouth is the mainstay of our success. Happily, a growing number of our students seem to be coming to us through referrals from therapists who see IMPACT as part of the sexual assault survivor’s process of recovery and reintegration. It is very gratifying to speak with mental health professionals who see us as part of the “treatment team”.

The bad news, of course, is in the headlines. Just take a look at the article below: “Sharp rise in sexual assault; 15% of the victims are younger than 13”. The women who are coming to us are the brave ones, the ones who read the articles, see the news and say to themselves: “I’d better do something about this.” Just by picking up the phone, these women are demonstrating the essence of personal empowerment: Stepping up to the plate.

Perhaps that is the reality of our situation. As martial arts instructors and self-instructors of every stripe, perhaps we can only to reach those who are already strong enough to reach out and grasp the tools we offer. Or perhaps there are ways for us to reach out that could enable us to reach those not quite ready to make the call. To prevent a potential trip to a hospital Sexual Assault Unit. To change the identity of the patient in the ambulance from that of the potential victim to that of the attempted assailant.

In essence, like our students, we too must begin from a place of believing that we can succeed only if we are willing to embody the change we seek.  So please feel free to share your “why-don’t-you-try?”s or “this-has-worked-for us”s. We are listening and, I hope,  courageous enough to step up to the plate.

Sharp rise in sexual assault: 15% of the victims are younger than 13

The Rape Crisis Center at Wolfson Hospital in Holon publicized that, within the last decade, the number of women referring themselves for treatment has risen 600%. “Every year Israel is becoming more dangerous for women”, said the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital and, according to its Director of Social Work Services , “we long ago lost our morality as a society”.

Translation by Jill Shames from the Hebrew article on NRG

Tomer Valmar | 9/2/2010 10:14

The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon has publicized that, in 2009, 360 women came to the Center for treatment, an increase of 600% over the year 2000. Data published by the Center shows that almost a third of the victims are under 18, and that, in most cases, the sexual assault is accompanied by physical violence.

The Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital in Holon was founded in 2000. For eight years, it was the only place in Israel designed for this purpose. In its first year of operation, sixty women came for treatment, which is now handled by six sexual assault survivors.

Data from the Center given to Maariv (an Israeli newspaper), indicated an increase in the number of cases of sexual assault using physical force that required medical intervention and, sometimes, prolonged hospitalization. According to the Director of the Women’s Health & Maternity Unit at the hospital, Prof. Abraham Golan, since the Wolfson Center was the only place offering specialized therapy for victims of sexual assault until two years ago, the data is indicative of a national trend.

“We are talking about a very disturbing picture signifying that, every year, Israeli society is becoming more violent and more dangerous for women,” said Prof Golan. According to the Center’s data, 40% of the attacks, 37% of which were assaults of girls 18-14, occurred on weekends. It also showed that older women are usually attacked at night while girls are attacked mainly in the afternoon hours.

Reaching the hospital within 24 hours

Even the places where the attacks occur vary by age: While girls aged 14-17 are most often attacked in public places like gardens or playgrounds, women aged 18-25 are most likely to be attacked at the home of the attacker. Attacks against older women usually occur in the woman’s own home.

In addition, according to Prof. Golan, there has been a sharp increase in recent years of women being attacked while they are under the influence of alcohol. Women aged 18-25 are the most likely group to be under the influence of alcohol when they are victimized. Doctors at the Center said that, many times, these women arrive at the hospital unconscious, unclothed and with no memory of what happened to them or who attacked them.

Dr. Giulia Barda, the gynecologist in charge of the therapeutic center explains: “In the wake of a sexual assault, it is advisable to get to the hospital within 24 hours, in order to enable us to find evidence of injury and the presence of alcohol and drugs during examination. Similarly, rapid treatment is very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. ‘

The hospital’s Social Work Service Director Sima Oren added: “The feeling is that, as a society, we long ago lost our morality, and that, in most cases, these women are subjected to psychological damage that is very difficult to cure.”

Another Self-Defense Success

In Crime in Israel on February 2, 2010 at 01:59

Don't Touch Billboard

You know me. I can’t resist a good old-fashioned self-defense success story. No glitter. No high-kicking, face mauling kung-fu moves. Just a woman who refused to be manhandled, a couple of kick-ass bystanders and the Boys (& Girls)-in-Blue hauling the perp off to jail.Here’s one I picked up this evening from the Tel-Aviv police blotter. Share it with someone you love.

Chase On Foot Nabs Sex Offender
01/02/2010 10:16:00

At about 17:00 yesterday,  a resident of Bnei Brak, born in 1986, filed a complaint. She reported that, as she crossed the road at the junction of Ben Gurion and Jabotinsky in Ramat Gan, a man touched her on the intimate places on the front of her body and began to flee.  The complainant, assisted by bystanders, chased him down and held him until the police arrived. The suspect,  born in 1980 and a resident of northern Israel, was arrested and was taken this morning to the Municipal Court in Tel Aviv. The investigation will be continued by Merchav Dan* (* The Tev-Aviv police district responsible for Ramat Gan, Bnei Brak and Givataim).

I love a fairytale ending. Don’t you?

At the Crossroads of Jerusalem

In teens on December 11, 2009 at 03:18

My personal assignment in honor of the Circle of Strength’s Volunteer Day was to give an hour-and-a-half self-defense class just off Zion Square at a drop-in center called Crossroads.

Crossroads is a center that serves a subculture of vulnerable teens that have been sidelined.  While many organizations have been established to meet the needs of at-risk teens, one such population is consistently under-served:  the hundreds of Jerusalem’s English-speaking at-risk youth. Poor, isolated and on the streets, they are, nonetheless, stereotyped as being “Affluent Americans” and are, therefore, estranged from the usual governmental rehabilitative frameworks. See the article below for a look into some other problems in the existing youth treatment system.

Any way, The Crossroads Center, established in 2001, is the only organization actively helping Anglo teens find their way through information and referral, recreational activities to keep them away from trouble and danger, psychological care and counseling.

And speaking of finding one’s way, parking in downtown Jerusalem was never easy but what a nightmare the the endless construction on Jerusalem’s infamous light rail has created! Miracle of miracles, I found my way to a parking garage. I walked through Yoel Saloman Street carrying my trusty striking pads, crossed over Jaffa Street, found HaHavatzelet 2 and climbed the three floors to the Center. My assistant, Tova, met me on the stairs.

Our class began with a group of about seven teens, mostly boys, who starting out  sulking because the social workers turned off  “South Park” in honor of my arrival.  By the end, we had about 20 teens in the room who had worked to various degrees on boundary setting, striking and targeting. The teens did what all teens do: testing, interrupting, challenging and generally, making life difficult… But they also learned, challenged each others assumptions and asked insightful questions.

After the class, when I had a few minutes to speak with the staff, they told me that they were impressed by how well the group listened and participated.  The girls in particular  asked them if we could offer more classes. We brainstormed about writing a grant together, trying to get Youth Services to fund a course, looking for a course sponsor with a special interest in helping these kids successfully find their way into safe and healthy adulthood. I don’t know how we’ll do it yet, but, somehow, we’ll find a way. Some things, like these kids, are far too important to leave to chance.

Knesset Discusses 100s of Untreated At-Risk Youth

N. has worked as a prostitute since she was 14. A. accumulated 29 criminal records before the age of 13. There is no room for them in any residential center, not for them nor for hundreds of others due to a lack of of dormitories and staff. A government investigator points his finger at the Welfare Department- and the report on this subject that he prepared was discussed today in the Knesset.

Yael Barnovsky
Ynet News (Hebrew) 09.06.09

N., a 14 year-old girl from the Central Region, fell victim years ago to violence at the hands of her father. At age 13, she got drunk for the first time and was exploited sexually by men much older than she. She received not treatment, and after she was raped by a neighbor, she started using drugs and in order to pay for them, began engaging in prostitution. The court ordered that she be placed in a closed dormitory facility but, the waiting list was too long, so meanwhile, she was placed in an open dormitory from which she regularly flees and continues her work as a prostitute.

A. a boy of 13 form the North, grew up with a violent mother and a father he barely knew, since he is rarely out of prison. Already by 7th grade, he dropped out of school and began wandering the streets. Within a year, 29 police reports were filed against him. A. who is considered a “high-risk youth”, was arrested on suspicion of abusing animals. His imprisonment was extended until the end of proceedings against him. The judge decided that, if he was placed in a closed dormitory facility, he could be released from prison. In this instance also, the answer as to whether he could be accommodated was “no”.

According to statistics from the National Council for The Child, in 2008 there was a 10% drop in the number of youth in treatment under the Youth Shelter Authority of the Welfare Department responsible for dormitory facilities for youth at risk. Since 2002 and until 2007, the number of youth placed in these facilities grew from 1,297 to 1,826- more than 40%. However, in 2008 there were only 1,650, an 11% drop. Do the statistics reflect that there are fewer youth at risk? Unfortunately, the answer is no. The reason is that, as in the examples of N. and A., there is a shortage of space in the dorms and of professional staff— that prevents fast treatment for the youth that need it most.

The Welfare Department Calls This “A Difficult Period”

These statistics were presented today (Tuesday) by the Executive Director of the National Council for the Child Dr. Yitzhak Kedman, in a meeting of the Knesset’s State Review Committee that will discuss the damning findings that arose from the report of the State Comptroller concerning the Youth Shelter Authority.

According to the report, in the 10 government dormitory facilities under the Authority there are 351 spaces and 567 on waiting lists. Of those at least another 98 would have qualified for treatment if all 351 spaces were filled. However, only 253 of the spaces are occupied and a lack of professional staff members prevents the remaining spaces from being filled.

The State Comptroller found that Youth Authority attempts to reach the Welfare Department Management in order to find a solution to the problem of dormitory placement, were not dealt with and that Welfare Department Management failed to cooperate re: the adoption of a multi-year plan that would enable an overall solution to this difficult on-going problem and provide material for dealing with this issue vis-a-vis the Treasury Department.

“If the government was a parent,we would long ago have taken him/her to court for criminal child negligence, failure to fulfill parental responsibilities, defying court orders and false imprisonment,” said Dr. Kedman…

Changing The World

In Children, Sexual Assault on November 21, 2009 at 23:34

The problem with being the purveyors of a product like “self-defense” is that most people think they know what you are offering, but very few really do.  Say “self-defense”, even in Hebrew, and visions of Superman, TV wrestling, ninjas and stun guns dance in their heads. Tell them that your goal in teaching self-defense is societal change…blank stare.

So, when we go out to explain our programs, we don’t talk about “self-defense” and we don’t talk about “changing the world” . When we go out to special schools and afternoon programs for at-risk teens we talk about “violence prevention and life-skills”. When we present ourselves to social workers running programs for seniors, we talk about “self-efficacy and personal security”. When we talk to representatives in the Arab community we talk about ” helping defend the honor of the family”. WE know that the term “self-defense” or, as we sometimes refer to it “holistic self-defense” includes all of these and much, much more. But it doesn’t sell.

Today’s story from the Hebrew press is another self-defense success story… but not the kind your average person would recognize as such. It is the story of a sexual predator immersed in one of the safest places he could possibly be: a religious institution serving disabled children.

According to the report Crimes Against People With Disabilities, 2007 (U.S. Department of Justice, October 2009), based on the  National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), persons with a disability had an age-adjusted rate of rape or sexual assault that was more than twice the rate for persons without a disability.

So, plenty of victims to choose from and here we are, talking about 10-13 year-old autistic boys from religious families. How much safer could a sexual predator be?

What were the odds that one of these boys would have the courage and the ability to tell his parents what was happening to him? What were the odds that these parents would take their son’s horrible allegations seriously enough to approach the school administration and that, when they saw the administration was acting in a way that might protect their son, but would leave the perpetrator free to prey upon others, that they would go to the police? What was the chance that the police would pursue a case that boils down to the word of a few autistic boys against a teacher with no criminal record? Unbelievable!!!

The boy, his parents, the police… heroes every one of them! Why? Because…. What were the odds????

But what if we could change the odds? What if kids could stand up for themselves against adults that abuse them? What if they could tell and be believed? What if parents could report and not be shunned? What if police could pursue these criminals knowing that no one would be afraid to tell the truth?

What if sexual predators had nowhere to hide?

Holistic self-defense. It could change the world.

Suspected: A Rabbi At A Yeshiva for Autistic Boys is Suspected of Sodomy

The heads of the yeshiva, located in Ramot, were interrogated after they chose not to involve the police even though they were aware of the rabbi’s actions. The suspected was arrested after parents of  a student in the yeshiva registered a complaint with the police.

Yossi Eli 20-11-2009

ww.nrg.co.il (translated from the Hebrew)

Turmoil erupted at a yeshiva for autistic children in Ramot.  Last weekend, police arrested a rabbi and teacher at the yeshiva (30) on suspicion of engaging in a series of indecent acts and sodomy against autistic children aged 10-13 learning at the institution over a period of years. The arrest of the rabbi became possible when one of the students complained about the acts to his parents.

The issue became known to the rabbis managing the yeshiva last year when one of the children complained to his parents that the rabbi would touch him and, thus, reach sexual satisfaction. The parent turned to the rabbis, who decided not to go to the police  but, rather, to deal with the issue within the walls of the yeshiva.

The rabbis decided to remove the teacher from the yeshiva and appoint a new one. With that, the parents of the youth who garnered the strength to reveal the incident decided not to let the matter rest. They issued a complaint at the Shafat Police Station, that, then, opened an investigation. In the course of the investigation, the rabbis of the yeshiva were interrogated with the warning that they were suspected of covering-up the incident. They were released shortly thereafter.

“We are talking about reliable young men”

The teacher was arrested and brought for interrogation to the Shafat Police Station. In the course of the investigation, he denied the acts attributed to him and insisted that he had not committed sodomy but, rather, was accustomed to hugging and kissing the children in a fatherly manner. As the investigation continued, in order to check the reliability of the complaints, a psychologist was invited to the institution to speak with the youngsters.

The psychologist testified that these were trustworthy young men and that the police could rely on their testimony.

The police suspect that the teacher was involved in several additional incidents involving other autistic boys that learn at the yeshiva. They intend to interview other boys learning at that same yeshiva.

The teacher was brought to the Municipal Court in the city to extend his detention before Judge Morris Ben Atar who decided to extend his detention for four more days.

The police reported that “the suspect is a resident of one of the settlements close to Modiin Ilit, a normal man with no criminal past, married and the father of five. It is the police’s intention to recommend a indictment against the man.”

The teacher’s attorney, Arnon Eitan, reported in response that “from the beginning we determined that these were old allegations that were dealt with by the “educational institution more than a year ago. And since, the matter ended. Even the present investigation came to the same conclusion.”