What's New? Update – December 9, 2005

I recently received word of resources for male survivors in Israel. Under the umbrella of the Tel Aviv Rape Crisis Center, there are now a general Men’s Hotline and another Hotline for Religious Men. There is no Web site specifically for these services, so I have included a link to the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel on the Resources page. Although I have linked to the English language version, one can click on Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian language versions.

Here is some of the information sent to me by Shalom Atlas, coordinator of the Religious Men’s Hotline:


For the past fifteen years the national Hotline for Sexually Abused Men and Boys has operated as part of the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center. The line was established by the women who run the Center as a response to the number of men who called the women’s hotline seeking support. Although the similarity of the ways men and women react to sexual violence is greater than the difference it was felt that it would be preferable for both callers and volunteers if a separate hotline for men could be set up. The men’s hotline has functioned since then, with specially trained volunteers who attend an intensive course covering aspects of sexual violence, the social situation in which it occurs, issues of masculinity and vulnerability and role-play of the elements of support. Over the years the number of calls to the hotline has increased steadily…It is clear that more and more men and their immediate families and support groups are willing to contend with the secret of sexual abuse and to seek help.

Sexual abuse, like traffic accidents or natural disasters, constitutes a severe traumatic event that can cause extreme stress to anyone. However, sexual violence is often experienced as a trauma that one must undergo alone. The victim feels that society is unable to accept his story and his experience and as a result, in addition to the trauma of the event itself, s/he is left with a feeling of isolation, exclusion and guilt.

As the number of calls to the men’s hotline continues to rise there has been a corresponding rise in the number of religious and haredi men and teens among them, constituting 20% of the total calls in the past year. These calls have been handled by the volunteers currently manning the hotline but it was often felt that the gap between the world and world-view of a haredi caller and a secular volunteer is so great that it might perhaps be preferable for the callers to speak to a volunteer from their own background. It was clear that it would be necessary to invest time in training volunteers to better understand the outlook of the religious caller and at the same time more and more religious callers were asking specifically to speak with a religious volunteer. This made it even more urgent to address the issue of finding and training more religious volunteers.

With this in mind the Crisis Center decided to establish the Religious Men’s Hotline for Men and Teens who Have Suffered Sexual Abuse. The first training course, with ten participants, took place in 2003 and ended just before Rosh Hashanah that year. In addition to the standard curriculum described above, the course focused on study of the world of the religious and haredi victim, based on experience that has accumulated in the general Men’s Hotline and through discussions held by the course facilitators and participants with other professionals and rabbis. The hotline began its operation at the end of November 2003. At the same time the volunteers and facilitators are holding seminars and workshops to increase awareness of sexual abuse in the religious community. In addition to its function as an emergency service to victims, their families and to educators and other professionals the hotline offers one on one meetings, referrals for counseling and therapy, accompaniment to the hospital when necessary and to the police for those who wish to file a complaint and exercise their legal rights. Finally, callers may use the hotline as a conduit to anonymously address a religious question to poskim [religious officials] concerning issues that arise as the result of sexual abuse.

The underlying concept of the hotline is that the victim needs to be helped to regain the sense of security and control that have been taken from him as a result of the abuse. We believe that the victim knows better than anyone the best road to travel toward recovery and we help him to travel that road in a manner that empowers him to retake control of his life. These are the principles that have guided the Crisis Center since its inception, applied in a non-judgmental way that leaves as much control as possible in the hands of the victim.


Sexual violence is an act of power in which the sexual element is an expression of power and control.

Research has shown that one out of all seven men have experienced some form of sexual abuse during their lifetimes (the figure for women is one in three). These findings have been gleaned from epidemiological studies that apply across cultures and societies.

Up to the age of 12 there is no difference in the number of sexual assaults on boys and girls.

The assailant is almost always male – the number of women involved is extremely low and numbers no more than five percent of the cases. [Note: In my communication with Shalom Atlas I questioned this statement in light of the greatly increased number of reports of female abusers. He said that he plans to change this part of the statement. ML]

The number of homosexual assailants is no higher than their number in the general society.

As with sexual assault of women, the assailant is usually known to the victim, is often a family member, teacher, counselor or any individual with whom the victim is in a hierarchical relationship.

Sexual assault against men is most common in situations where there are large aggregates of men in a hierarchical power structure such as prisons, dormitories and the military.

Symptoms that commonly occur shortly after sexual violence include: sleep disturbance; intrusive memories and thoughts; dissociation; flat affect and emotional detachment; social isolation; avoidance of situations that might remind the victim directly or indirectly of the attack; problems in concentration and function; mood-swings; anger and aggression. Among children there will often be severe behavior problems and inappropriate sexual acting out.

Long range symptoms often include: damage to the victims masculine self-image that may lead to over-masculinization; confusion and anxiety concerning sexual identity; sexual dysfunction; further experience of sexual assault (re-victimization); problems with trust; problems in establishing relationships and intimacy; compulsive behavior; substance abuse; eating disorders; depression; suicidal ideation and self attack.



More good news on the international front: I received a copy of the newly released The Survivor’s Guide: To Recovery from Rape or Sexual Abuse by Robert Kelly and Fay Maxted of Rugby R.O.S.A. It is a useful and very readable resource, both as a source of information and a recovery workbook. Thanks and congratulations to Robert, Fay, and everyone else involved in this excellent project. Copies are £15.99 and can be ordered from Rugby R.O.S.A. (see link on Resources page) of from Amazon.co.uk

Interest in the summer workshops in Wiltshire, UK continues to grow. Even in these early days registration is healthy and we look forward to another international group. (To date we have people coming from Norway, Switzerland, New Zealand, USA, and various parts of Great Britain. We expect – and hope – that this trend will continue to grow.) For further information: UK Events

HOPE/Scarborough Survivors received a large grant to expand their services. Look for exciting developments in this part of the UK. Congratulations.

The Male Survivors of Sexual Abuse Trust (MSSAT) based in Christchurch, New Zealand continues to impress. Take a look at their Web site: MSSAT

I had another opportunity to see Martin Moran’s powerful one-man play, “The Tricky Part” at the San Jose Repertory Company in California. It was as moving the second time as the first. Although the play isn’t being performed at the moment, you can still read Martin Moran’s memoir from which it was adapted.

I’ll end this now with a reminder that the holiday season can be a difficult and challenging time for many people – especially for survivors. Please take extra good care of yourself and stay connected to your allies. Happy Holidays!

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