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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Raffi Bilek

Sexual Abuser Exposed

Earlier this week I found out that a therapist I used to work with at a community mental health agency was busted for being sexually involved with (and filming) a 16-year-old boy he was treating. As if that’s not bad enough on its own, this therapist used to do classroom presentations as part of the sexual abuse prevention program I ran in Jewish schools in New Jersey. It boggles the mind to think about someone walking into a classroom to teach kids how to avoid being abused, then walking into his office that night and abused a kid. Wow.

Initially I was thinking that this could be a big blow to the agency’s credibility in offering sexual abuse prevention services – if they can’t even prevent it in their own daled amos… (note: I don’t know whether any abuse actually took place in the agency or with the agency’s clients as opposed to possibly his private clients elsewhere). But then I realized, it can actually be used to their advantage, to wit: there really is no way to spot an abuser a priori – they come in all shapes and sizes, genders, family situations, classes, etc. (Yes, many abusers are well-educated and are married with kids – as this man is.) And sexual abuse education does not suggest otherwise. Rather, it focuses on teaching adults how to spot the behaviors that are suspect (primarily the grooming process, in which an abuser gradually earns trust, provides extra attention to the victim, and introduces sexual content to their interactions), and teaching kids about body ownership (the classic “my body belongs to me”), inappropriate behaviors on the part of adults, and the importance of telling someone should they r”l find themselves in that situation.

Indeed, if I may plug myself, this is why I created a sexual abuse prevention program for Jewish middle schools – after several years of running one for Jewish elementary schools, it was clear that there is need for further education through the early teen years (and even beyond – but one step at a time). So, if you are interested in bringing my program – called Connect with Respect – to a middle school near you, please be in touch. I would love to get this out there and in use so that, B”H, we should see fewer and fewer kids falling prey to abusers.

Check out the video prospectus for Connect with Respect here.

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