Hadassah-University Medical Center in Ein Kerem officially opened Jerusalem's first center for the treatment of sexual abuse and domestic violence on Tuesday, aimed at easing the trauma for victims of rape, sexual assault or related violence during the after-care process.
According to Dr. Sagit Arbel-Alon, director of the new Bat Ami Center, it will provide a discreet central location for victims to receive a wide range of treatments instead of having to visit several different places, including a hospital, police station and social services, immediately after being attacked.
"For [the victim], having to go from place to place was like an additional punishment after the crime," she told The Jerusalem Post Tuesday. "This way he or she will get every kind of treatment in one place."
Created with funding primarily from Hadassah-University Medical Center and the Ministry of Health, but with additional contributions from the Welfare and Social Services Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality, the Bat Ami Center follows two other such facilities in Israel - one at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon and the other at B'nai Zion Hospital in the North.
"Until now men and women who were raped or attacked sexually in the Jerusalem area were forced to go to the center in Wolfson," continued Arbel-Alon, adding that now they would have all the services they needed nearby.
Aimed at victims of all ages, the center will offer emergency medical treatment, including a gynecologist, specially trained nurses and social workers, and provide access to the police and legal authorities.
"Everyone on our team is specially trained," commented Dorit Greenspan, chief social worker and coordinator of the new center. "We have chosen staff that has gone through special training, and they know how to deal sensitively with these victims."
Greenspan, who is also head social worker in charge of women's treatment in the hospital, said the center was a separate suite close to the hospital's emergency room.
"When a victim arrives in the emergency room, they will be immediately sent to the center," she said, explaining that it had a meeting room, a medical room for checkups and an en suite bathroom.
"This is a sensitive subject," Greenspan continued. "The victims are not only hurt physically sometimes, but they are also deeply ashamed of what has happened. They do not want to think about it or remember what they have gone through, and they certainly don't want to be in the main emergency room answering doctors' questions with just a curtain separating them from the next patient."
Both Greenspan and Arbel-Alon said they believed the new center would not only provide rape and sexual assault victims with a more streamlined and sensitive service, but also increase awareness and give people the strength to report such crimes.
"The center has been running [unofficially] since May, and we have already seen a sharp increase in cases," said Arbel-Alon.