What I Learned From a Convicted Sex Offender

Times of Israel

Guila Benchimol

In light of ex-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos’s remarks suggesting that mature 13-year-old boys and adult men can have consensual relationships, I want to share what I recently learned at the Global Summit on Child Sexual Abuse in the Jewish Community convened by Kol V’Oz. Listening to the male sex offender who was convicted of sexually abusing young boys in his Jewish community gave me pause about the areas we may have neglected to consider in our quest to prevent and address abuse when it arises in our institutions.

— He began by explaining that he was completely clueless as to the damage he had inflicted on his victim. Most people have no idea how victimization affects a person’s life, both in the short and long term. Sexual abuse exacts real life, long-lasting, physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological tolls. Because young perpetrators find this difficult to grasp, he stressed the need to make the impact of the abuse explicit to perpetrators, even if many years have passed since the abuse. Interestingly, Professor. Marci Hamilton suggested that survivors’ stories are not the primary way to reach legislators at this point in history when so many stories have been told in the press. Instead, child sexual abuse must be framed as a quantifiable public health issue to make them pay attention. How, then, should we frame sexual violence in the Jewish community so that people care enough to create systemic and lasting change?

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