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Sexual Abuse

You are not to blame.

One in three girls and one in six boys are sexually abused in North America.

Source: Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 2009

What is it? Sexual abuse can come in the form of sexual contact between a child and an adult, but it may also include using a child for sexual purposes. The abuser is often someone the child knows and the perpetrator intentionally and deliberately develops and exploits their trusting relationship.

Who does it happen to? Childhood sexual abuse can happen to a child in any community, regardless of gender, race, age, religion or socioeconomic background.

How does childhood sexual abuse affect adult well-being? Childhood sexual abuse can have a wide range of ongoing effects lasting into adulthood. Some adult survivors experience few mental health problems, while others experience adverse, long-term effects. Survivors often feel a range of emotions, including fear, lack of trust, confusion, anger, shame and sadness. Every survivor’s story and path to healing is different.

Sexual Abuse: How CHANA Can Help

Justice and healing for survivors.

Through our legal advocacy program, CHANA seeks justice and healing for survivors of childhood sexual abuse. CHANA's legal advocates and attorney provide information and support to those who have experienced sexual abuse, enabling victims to make  informed decisions while navigating the court system. CHANA strives to develop and maintain strong relationships with government agencies, police, prosecutors and child protective services to maximize advocacy on the clients' behalf.

  • Legal services: Discuss the legal process; provide information to help make informed decisions; and pursue civil and criminal legal remedies.
  • Referrals: Make referrals to volunteer attorneys or private attorneys when necessary
  • Court accompaniment: Accompany clients to court proceedings; provide legal guidance; offer support throughout the entire legal process and advocate for the client.
  • Jewish legal process: Work closely with Beit Din, the Jewish arbitration system.

Begin to heal and rebuild lives.

CHANA's trauma-informed counselors help clients understand the  dynamics of childhood sexual abuse and discuss the vast array of feelings associated with it. CHANA's trauma-informed mental health professionals listen and offer helpful tools and skills on ways to manage the difficult emotions, heal from trauma, connect to community resources and move forward with life. All services are confidential and free.

Gain sense of empowerment and hope.

In a safe, nurturing environment, support groups allow participants to learn about the dynamics of childhood sexual abuse, talk through their experiences, and hear stories from others who have experienced abuse in their relationships. Group counseling also provides victims with ample support, not only from peers (other victims) but also from the mental health professional leading the group.

CHANA's groups are led by trauma-informed professionals. CHANA provides a range of support groups  throughout the year.

At CHANA, the role of consultation takes many forms. CHANA is a community resource and works with concerned community members and community organizations to address abuse within their establishment.

CHANA provides services and therapy that meet the many cultural and religious needs of clients. Many members of the local clergy are comfortable calling CHANA to collaborate on handling a sensitive situation within their congregation. We have developed positive working relationships with local schools, camps and community organizations to work together on projects, develop protocols and create a sensitive and intentional plan of action when facing concerns of abuse.

As a program of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore, CHANA understands the needs of the Jewish community across all denominations. CHANA has experience working within the Jewish arbitration process, in addition to the civil court system.

7 Frequent Reactions

There are many ways childhood sexual abuse can affect your well-being. Here are some:

  1. Trust: Abuse may impair your sense that the world is a safe place and your ability to trust others. This may be difficult if you had a close relationship with the abuser.
  2. Self-esteem: You may blame yourself for the abuse, even though it isn’t your fault. You may have a hard time feeling good about yourself or hopeful about your future.
  3. Coping with stress: You may have many negative feelings, which may make it hard to cope with everyday stress.
  4. Impulsivity: You may find yourself acting on urges before recognizing the potential consequences, which can lead to risky activities.
  5. Anger: You may experience angry outbursts or rage.
  6. Dissociation: Your mind “separates” itself from painful events to protect itself. You may have difficulty remembering what happened, feel like the world around you isn’t real or feel like you aren’t connected to your body. It’s a common reaction to pain and fear.
  7. Self-harm: You may harm yourself, but not intend to end your life. It may be a way to cope with difficult thoughts or feelings.

Abuse is Never Okay

Connecting with others who care about and support you as early as possible can help mitigate the negative impact of childhood sexual abuse and help you heal. Unfortunately, many people feel that talking about childhood sexual abuse is taboo. Some survivors are cut off from supports like family, friends and community members when they talk about their experiences. This isolation can make it harder to heal and feel hopeful.

  • You are not alone
  • You are not to blame.
  • You deserve better.

At CHANA, we believe every survivor deserves a chance to heal. CHANA offers prevention, crisis intervention, therapeutic responses, and consultations with individuals, institutions and concerned community members. CHANA provides a community-wide call to action that recognizes and addresses the traumatic effects of abuse on children and adolescents in the Jewish community, and beyond.

At CHANA, we stand with you.

“A little bit of light dispels a lot of darkness”

– Rabbi Schneir Zalman of Liadi

For Help: 410-234-0030

A Jewish Perspective

In Jewish text, there are numerous examples of sexual assault, including rape, as well as childhood sexual trauma. These narratives highlight the reality that sexual violence has existed throughout history, sometimes paralleling cases we see in society today.

The Talmud teaches that anyone who has the ability to correct a situation and is derelict in doing so bears the responsibility for the results. If abuse is not acknowledged, it is tolerated. Standing by while a sin occurs is violation of Jewish law. Abuse happens in our neighborhoods. We cannot stand by.

Here are some Jewish insights into the issue of sexual trauma:

Click for Quick Escape.