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“I LIVED BUT I WASN’T ALIVE”: Lessons Learned from the Israeli Independent Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

May 25, 2022

May 25th, 9:00 am – 10:30 am CT (on Zoom)

CEUs available for social work: $15 for 1.5 credit hours

Description of the session:

The Israeli Independent Public Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, leading by the Haruv Institute, was established in 2020 in order to learn from the testimonies of survivors of child sexual abuse, all in the purpose to change and improve policy in Israel. The inquiry’s strategy is based on gathering evidences from survivors of childhood sexual abuse. The inquiry puts the survivors at the center of the discussion and learns from their life experiences and stories. Within less than a year, the inquiry heard and collected testimonies of over 500 men and women who were sexually abused in their childhood and bravely chose to share their stories.

In the current session, three members of the inquiry in Israel will take part and present their experience in participating in the inquiry, two of them are survivors of child sexual abuse and social activists. Major conclusions and findings from the inquiry work will be presented. The session will also include a USA expert in the field of child sexual abuse.


Prof. Carmit Katz, a faculty member at the Bob Shapell School of Social Work at Tel Aviv University and Director of Research at the Haruv Institute in Israel. Prof. Katz is the founder and Director of the Public Inquiry. Prof. Katz has been studying child abuse and neglect for many years, and has been involved in promoting social change for survivors of child abuse and neglect. Prof. Katz won the Inspirational Scientist Award from Tel Aviv University in 2016 and the Bob Shapell Award for Contributing to Social Policy in 2017. She is also the founder and the director of the International Group of Scholars Protecting Children from Maltreatment during Covid-19, the editor-in-chief of the International Journal on Child Maltreatment and associate editor of the journal Child Abuse and Neglect.

Yael Sherer, the Director of the Lobby for the Fight against Sexual Violence; Documentary director and writer; Director of the project “Her Own Street” and former director of the social organization “One out of One”. Yael was sexually abused by her father during childhood. She is a groundbreaking social activist in the field of sexual violence and dedicates her life to changing the public discourse and national policy in the field. She won the “Women Changing the World” award on behalf of the Israeli Parliament, and just recently was appointed by the Government to light a beacon in Israel’s Independence Day national ceremony.

Effi Harow, a public speaker and advocate against the sexual abuse. Effi was born in Los Angeles in 1984 to parents he never met. At one week old he was adopted by a family with four biological children and two adopted kids, who later that year made Aliyah to Israel, to settle in Karnei Shomron, a small community in the West Bank. It was supposed to be a safe place to raise children, but at ages 11-15 Effi was sexually abused by a good friend of his older brother, and later was abused by another adult offender in his neighborhood. He kept his secret and paid the price of silence – he started acting out, engaged in risky behaviors and was expelled from 9 different schools. At age 16 he was referred to Retorno, a center for addiction prevention and treatment, where he finally found the help he needed to reveal and to treat the abuse he suffered. Today Effi is married with 2 kids. He is suffering from post-trauma and experiencing difficulties in maintaining a job. He decided to dedicate his time to telling his story in the effort to raise awareness and prevent child sexual abuse.

Jimmy Widdifield, Jr., MA, is a Program Manager at the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth in Oklahoma City, OK.  He is responsible for ensuring that the more than 35 Freestanding Multidisciplinary Teams comply with Oklahoma statute and administrative code pertaining to MDTs through providing training and technical assistance.  Mr. Widdifield is a Licensed Professional Counselor and trained in evidence-based treatments that address the impact of child maltreatment, adversity, and trauma.  His primary experience is in clinical assessment and treatment of children ages 3-12 and adolescents with problematic (including illegal) sexual behavior.  Mr. Widdifield provides local, national, and international training to multidisciplinary professionals and the general community primarily on the research and treatment of children and adolescents with problematic sexual behavior and, also, LGBTQ+ youth.

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