The return of some children to school and easing of the lockdown regulations means one thing for staff at Migdal Emunah. “Hope for those children in abusive homes who can now go back to school,” explains Yehudis Goldsobel, chief executive of the organisation that offers advice, support and education to sexual abuse victims.
At Migdal Emunah, there is no such thing as a typical nine to five day. The independent sexual violence advisors (ISVA) work with men, women and children, all of whom have experienced some form of sexual violence or are close to someone that has. Each client has various needs, so the support the charity offers is tailored to them individually. No one case is the same.
“Our day begins by responding to emails and texts and following up on any outstanding matters with the police and other organisations,” says Kim Woolf, an ISVA at Migdal Emunah.
“We receive new referrals from a range of agencies, so we make contact with them to introduce ourselves, explain our role, discuss our service and arrange an appointment to meet with them.”
As an ISVA, they offer Migdal Emunah’s clients emotional and practical support, information about reporting to the police and the different stages of the criminal justice process.
In the absence of face-to-face meetings, Yehudis Fletcher, the organisation’s ISVA in Manchester, explains: “We have to make the victim feel comfortable during that initial phone conversation, but mostly we are here to provide information and support their choices.
“At Migdal Emunah, we all believe in empowering our clients to make informed choices with their best interests at the centre. All our clients will be provided with all the necessary information to make their decision.”
Woolf adds: “For our older clients the abuse is often historic, but confronting it can be cathartic.”
Other aspects of the role of ISVAs involves the educational training of other organisations and statutory services about the work they do and collaborative projects, to facilitate a cohesive response in the best interest of the clients.
Migdal Emunah offers support groups, individual counselling sessions, family and children’s therapy.
The flood of disclosures during telephone conversations means the charity is keen to get back to one-to-one meetings, but with the attention on charity fundraising dominated by Covid-19, Goldsobel hopes sexual abuse victims will not be forgotten. “Their nightmare will continue long after the rest of us return to a life of normality.”