Can you heal from abuse? What do I do after leaving my narcissist? What does a healthy relationship look like? These concerns cross the minds of over 20 people every minute; over 28,800 people every day. And the sad fact is, we still don’t talk about it enough. Healing from Emotional Abuse isn’t a bandaid situation. But it doesn’t have to take years either. The lives of millions of other survivors around the worlds have been impacted by their narcissist. Yours doesn’t have to. To show you how to live a free, confident and peaceful life, your host and Founder of the Healing From Emotional Abuse Philosophy, Marissa F. Cohen.
Marissa: Welcome back to Healing From Emotional Abuse. A couple months ago, there was a news report that hit the US for about 10 minutes about a gang rape in Israel in Eilat — a small city at the bottom tip of the country, on the Red Sea, which has been compared to Las Vegas-ish. And it didn’t get a ton of media coverage. But apparently in Israel, it opened up the big to do about misogyny and the rape culture of Israel. So, I have the incredible honor of bringing on a friend of mine Tiferet Solomon. She is a bold, amazing Israeli activist who fights for the change in legislation around rape and rape culture. She’ll tell you a little bit more about this. But four years ago, she had a rape attempt, and was able to get herself out of the situation. And we’ll talk more about that in a minute. She has been fighting to change the legislation and policy in regards to rape drug victims in Israel. Thank you so much for being here Tiferet. I’m so excited to talk to you.
Tiferet: It’s my pleasure, Marissa, thank you for inviting me,
Marissa: Of course. So, you had an experience, a rape attempt? Do you want to tell us a little bit about that, because I think that’s kind of, as you said, what put you on the path to doing what you’re doing today?
Tiferet: Right. So, about four years, actually, it’s, it’s four years ago and two months, to be exact. I was given a ride to this guy who I met through a Facebook group. I was going up north for the weekend. And I posted on a Facebook group for rides because it is a very small country. And the farthest distance you can go is about eight hours from one end to the other. So, it’s very common that people will share rides, also they share with the cost and also, you know, it’s nice to have company. So, I wasn’t doing an eight-hour ride, I was doing a two-hour ride. But I posted it on Facebook group, I’m going up north, if anyone wants to join. And there were four people who join me, it was fine, everything was good. And then one of them said, I’d actually love to come back with you on Saturday night, back to Jerusalem. And I was more than happy to do so and we just talked the entire ride on the way back. It was just he and I. It was comfortable. I felt very safe and very listened to. Now, after the fact that I realized that I felt so safe and listened to it because he was listening intently to every single word I said and collecting as much information from me as possible. When we reached Jerusalem, it was like 12:39. I was supposed to go to a friend’s birthday party. It was later so I wasn’t sure if that’s still there or not. And he said, would you like to come up with a bit of refreshments before you go? And I was like, you know what? Sure. 15 minutes, it’s fine. As I mentioned, the car ride seemed comfortable and nice. And it seemed that we were actually really connecting. There was no sexual tension at all whatsoever. I have to like make that clear, because sometimes people go oh, maybe those mixed messages. No, not at all. I was very, very blunt and very clear about the fact that, that was not where I was at all. It was more just, we had a good time talking together. So, we went up to his house, his roommate was gone. I took with him my bottle of water, just in case I wanted to drink something. We went upstairs we were standing in the hallway outside like his bedroom / the kitchen / the bathroom. And he said, Let’s go out for a smoke. And he asked me, wait do you want to drink? And I said No, I’m good. He’s like water, coffee tea. And I was like, holding up the bottle in my hand with like a bit of a weird facing. Yeah, I bought with me. Thanks. I’m good. He’s like, okay, I’ll get the tobacco because then it’s like common that people won’t cigarettes as opposed to buying pre-rolled. And then he started rummaging on his table on his desk table in his bedroom, which was odd because I noticed on the corner, there was the package of tobacco just sitting there. I’m like, Okay, what am I supposed to do while he’s doing this? And then I said, you know, fine, I’ll go use the bathroom. And so, I said, I’m going to go excuse myself. When I came out of the bathroom, he came out from a different room with a different case of tobacco which again, you know, it’s all of these things that you notice after the fact. In advance I didn’t think it was weird because Chainsmokers, thank God I‘m not anymore, but tend to have a lot of tobacco is just lying randomly around the house. So, I really didn’t think too much of it at the time. We went up to 12 pillows for both of us a cigarette, and like a single one, though. And who started talking. Mostly he was talking, I asked, you know what he does for a living. Tell me a little bit more about this project you’re working on. And as he’s talking and smoking, and I noticed, at some point that I lost train of thought he was talking about things that made sense, he was telling me about his book. And I would hand him the cigarette at times, and he would continue talking. And then each time it went down by the time he came to take a puff, and then he’d light it again. But then continue talking, and then come to take a puff. And again, it was out again. He’d light it, and then continue talking. And then he just gives it back to me, he wasn’t really smoking. Again, things you don’t notice in advance only after the fact. And at some point, I noticed, though, that I can’t understand what he’s talking about. Not because the words he’s saying, aren’t words that make sense, but rather, there’s no logical connection between a moment ago, he was telling me about the book he’s writing. And now he’s throwing to me these random words from the field of Political Science and International Relations, which is the field of study that I was majoring in at the time in the university, and I told him about this during the car ride. And he’s just throwing these random, like, you know, it’s because of the Colonialization of the Post-Modern Economic Effects of and like, nothing made sense. But it was words that was supposedly comfortable for me. And I was trying to focus in and listen to what exactly he’s saying and see, okay, maybe I’m just like, not following his train of thought. But once I listened more I realized, yeah, no, there’s no logic here. I’m not even sure how long we’ve been sitting here. And like, everything started feeling very misty. And I said, what time is it? And he didn’t answer you continue talking and was talking is very low, calm, monotonic voice. And I said, I think it’s late and I should go. And he, again, didn’t react, continue talking. He had his train of thought, and he was going with it. And I realized, okay, I feel like I’m losing consciousness. I feel like I’m losing grasp of reality, and like, something was really off. And I was scared that if I stood up and left, maybe he would try to stop me because something wasn’t adding up. And I was starting to recognize, Okay, wait, I was the only one smoking. All of the things were slowly falling into place. So, I slowly got up. And I said, you know, I’m going to go. And he said, what we’re having such a nice time. Don’t want to stay? I was like, No, I’m going to head out. And I started slowly walking towards the door keeping like, half of my body turned towards him, half towards the stairs, because I was scared that if I turned around, he would grab me from behind, or try to stop me in a way that would cause me to trip over myself on the staircase. So, I was walking, consciously, out while slowly trying to create more distance between us without alarming him by running. And he’s like, wait, I have to give you money for the car. I’m like, No it’s really fine. It’s all good. And I like open the door, and walked out. The second I left the door of his house, I ran to my car, which was parked like at the bottom of the street, right around the corner from his building. And I saw him from the corner of my eye running after me. And I ran even faster into the car. I locked the door, started the car and drove away as fast as I possibly could. While I was doing this, I called my mom. And I said, Mom, I’ve been drugged. I’m heading to a safe place where I’m going to call an ambulance and going to go to a hospital. Meet me there. And as I’m talking to her, I feel like I’m losing grip on reality. Like, everything is fading, and everything’s blurry. And like, I can feel how I’m fighting to stay away, stay conscious. While I was really feeling like this heavy cloud coming over me and trying to like, wipe me out completely. And I had to stay with my mom on the phone actually, in order to drive because I thought like if I didn’t talk out loud, I would lose it right then and then what’s in the middle of the street. So, I drove to the side. It was about 500 meters away from his house, maybe a kilometer, and I called an ambulance. Now, I have EMT training in my past. I used to volunteer on an ambulance on a regular basis and, and I know how ambulances are supposed to work. And the ambulance that showed up was horrible. They didn’t want to take me to the hospital. The paramedic who is the highest ranking official in the ambulance, sat down on the side lit a cigarette and started laughing and saying to his friend, Forget it. She’s drunk or crazy. And I’m begging them in tears telling them you don’t understand. I’ve been drugged, and I need to get to the hospital. And they would just, they thought I was insane. Now one of the first things that I always taught people, when I was teaching them how to volunteer and ambulance was, you are the first person that someone in need is going to meet. The most important thing you have to do is be there for them. Imagine how you would want your grandmother to be treated or your parents or you yourself and do that to the patient that you’re meeting. Meaning that you are the first person who is really going to give assistance and, in a time of real dire need. But the way this team acted was so far from it, that I was sure that I concocted in my mind the fact that I actually was able to get out of his house. And I started thinking that I’m actually still at his house, and he’s raping me. But in order to not feel what’s going on, I am playing in my mind a safe scenario that I know from my past as an EMT, that is trying to overcome the trauma that I’m experiencing live. And it’s not really happening. Now, they didn’t want to take me away to the hospital, and this is going on. I ended up like trying to call another ambulance. But there’s only one Ambulance Service really that people use and it’s out. And I told him, I’m here with the ambulance, and they don’t want to take me to the hospital. I need them to take me. And so thankfully, the person at the call center told them, okay, you’re there, you’re with her take her to the hospital. Now, besides this traumatic treatment that I had, from their side, they never once mentioned that there’s a hospital in Jerusalem that actually has a, we call it an Acute Care Center. It’s what it’s used for people who are brought to the hospital with fear of sexual assault of any kind. The staff there also undergoes professional training in how to treat sexual assault victims. But also, they have legal standing, that allows the testimony and the tests and the entire process to actually be acceptable in court, which is a very important thing to note. So, they never mentioned that the hospital that takes care of that is not the one they took me to. Instead, they said, Yeah, we’ll take you to [a different hospital], which is the one I told my mom to meet me at. And that’s also what I was thinking. But I didn’t know that there’s this alternative and how important it was at the time. And again, I’ll remind you, they didn’t want to take me to the hospital to begin with. So, they brought me to the hospital, and the entire call light I was like, holding on for dear life to not lose consciousness. Because again, I was scared that I’m not actually being saved. But rather I’m still being attacked. And I needed to see a face I didn’t recognize before I could let go. And I remember the second they brought me into the ICU, I saw a nurse walking, although I’d never seen him before in my life and that’s it. Everything else went dark. That’s where I lost consciousness. My mom and cousin apparently were there to meet the ambulance team. They got there already beforehand. And my mom acted as my advocate throughout the entire process because I was unconscious for about nine hours. And she told them, we think she’s been drugged. We need blood tests and urine tests. And she said give me the samples, I’ll take them to a private lab. Apparently, that’s not acceptable either. Because in order for it to have legal standing, it has to go through a lab that is recognized. At the beginning, the doctors were skeptical, they didn’t put me in a room to take care or treat me. They rather just left me lying in the hallway with hope that my symptoms would pass because they, too, thought that I was you know, drunk or under different kinds of influence. Yeah, so that’s about what really happened to me during this time, which really caused me to be much more aware of everything that’s going on. There were a lot of mistakes that happened though, also in regards to the way the ambulance conducted itself. As I said, the hospital itself my mom pleaded and begged with them, please give me the test. They didn’t agree. Then they said we will send them to a different hospital, which is the only Hospital in Israel that has a lab that can really check for, like drugs that has legal standing. And they said okay, we’re going to send her blood test and her urine tests to that hospital and follow up with us. Now, there were policemen who came already before I woke up. The second, I gave the call really for an ambulance, the duty is to alert policemen and have them come to the hospital and collect testimony from the victims. They were standing around waiting for me to return to consciousness. My mom gave them my testimony and they said if she wants to come and open a case, then tell her that we already have the complaint filed in and it will be attached to that. And then, after I was released from the hospital, I went immediately to file a complaint, because this is a sad truth, and I think most places, but in Israel it’s know that if you don’t give a complaint within the first 24 hours, the chances of it being treated as seriously go down by about 70%. There are many cases that people come in only later, because of the trauma and fear of dealing with it. And the difficulty of really coming in and giving testimony of whatever case it is. People many times don’t do it immediately. But there have been a lot of cases in which when you actually come within the first 24 hours, it’s treated much more seriously. And it’s given a higher priority. I wouldn’t say top priority, because unfortunately, sexual assault victims aren’t top priority. But it’s given somewhat more of a higher one. And also, that when I gave testimony, they told me, “Okay, we need to get your lab results from the hospital to be able to see which drugs were in your system. That’s going to be a key part of us continuing with looking into your case, and what happened here. And we are going to let you know if there’s any change or development in your case. And it has two years until it’s closed automatically.” But they guaranteed me that I’d get updates. Now I have to say for the policeman’s credit, the person who interrogated me, who I gave my testimony to was very, very calm; very sensitive. I was terrified, because you hear all these stories of policemen or people who take witness that accuse you. Well, how are you acting? What are you wearing? What was the interactive beforehand, and I was happily surprised that my experience was actually a positive one. And he guaranteed me that they’d be in touch with me. Two weeks later, I called the hospital to see if there was any news in regards to my test results. And I found out that they never sent my blood or urine samples to the hospital that can do the more advanced checks. Meaning the hospital that I was in does very, very basic toxin evaluation and blood and urine. They don’t do the more advanced kinds. And they were supposed to send it to this hospital that has a special kind of testing, that also gives it legal standing, and also really has the ability to look for it. And they told me they never did. I call the doctor who was taking care of me and the ICU and I asked if I could have it. And he said what are you talking about? I told them to send it and he was shocked when I told him they didn’t. And then he said one moment, I’m going to check something, wait on the line. And he calls me back and he says, I’m sorry, they didn’t send it. And I said, “Why? You said that we need it. You said that you guys don’t have the ability to at the police told me that we have to have these results in order to do that.” He said, I know. I told them to, they didn’t. I’m sorry, I don’t know why. So, this was heartbreaking. I mean, I was waiting these two weeks when I was already, you know, pretty much ready to give up on life and hardly getting out of bed at four o’clock in the afternoon. I was waiting for these results. And suddenly I find out that they when I was sent. That was the beginning, I guess, of what really got me involved in this. Because my tests will never send, I started looking into it and researching what usually happens. What’s the status of rape drug victims in Israel, and how are they treated. And I found out that many times, the tests aren’t even sent to the hospital that needs to have it. Not every hospital has an Acute Room. As I mentioned. Jerusalem specifically, we have three hospitals here. So actually, like you have a variety and you have a choice to go there if you wanted to. But there are other cities that don’t have a hospital that has an acute room at all. And even the hospital that I was in who doesn’t have the right room to treat me, they were supposed to send my test to the other hospital, which is the only hospital that has the lab to check for these kinds of drugs, and they didn’t. And that’s something that happens in many, many cases. And the more I looked into it, I found out how common unfortunately it is. There was a journalist in it, who wanted to really discuss this matter. And she reached out to me due to a Facebook post that I wrote seven months later in which I wanted to tell the world what happened to me to raise awareness to let people know that it’s not just something you read about in newspapers that happens on the other side of the world, but it’s happening here, and happening to people you know, and it’s happening to an unassuming woman just gave a ride to a guy and thought that you know, we’re talking it’s all good so we can go have a smoke on his roof without anything happening. And that caused:
A) A lot of people to also reach out to tell me stories that happened to them. Not necessarily about rape drugs; about rape, about sexual assault, about the depression that came after. About trying to deal with life. About the post trauma that comes up in dates on interactions. I found that this really opened up a can of worms, where people were sharing with me, I was sharing with others and, and I really found out how, unfortunately common not an assault is because that I already know, unfortunately. But the terrible treatment that the system has towards victims of sexual assault of all kinds. So, through my Facebook posts, I started working on legislation and policy changes. And we had our first somewhat successful policy change in December 2018. Where they released a policy that dictates that the hospitals must treat all victims who show signs of a rape drug, according to a specific process, and really take the test that are relevant, and send it to the relevant labs. Go through everything that’s supposed to, in theory, a wonderful policy. Unfortunately, now we’re finding out that it’s not being implemented as it should. And so now, two years later, I am working on getting the implementation of that policy. But I’m happy to say that in these four years, the policy was written. So that changed, and also hospitals stopped throwing out rape drug kits, which was also a huge, huge achievement that we have worked very hard on, because I couldn’t stand the fact that anyone else would be treated the way I was. So, there’s still a lot more to go. But it’s an uphill battle. Things are changing slowly, slowly. But there’s a lot to do there. And as time goes on, I just see more and more how lacking the system can be. And when it comes to this matter, which I’m sure you know, you come and you’re looking for like that lifeline to save you and help you and protect you. And having the system turn their back on you is horrible. And it can be even worse than not trying to get help at all. So, I’m working to change that.
Marissa: You brought up so many good points. Thank you, first and foremost for sharing your story. Because it is heartbreaking. When your first line of defense, looks at you laughs and pulls out a cigarette because they just don’t care or they don’t believe you. I feel like that’s even more horrifying than being told we don’t believe you. Because in that person’s behavior in the paramedic’s behavior, they basically shut you down and didn’t even have the Kahunas right, like they didn’t even have the guts to tell you, you we don’t believe you. There’s like, Oh, she’s drunk, let’s just this is break time for us now. And that’s so disheartening, especially when you’re going through something so traumatic, that the first person you meet that’s supposed to help you just doesn’t care, and then to be continuously shot down by every person you come into contact with. I mean, man, you are, you’re a tough cookie, I am so inspired by you. So, thank you for doing what you’re doing and changing the legislation.
Tiferet: Thank you. I appreciate that. And thank you for what you’re doing. Spreading the word is definitely, without a doubt, very, very important.
Marissa: Thank you very much. But it’s people like you who are doing the real changes. So, thank you. Let’s talk a little bit about rape culture in Israel. So I, in the states, rape culture is a mixed bag, right? Little boys grow up being taught, you’re not allowed to cry, you have to be tough. So that manifests in anger and rage and they don’t know how to reach out, they act aggressively. Not all men I’m not trying to generalize, but basically, rape culture is very widely ignored for children. And it manifests in aggressive, abusive behavior later. What is Israel’s rape culture Like?
Tiferet: Honestly, I think that when you look at rape culture, I wouldn’t necessarily look at the fact that men aren’t necessarily, sorry little boys aren’t necessarily taught to connect to their feelings and express them in a way that they that they feel comfortable with. It’s also the fact that men and young boys are taught the way women interact is fake or they’re playing a game. When you go on a date with someone and she says no, at the beginning when you try to kiss her, that’s just part of the game. Okay, so she’s paying hard to get. I had a guy who told me and this was when I was, I want to say 22 or 23. He was 32, I think. Maybe 31. He told me there isn’t a woman who doesn’t give, there’s a man doesn’t know how to take. Sorry, it’s a rough translation from Hebrew. But the point was, “There’s no such thing as a woman who isn’t willing to sleep with you. It’s a matter of are you a man doesn’t know how to take it.” And I was horrified Because this was four years ago, five years ago. And that was a statement that he saw no problem in saying, and the bigger problem was that it’s a sentence that he’s heard from other people as well. And its other men who feel this way, as well. So, there’s very much that culture of, you know, did you nail her? No, did you get in her pants? Did you play hard to get? And that’s something that’s still very, very present, and very, very common. And I think that’s the bigger problem, where you’re teaching men that they should read the signs that the women are giving in the wrong way. And honestly, I’m not disregarding women’s part in this also. Women are also taught, don’t give in immediately. You can’t sleep with a guy on the first date — that turns you into a tramp. There’s nothing wrong with sleeping with a guy on your first date if you want to, and if he wants to, and if you both are supportive and respectful and connecting and present in the moment. But like, when it comes to the interactions in between men and women, I feel like we’re still teaching these 100-year-old rules of how to do things. And there’s something very, very lacking in, Okay, well, much more developed and connected to our emotions and to complexities of life. And don’t talk with your friends, or you’re with, especially when you see a group of male friends. Don’t talk with your group of male friends about that woman’s ass, or how sexy she is, or the fact that everyone has gotten a piece of him. And that’s something that for some reason isn’t, you know, that I like, and I don’t know, if I’m generalizing here, and I don’t want to, but it’s something very possessive And…
Marissa: It’s aggressive.
Tiferet: And unfortunately, it still is something that you hear on conversations. I think people feel less comfortable about making these comments now in the presence of women, which sometimes they used to do more. But it still might happen between a group of men. You know, in a Facebook group; in a WhatsApp group. I had a friend who told me a few, like two or three years ago that she found that there’s this Facebook group that men post naked women. Have pictures of naked women that are sent to them, whether it’s by their girlfriends, or by one-night stands or that they find online. And it’s disgusting. Whether it’s a woman who sent you a picture of her naked by choice, that’s fine. But then you’re taking it and sharing it with a group of other people who have absolutely no rights to it. And so, there’s something very much in the culture itself, I would say that is a little more than a little problematic. A lot problematic. And then there’s also and this I can’t emphasize enough, the system that doesn’t take care of it as they should. For example, a few days ago, there was a case of a man who attacked his wife and her beat up and stabbed her. He was horrible. And he was really taking out all of his anger and aggression on her in the worst possible way, in front of the one-and-a-half-year-old. And the judge decided that he doesn’t want to release the name of the man, because he doesn’t want to and these are his words, “Hurt his reputation.” Now, this is a man who ruined his own reputation within a couple of hours, by beating up and stabbing his wife in front of his child. And the judge doesn’t want to release his name because he’s trying to protect his reputation?
Marissa: I just had a horrible, a horrible flashback to Brock Turner. Did you guys hear about that case at all?
Tiferet: Yeah, I mean things travel.
Marissa: Yeah. I mean, that sounds like Brock Turner. Oh, well, we don’t want to ruin his life. He already ruined his life when he, you know, stabbed his wife. Brock Turner ruined his life when he took an unconscious girl and raped her behind the garbage can. Like that was an action that determines and defines the person’s personality.
Tiferet: Exactly. But for some reason, when it comes to sexual assault, or rape, there’s much more room for temporary insanity. It seems that people don’t like to claim temporary insanity, except for one come to these cases. Then it’s like, “Oh, no, he wasn’t thinking. He was under the influence of alcohol.” Like if he was driving drunk and killed someone you wouldn’t treat it that way. But when it comes to sexual assault or rape, oh, no, you know, it’s understandable. It happens. Sometimes it’s very dismissive. And when the system that is supposed to protect you is dismissive, you can’t really expect other people to act other ways.
Marissa: I’m so glad that you brought that up. When I lived in Israel, I lived in Herzliyya. And we would go to Herzilyya Pituach and go out to, you know, clubs and bars and whatever. And I noticed that guys, like you had mentioned before, we’re so much more willing to come up right behind me put their hands on my waist and pull me into them to dance on me, even if I didn’t know them. And, and when I would try and get away from them or move and be kind of polite about it, there was really no change, right? They’d just pull me back in.
Tiferet: Right. Because you’re playing the game, you’re not supposed to give it immediately.
Marissa: Right. And I didn’t, I mean, coming from America, I didn’t know that. So, I learned very quickly that the only way at least in 2010, the only way to get them off you, was to elbow them really hard in the ribs. And if I didn’t elbow them really hard in the ribs, they would keep pulling me back in. So, I mean, it makes so much sense now that you said it like that, that it’s a game. You know, oh, I’m supposed to pull away because I really want to dance with you, when that’s not truly the case. And that element of consent doesn’t really matter.
Tiferet: Right, for some reason we don’t, and I think this is really a huge lacking, we don’t teach enough respect for — well I think it goes both ways. Men aren’t taught enough respect. When you hear a no, because they’re taught, they’re playing the game. And women aren’t taught enough, don’t play it hard to get. Be straightforward about what you want. There’s nothing wrong with choosing this way or the other way. But be straightforward about it. Don’t play games.
Marissa: Yes, absolutely. So, let’s move on to around 2018. Right, the #MeToo movement happened here. And it spread really fast around the world, right? You guys felt the me to movement by you? Right?
Tiferet: Definitely. Yes, that was global.
Marissa: So, did anything change after 2018?
Tiferet: So actually, speaking of the system that’s supposed to protect you. So, another article that I participated in was, after MeToo got really, really strong. There was this huge social movement that came from Facebook, where people started sharing their MeToo stories, which happened also in the States, I know. And then in Israel, there was also a MeToo — that I was also assaulted or attacked in whatever way once; and then there was also, MeToo — I turned to the system for help, and I was turned away. And then they did a front-page article on one of the Unwind Edits — it’s one of the leading newspapers in Israel. We were a front page spread, they bought six of us to interview about, it was really because of the MeToo, you were attacked, you complained, and then you were turned away. And they did a huge bed of like four or five pages in the weekend newspaper, centerfold, about the six of us who came complained, gave testimony, and then were turned away. And how the system turned their back on us. And that was also a huge thing that MeToo did here, which was positive. And this in the sense of shedding more light on the way the police and the hospitals and the court system acts in regards to sexual assault victims. So, there was also a change in regards to sharing stories of what happened, and also a change in regards to, how was I treated by the system? How did the police treat me? How did hospitals treat me? How did the court system treat me. That started really, I would say, October 2018 and it’s only been getting stronger. And specifically now due to the case in Eilat, it got much stronger? The volume in which people are crying out and sharing their side has risen immensely.
Marissa: So, let’s talk about that. I’m really glad that things are getting better there. Or at least the protocols are tightening up a little bit, so that survivors feel more supported. We’re still fighting that battle here, too. But I feel like we are a little bit further along than Israel might be. I don’t know if that’s rude to say. I didn’t mean it that way.
Tiferet: No, that’s probably fair. I would say that the social awareness has gotten higher. I don’t know that the actual system has gotten much better. But we’re working on that as well. Definitely. We’re working on that.
Marissa: Good, because that’s so important. So, let’s talk about what happened this year. So, this is how I heard it and I could be wrong. So please correct me if I’m wrong. But the story that we were told was that there was a girl in Eilat who was gang raped. And that was it. That’s all we got. So, I don’t know what happened after, as far as her healing. But then it’s telling us that the rape culture in Israel was being overturned. And there was like a lot of people that were painting over misogynistic phrases, and pictures, and statues, or whatever things that were around Israel, that were misogynistic, were being taken down. Is that accurate?
Tiferet: So actually, I didn’t hear this side of taking down things that have to do with Israel. I’m sorry about that. What happened was, and I have to say it was a bit of a mess, because also, here information was released in pieces. And the information at the beginning was vague, to say the least. But it started by there was a gang rape a 16-year-old girl with 30 men and that’s what most people heard. Exactly. Now. That’s what’s going on. And for about a week, that’s what was on the headlines of every single newspaper, and every single news article out there. A 16-year-old girl was raped by 30 men. And then, you know, the next day, they said, “Oh, it wasn’t men, it was some men and some young boys.” And they started trying to understand exactly what’s going on but for about a week, we thought it was really 30 men. And what you saw all over Facebook was people crying out. How is this possible? This is a sign of lacking for us as a people. Culturally, we did something wrong if we reached the point where a 16-year-old girl is in Eilat, and is raped by 30 men. And it was really crying of outrage from every single corner. And then about a week later, it was released, “Oh, it wasn’t 30 men. It was 10 or about 10.” And then that was I mean, as I say, it’s all horrible. It’s all awful. When I say interesting, I don’t mean in the positive way. But then there was a very interesting change, where suddenly you saw some people writing, “Oh, it’s only 10 men. Not that it’s good, but it’s not 30.” And then you saw other people who came out with declarations of, “To you who said, the difference between 30, and the difference between 10 is meaningful, you’re part of the problem.” And that really brought up even, actually, a larger wave of awareness because they said it doesn’t matter if it’s 30 or if it’s 10. It shouldn’t be one to begin with. And, yes, if we’re looking at gang rape in this sense, it’s horrible no matter what. And there were so many cries of outrage. And people really started posting about it. And there were a bunch of different socialites, whether it’s actors, singers, or different relevant social entities, that came up with their own videos saying it was men. This was actually, there were two of them that came out, they are very, very powerful, where they talked about, what you hear as a man in your background. “Now, what does that mean about you as a person? If you actually listen to those people who are telling you, No, did you? Did you nail her? How far did you go? She says, No, then don’t listen, try harder…” Like it was it was very, it was done very, very well and very powerfully. And they said, it’s our responsibility. It’s my responsibility. And these men who are public figures, and very meaningful in the cultural life in Israel, and they came out and said, it’s my job to change this. It’s your job to change this. What’s going on here is something that has to do with us as a people. And it’s a horrible sign of our culture and we have to make the changes on a personal level. So, it was very, very negative and it brought out the very, very positive and fruitful results and how the board reacted to it. Unfortunately, we just had this case a few days ago, where a man stabbed his wife. So…
Marissa: I’ll bet that that’s not the first time that he has been aggressive or violent to her. In fact, I’d bet my life on it. Because stuff like that to pattern that grows and grows. Right? Exactly. This was just the final straw. This was the most recent explosion in a series of explosions. So, I’m looking at an article. It’s from November 2019. So, it’s a little bit old and it’s before all of this social media hype. But it said that, 90% of rape cases in Israel are closed without indictment, and that the numbers of people turning to rape crisis centers for assistance has increased by 40% in the last five years. And it’s saying that the number of calls or complaints filed to rape crisis centers in 2018 was 51,000 And it was 40,000 in 2013. So, do you think, as an Israeli, do you think that is because everything is starting to put itself together and processes and protocols are being put in place or do you think it’s Because it’s happening more?
Tiferet: I think it’s because people feel more supported to share what happened to them. Meaning it’s not necessarily things that are happening more. But rather, cases that in the past weren’t necessarily brought to light, are now being brought to light. So, I have a friend who due to what happened in Eilat, decided that she’s sick and tired of the way things are being dealt with when it comes to sexual assault, and rape in Israel, and she started posting her personal stories. And she said, I’m going to start with the story that most people know about me. That I was raped when I was 14, by someone who was 21 at the time, and she came to the police and complained about it. I guess, nine years later. And the police closed the case, because after researching and looking into the details, they declared that that he didn’t really know that she was under age, and it wasn’t done through malice. And she proves, and then this is something that you bought out through Facebook; she proves how they knew. He knew that she was 14, because she told him specifically in these messages, they met in a chat room. And he had no problem with going out with her when she was 14 and doing what he did. And so that was the first story she told. And then she started sharing other stories that happened to her. About the fact that when she was a teenager she used to babysit for this family. And after a while her parents were going through a divorce. So, she was going through a bit of a hard time personally. And she liked spending time with this couple who she would babysit their children when they were out. At some point she said they started coming home a little bit earlier. And we just started hanging out the three of us. And then at some point, the husband would invite friends over and she started hanging out with this group of our friends. I remind you, she’s 15 at the time babysitting, his children, and he’s around 30 years old. And she said that apparently it started becoming a thing that they would invite her to join when they would hang out as a group of friends. And then she was invited by just one of them to hang out. And they ended up sleeping together. And then she was invited by another and it became this thing that they sort of, sorry for terminology, passing her around. And none of them at any point, thought there was a problem here. That she’s a 15-year-old girl. Now she, as I mentioned, her parents were going through a divorce. It was a hard time. She felt that she was getting attention, and she felt that she was loved. And she said like, on the one hand she didn’t understand really why they’re treating her like an adult fully. But on the other hand, she felt very grown up because they were treating her like an adult. And at some point, one of the wives found out what was going on and had a hissy fit at her husband and caused everything to blow up, thank God. And they stopped doing this. And then she started revealing though all of these other cases. And she has like these nine different stories of men who took advantage of her. One of them who came to pick up a date, and they were in the car alone, and he raped her. Another guy who was her neighbor and she had a mouse in her house and she was scared. So, she asked if she could stay there while the exterminator was supposed to come. And then when his girlfriend was in the shower, he walked over and grabbed her breast. And there’s so many stories that she’s just revealing because she says, I’m sick and tired of the fact that people don’t tell their stories, or people behave this way. And the system keeps turning their back on us. And that’s also something that you see happening more. People feeling socially comfortable to share their stories, because even if the police aren’t fully doing their job, or the court system isn’t fully doing its job, they are getting social support. And this way, the victim from Eilat, a different friend of mine started a fundraiser for her, for legal aid due to this. And they reached their goal of, I think, half a million within 24 hours. And then for this woman who was just stabbed by her husband, a different friend started for her also a fund for legal support, and they reach their goal of a million, I think also within like three days. So, you see social media as much more support and much more being done. And the system… It’s a bureaucratic system. That’s a little difficult to change, but I do, I do believe that it’s slowly going to get better.
Marissa: That’s incredible. Well, you’re making amazing strides and the people who you’re working with and your friends are also doing such incredible things. I mean, thank you guys for your hard work and I know it can’t be easy. You’re basically fighting the Empire. Right? You’re fighting the head honchos, but you guys are doing such incredible work. So, thank you and just keep fighting, you know?
Tiferet: Thank you. Thank you as well. Marissa, you’re helping to also share, and put out the voices and the information. Yes, we’re all doing this together. And it’s our pleasure to try and make the world actually a better place.
Marissa: So, my last question for you, I ask everyone who comes on this show, what advice would you give to survivors who are going through the healing process? Who are trying to get help and break their silence after sexual assault?
Tiferet: Wow, that’s a good one. So, I mean, look, it’s sad to say, but Sexual assault is not a new thing. Or something that like my case of being drugged, that wasn’t the first time something like that happened to me. I mean, the numerous cases throughout all of my years, starting when I was five years old, that I’ve been experiencing things like this. But when something comes, that really breaks you, and kills a piece of your soul, which is completely and totally what I felt, it’s a small achievement, that sort of Wow, you. I remember thinking, at the time, when I was, again, completely and totally depressed, how to getting out of bed or quit my jobs, stopped University, even though I was right in the middle of doing very well. The fact that I got out of bed at four o’clock in the afternoon was like, Wow, look at that. And the fact that a Sunday would come by, oh, a new weekend would arrive, I’d be like, Whoa, I didn’t think like, it’s not even that I didn’t think I would live but, in a way, I didn’t think I would live to see another Sunday. And I really needed something to, to hold on to that was more meaningful than you know, “It’s going to be okay,” because I knew it was going to be okay. And one day I was going to be passive. But I was having trouble seeing how that would ever happen. So, I needed something more feasible. And I, one night, it was like, four o’clock in the morning, which also something that happened. I would spend most of my waking hours at night when the rest of the world was asleep, because then I felt most safe and most peace, somewhat at peace, with a quiet world. So, I wonder my bedroom, and I started writing on the wall, my wish list. And it was my list of the wishes that I want to complete At some point, in order to, I guess, make myself happy. It wasn’t even happy, because be happy was the first thing on the list. So, it wasn’t even be happy. But it was these small goals that I was hoping I could achieve in the next, you know, foreseeable future. And that I felt could help me pull myself out of the hole that I was in. So, you know, it was the first one, as I said, was be happy. And the second one was breathing easily again. And then it also went into other things that were, whether they were they developed due to what I was going to — with eating disorders that went completely and totally out of hand; And so, I had really, as one of my wishes, eat without guilt, or stop throwing up. And I also had things like, be a positive change in society. Not let my own feelings about what people expect of me dictate who I’m going to be. So, there was some really big things there. But there were also little things like, dream Sweet dreams again. And what’s amazing, and still to this day, I love looking at that one. It’s still relevant. And there are times in my life that I looked at it and I said, Wow, I completed it. And there are times that I said, No, I’m not there yet. Even though last time I looked at it, I felt like I completed most of the things I put on that list. But it’s interesting to see how things that were very much relevant then, meet me in a very different place now. And I want to say more positively relevant, because then it was really from a heart place of smile again, or wake up in a good mood. And now it’s a much calmer and more settled place. So, I guess what I would give us as advice is set small goals and large ones, and really aim to achieve them. Whether it’s in a month or in a year. But I found that setting those small goals in a timeframe that is not you know, one day I’ll be happy, but rather much more current day, helps to achieve them succeed.
Marissa: I love that. Oh my gosh. I challenge anybody listening to this episode, to make your own list of things that will make you happy or things that you want to overcome and put it somewhere like on your wall next to your bed or on the mirror in your bathroom, so you can see it every day and rate where you are. Oh my gosh, Tiferet that was incredible. Thank you so much for everything you’re doing and for being here, and supporting survivors all over the world.
Tiferet: Thank you My pleasure.
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