A New Report by Bizchut: Trauma in Treatment – Sexual Assault and Psychiatric Hospitalization

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This report, presenting a mapping of the central challenges in identifying, diagnosing and providing designated services for victims of sexual assault during psychiatric hospitalization, is a result of unique cooperation between The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel and Bizchut, The Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities.  It is part of a wider project supported by Yedidut Toronto through the Friedberg Foundation and the Rayne Foundation that aims to improve services provided to victims of sexual assault within the framework of the mental health system by working in conjunction with the Ministry of Health.

The aim of the report is to indicate specific needs of victims during psychiatric hospitalization, to describe the current situation and map existing services. It examine models from around the world for dealing with female victims who are hospitalized, looks at the issue of personal safety and instances of sexual assault during psychiatric hospitalization and suggests recommendations relating to services and responses that should be developed in this area in Israel.

The report includes:

  • A mapping of the continuum of special services currently available to victims of sexual assault under the auspices of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Social Affairs including: emergency responses, treatment in the community, hospitalization and rehabilitation options.
  • A discussion of policy and practice during psychiatric hospitalization including early identification of a history of sexual assault during hospital intake, and the use of aggressive practice during hospitalization
  • A discussion of overall policy that defines which to which hospital a person can be admitted, the right to personal safety during hospitalization and the issue of gender separation within wards to increase the safety of female patients
  • A discussion of reporting requirements and investigation of complaints of sexual assault during psychiatric hospitalization – the lack of documentation and reporting of assault during hospitalization, obstructions to self-reporting and the development of a mechanism for self-reporting, receiving complaints and protecting the rights of men and women during hospitalization.

Policy recommendations include:

Adoption of a trauma-informed care model in the psychiatric system in Israel –  The model includes: mapping needs in relation to existing services; developing procedures and practices for early diagnosis of a history of sexual assault at the time of intake to mental health services; comprehensive training for mental health professionals in general and psychiatric staff in particular; gender separation during psychiatric hospitalization to ensure the personal safety of women; development of a mechanism for self-reporting and submitting a complaint about violation of personal safety or human rights during hospitalization; ways of safeguarding and increasing services across the community-hospital-rehabilitation spectrum; and increasing cooperation between various service providers.

Increasing the Accessibility of Special Treatment Appropriate to Women who have Experienced Sexual Assault – dealing with the issue of confidentiality when moving between different elements of the medical system, ensuring national distribution of designated services that can provide a full response; development of alternatives to hospitalization; increasing cooperation between hospitals and multi-disciplinary centers that treat victims of sexual assault; expansion and development of community-based designated services and development of additional ones.

Read the report (in Hebrew) here.