State grant will help victims of sexual abuse
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State grant will help victims of sexual abuse

Project SARAH (Stop Abusive Relationships At Home), the Clifton-based statewide provider of services for Jewish victims of domestic violence, has won a Competitive Victim Assistance Grant and will use it to develop additional services for survivors of sexual assault.

A training conference on May 7 will be the first event to be funded by the $48,063 grant, which was awarded by the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law and Public Safety.

“What is Your Role in the Case of Suspected Child Abuse in the Jewish Community?” is geared to an invited audience of some 320 New Jersey congregational rabbis from all streams, as well as all day-school principals and heads of guidance. The speakers are to be the directors of Project Aleinu, a day-school-based program of Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles aimed at preventing sexual abuse and dealing with individual victims and perpetrators and their families.

“This cross-denominational conference marks the beginning of expanding our mission to combat the issue of child sexual abuse in the Jewish community,” said Project SARAH director Elke Stein of Teaneck. “As a result of the grant, we were able to move forward in this area.”

While no Jewish victim is turned away from Project SARAH’s programs, its focus is primarily on the Orthodox.

“Those who come from the Orthodox Jewish community require specialized outreach services and community education and treatment that is sensitive to their complex religious and cultural issues,” said Esther East, executive director of Jewish Family Service of Greater Clifton-Passaic.

East said that many domestic-violence victims have also had histories of sexual abuse. “Project SARAH has worked with both male and female survivors of sexual assault and has been called upon to assist communities and rabbis who are dealing with these issues,” she said.

The conference, jointly sponsored by the 12 Jewish Family Service agencies in New Jersey, also will include an opportunity to meet with state legal personnel who become involved in cases of child sexual abuse.

In addition to direct treatment, Project SARAH also offers voluntary anger-management sessions for men; education; community outreach; professional training; and resource development. In 2007, it was part of a pilot project with the NYU Center on Violence and Recovery called Healing Circles. This community-based domestic-violence intervention brought together an affected couple, their children, and a “care community” of family and friends to address verbal, emotional, and physical abuse.

For information, call (973) 777-7638 or e-mail projectsarah.org.

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