The Israeli Society for Sexual Trauma Treatment & Prevention (ISTT) is a multidisciplinary association which operates under the Israeli Medical Association (IMA).
Our goals include raising awareness to medical implications of sexual abuse; developing trauma-informed medical services; training of medical students, residents and healthcare teams; and promoting basic & clinical research in the field of sexual trauma and health implications.
The Israeli Society for Sexual Trauma Treatment & Prevention (ISTT)
The Israeli Society for Sexual Trauma Treatment & Prevention (ISTT) is a multidisciplinary association which operates under the Israeli Medical Association (IMA).
One in 3 women experience a sexual assault in their lifetime. One in 4 women and one in 5 men were victims of childhood sexual abuse (CSA). These phenomena are common in Israel as well. Most sexual abuse occurs in places which are supposedly considered safe, by a known perpetrator and many times, within the family. Sexual abuse survivors struggle with immediate and long-term mental and physical health consequences, including PTSD, Complex PTSD, depression, eating disorders, self-injury, substance abuse, and suicide attempts, as well as chronic pain, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, IBS, high-risk pregnancy ,birth complications, and sexual dysfunction. Moreover, A history of sexual abuse has implications on the medical encounter and was found to be related to increase in health services utilization on the one hand, and a tendency to avoid health services utilization and even health neglect on the other hand. The medical encounter and medical examinations (especially intrusive examinations) may enact the original traumatic experience. Unfortunately, sometimes there is a re-traumatization of sexual abuse survivors in the healthcare system, due to lack of awareness of medical staff to trauma informed care principals.
The ISTT was established in 2019, in order to raise awareness to medical implications of sexual abuse; develop trauma-informed medical services in Israel; promote trauma-informed training of medical students, residents and healthcare teams; and promote basic & clinical research in the field of sexual trauma and health implications.
The Society's Objective
The goals of the Israeli Society for Sexual Trauma Treatment & Prevention (ISTT)
To serve as a professional clinical framework that guides and promotes diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sexual abuse and its medical implications; and to do this by defining professional criteria and publishing clinical guidelines.
To raise awareness of sexual abuse and its health implications, and to promote the training of physicians and teams in the healthcare system in these areas.
To promote the implementation of the subject in all instruction, training and professional examinations of medical students and residents in Israel, in coordination with the IMA’s Scientific Council.
To promote and develop Trauma Informed Care in both the general health system and the mental health system for patients with a history of sexual abuse.
To promote cooperation and the continuum of care for sexual abuse survivors between the healthcare system and other relevant systems, such as the social welfare system, the education system, the police, the judiciary system, NGOs and so on.
To initiate interdisciplinary professional and scientific conferences in the field.
To professionally represent the field of medical treatment of sexual abuse vis-à-vis statutory/regulatory bodies and medical insurers, in coordination with the IMA.
To cultivate connections with overseas organizations engaged in these subjects, and to represent the association’s members in Israel and abroad.
To promote interdisciplinary research on the subject of sexual abuse, with an emphasis on the clinical and applied aspects.
Members of the board
The ISTT Story
Unfortunately, sexual abuse is a vastly widespread phenomenon. One of every three women experiences some form of sexual abuse during their lifetime. One of four women and one of five men were victims of child sexual abuse (CSA). These phenomena are also common in Israel: In a recent survey, 18% of boys and girls of secondary school age reported experiencing sexual abuse (Lev-Wiesel, Eisikovits, 2016). Sexual abuse has broad implications in all areas of life, including extensive implications for both physical and mental health. For example, sexual abuse has been linked to the development of diabetes, chronic pain syndromes, fibromyalgia, high-risk pregnancy and birth complications, sexual dysfunction, digestive problems and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). In the area of mental health, sexual abuse has been found to raise the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD, depression, anxiety, self-harm, drug abuse, eating disorders, dissociative disorders and psychotic disorders; and victims of CSA are up to nine times more likely to attempt suicide. The economic and social impact of these implications are enormous.
The rationale for establishing the ISTT
Until recently, the topic of sexual abuse, despite its extensive health consequences, was not studied at Israel medical schools or during internships in the relevant medical and paramedical professions. There is also insufficient reporting and detection of sexual abuse in the health system, and an acute shortage of therapeutic options designed for women and men who have experienced sexual abuse. In the field of mental health, despite the allocation of dedicated beds, there is a severe shortage of personnel who specialize in treating the psychological effects of sexual abuse, especially in the social and geographic periphery of Israel. There is a need to develop and adapt therapeutic programs, and to develop trauma-informed medical services, for example - delivery rooms oriented toward survivors of sexual abuse.
Dr. Inbal Brenner: Psychiatrist, assistant director of Lev Hasharon Mental Health Medical Center and director of its sexual trauma clinic. Teaches courses on sexual trauma and dissociation at the School of Continuing Medical Education, Sackler Faculty of medicine, Tel Aviv University. Previously founded a unit for treating victims of sexual assault at the Shalvata Hospital and worked as a psychiatric counselor at the Benafsheinu Bayit Cham multidisciplinary center for treating abuse victims in the ultra-Orthodox sector.
Dr. Anna Padoa: An expert gynecologist, head of the Pelvic Floor Service at the Yitzhak Shamir Medical Center (Assaf Harofeh). She Has many years of experience treating survivors of sexual abuse and lectures on this topic to medical professionals in various frameworks. she wrote a chapter on medical issues in treating sexual abuse survivors in Hasod v’Shivro, edited by Zivya Seligman and Zahava Solomon.
The ISTT was established to meet a deficiency we experienced as professionals working in the field. Our forum began to operate informally in 2017. The core group of founders included physicians from different areas of specialization (psychiatry, gynecology, family medicine and pediatrics), as well as paramedical personnel (nursing, psychology, social work, criminology, nutrition, physiotherapy) who treat various aspects of sexual abuse and are committed to this field. As part of the forum’s activity, we initiated the teaching of the subject of sexual abuse and its physical implications to some of the medical schools in Israel. In addition, we presented the subject to the National Council for Women’s Health and initiated a discussion at the Knesset Health and Welfare Committee. We gradually realized that in order to influence the health system, we needed to become a recognized organization that operates under the Israel Medical Association (IMA). We were pleased to receive the final approvals from the IMA to establish the society in 2019. It was an exciting moment for us, because it reflected the IMA’s recognition of the importance and centrality of the painful topic of sexual abuse and its significant implications for the physical and mental health of the survivors.
In early 2019, we received a grant and were chosen as one of the 2019 projects of the Bor’ot incubator of the Briah Fund, which supports projects that promote women’s health. In December 2019, we held the society's founding conference which drew a large audience of some 500 participants. The conference included two keynote speakers: Prof. Stephen Porges, the author of the polyvagal theory, and a video lecture by Prof. Bessel van der Kolk, one of the world’s leading trauma researchers.
Psychiatrist, assistant director of the Lev Hasharon Mental Health Medical Center and director of its multidisciplinary clinic for sexual trauma. She completed a residency in psychiatry at the Shalvata Hospital, where she founded a unit for treating victims of sexual assault, and worked as a psychiatric counselor at the Benafsheinu Bayit Cham multidisciplinary center for treating victims of sexual trauma in the ultra-Orthodox sector. Since 2015, she has coordinated and taught courses on sexual trauma, PTSD and dissociation at Tel Aviv University’s School of Continuing Medical Education, and currently is one of the coordinators of the school’s two-year training integrative program for treating sexual trauma. Her fields of research include: the physical and psychological effects of trauma (in particular, sexual trauma), the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic and pharmacological treatments for post-traumatic stress disorders, attachment and revictimization. She has published a number of articles in this field.
Dr. Anna Padoa . MD– secretary-general of ISTT
Gynecologist, secretary-general of ISTT and one of the society’s founders.
Heads the Pelvic Floor Service at the Obstetrics and Gynecology Division of the Shamir Medical Center (Assad Harofeh).
Born in Verona, Italy and immigrated to Israel in 1988. Completed her medical studies at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine at Tel Aviv University and completed a residency in obstetrics and gynecology at the Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. During her years of medical studies, she volunteered at the Tel Aviv Sexual Assault Crisis Center. While still a medical resident, Dr. Padoa wrote a chapter entitled “Medical Issues in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse” in the book Hasod v’Shivro, edited by Zvia Seligman and Zahava Solomon.
For about a decade, Dr. Padoa has lectured and provided training on “Pregnancy and Birth in Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse.”
In 2007, she did a sub-specialization in urogynecology and pelvic floor rehabilitation. She is a member of the Israeli Society of Urogynecology and Pelvic Floor, and serves on the Education Committee of the International Urogynecologic Association (IUGA), on the Publication Committee of the European Urogynecologic Association (EUGA) and on the board of the European Society for the Study of Interstitial Cystitis (ESSIC).
Dr. Padoa edited the book The Overactive Pelvic Floor, published by Springer (Switzerland) in 2016.
Dr. Padoa specializes in clinical sexology in the framework of the Sexual Rehabilitation Unit at the Sheba Medical Center-Tel HaShomer and at the Reuth Rehabilitation Hospital’s Sexual Therapy and Rehabilitation Clinic.
Dr. Daphna Armon, MD-MSc – treasurer of ISTT
psychiatrist at The Lotem Center for treatment of sexual trauma at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center Ichilov.
Dr. Armon studied psychology and biology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and went on to complete a masters degree in Neurobiology. She completed her medical training and residency at Hadassah Medical Center.
She previously worked as a psychiatrist at the “Saleet” organization that is part of a national assistance program for woman in prostitution.Dr. Armon lectures and leads workshops on the effects of sexual trauma on mental and physical health, and on treating sexual trauma and promotes the implementation of Trauma Informed Care in health organizations.
Undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, with a specialization in women.
Certificate studies in treating victims of sexual trauma, and in management and organizational consulting with a psychoanalytic-systemic approach. She encountered the effects of sexual trauma on women while working at the Levinsky Clinic, Saleet and the ELEM non-profit, where she met trauma victims who had fallen into drug use and prostitution; some were living on the streets. Ben-David Dror recently stepped down from her position as the director of Beit Ela, a hospitalization alternative for sexual trauma victims. With her in-depth familiarity with the world of sexual trauma, she joined ISTT and serves as its director-general.
Dr. Hirschman grew up in Haifa and graduated with honors from the Technion’s Faculty of Medicine. He later studied public administration, law and psychotherapy. After a residency in psychiatry at the Geha Mental Health Center, he worked as a senior physician at the Sheba Medical Center. Dr. Hirschman went on to head a department at the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center, where he created a unit for treating victims of sexual trauma. During this period, he developed a treatment method that enabled sexual trauma victims to receive treatment even in the most severe situations, in a unique and supportive setting. Dr. Hirschman continues to develop methods in this field as the director of the trauma division at Lev Hasharon. He coordinates certificate studies on this subject at Tel Aviv University’s Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Hirschman has been active for decades in the Israeli Psychiatric Association, filling various roles including: secretary-general, chair of the Residency Exam Committee, training and regulation. Dr. Hirschman has headed the Lev Hasharon Mental Health Center since June 2016.
A clinical social worker, now completing her studies in couples and sex therapy. Directs the multidisciplinary Tamar Center for the Treatment of Victims of Sexual Violence in Jerusalem. During the past 15 years, she has treated women, men and teenagers who suffered sexual abuse. She writes and lectures in the field. Oren-Zifman previously worked in the field of out-of-home care for children and teenagers, and published a book on this subject entitled A Strong and Not Painful Hug (Resling Books).
Gynecologist, expert in obstetrics and gynecology.
Manages the Center for Victims of Sexual Assault at Wolfson Hospital.
Was a partner in establishing the first acute care center in Israel, and has served as its director since 2007. The center was established to provide a holistic response, in a single time and place, to women who suffered sexual assault. Dr. Barda-Fischler works in collaboration with the police and deliveries lectures to sex crime investigators on acute abuse. In addition, she works with law enforcement agencies in Israel in the battle against alcohol and drug abuse, and with the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women on raising awareness of the needs of sexual assault victims, with the goal of improving and promoting treatment of victims and reducing the scope of this phenomenon as much as possible.
She received the Outstanding Team award from the Ministry of Health in 2017.
Her vision is to significantly reduce the number of sexual assaults in Israel by developing advanced testing (such as testing hair for drugs) that will serve as evidence and deter assaults, foster a respectful and non-judgmental attitude toward the victims of sexual assault, and thus raise the percentage of victims who turn, without fear, to the centers for acute care to receive an effective initial response.
Expert in psychiatry, deputy director of the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center. He studied medicine at Tel Aviv University, was a resident at Lev Hasharon, headed an open unit at Sha’ar Menashe and a treatment unit for victims of sexual trauma for five years. Dr. Linder is a faculty member at the Technion and a member of the central committee of the Israeli Psychiatry Association.
MSW and psychotherapist.
Operates a private practice, teaches professionals in the field of sexual trauma and lectures in various programs of study in mental health frameworks and academia. She began working in the field of sexual trauma as a volunteer, while still a student, at a support center for victims of sexual assault. Later, she worked as a training coordinator for professionals at the support center. In this framework, Levron initiated and implemented programs of study dedicated to imparting knowledge and expertise to therapists in the community. She promoted needs-based care for different sectors, including the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors, and for treating male victims of sexual assault.
In 2008, she began to work as a therapist at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Lotem Sexual Trauma Center. Soon afterwards, she was recruited to help manage the trauma center, first as deputy director and later as the center’s director. At the Lotem Center, she played a central role in promoting and establishing the dedicated hospitalization unit for treating victims of sexual assault at the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, worked vis-à-vis the National Insurance Institute on securing the rights of sexual trauma victims and collaborated in establishing ambulatory care centers in the social services units. She believes in training and instructing professionals from various disciplines, with the understanding that abuse creates a deep identity crisis and affects all areas of the victim’s life.
MSW, member of ISTT’s Audit Committee.
For many years, he has treated male victims of sexual abuse at the multidisciplinary Tamar Center for the Treatment of Victims of Sexual Violence in Jerusalem. Fried is an adjunct lecturer and researcher of masculinity at Hebrew University’s School of Social Work.