נשים שחוו אלימות במשפחה
Women who were victims of domestic violence stand in solidarity
Photo: Sharon Tzur
Illustration of domestic violence

Israel rethinks treatment for domestic abusers

Former abuser, who now acts as councilor for men wishing to change their behavior, says some are doing it solely in order to avoid jail as Welfare Ministry reports rise in violent incidents in 2021

i24NEWS |
Published: 01.23.22, 11:34
Israel is promoting a unique initiative for the treatment of abusers to try to flip the script on how domestic violence is addressed in the country.
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  • Since the COVID pandemic began, domestic violence reports in Israel skyrocketed.
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    מכירים אדם שסובל מאלימות? אל תעמדו מהצד
    מכירים אדם שסובל מאלימות? אל תעמדו מהצד
    Illustration of domestic violence
    (Photo: Shutterstock)
    In 2021, the Welfare Ministry saw a 10 percent increase in calls to its domestic violence hotline.
    This prompted Israel’s government to allocate $50 million in funding towards combating domestic abuse, with part of the money going towards new treatment programs for abusers.
    Igor Kotovsky, a recovering batterer and now guidance counselor, spoke about being arrested 10 years ago for abusing his wife. “I was given two options: go to jail or go through treatment,” he recalled.
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    נשים שחוו אלימות במשפחה
    נשים שחוו אלימות במשפחה
    Women who were victims of domestic violence stand in solidarity
    (Photo: Sharon Tzur)
    For the last decade, Kotovsky has been in therapy designed for men who have a history of domestic violence.
    Today, he serves as a counselor for other batterers, living in Israel’s first government-funded apartment for violent men who are restrained from their families.
    “I grew up seeing abuse. I was raised… in a society where it was believed that a man is better than a woman,” Kotovsky said.
    “After I began treatment, it helped me understand how my behaviors were wrong, and how I have to take responsibility for my actions.”
    Currently, Israel does not require compulsory treatment for batterers.
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    אמיר רז בבית המשפט
    אמיר רז בבית המשפט
    A man faces court after murdering his wife last year
    (Photo: Moti Kimchi)
    While an abuser can seek help from centers for the prevention and treatment of domestic violence, government data shows that only a quarter being treated in these centers are men, with the rest being battered women and children.
    “Most of the time, after men have been reported for being abusive… they become lost and even angrier with the partners they were abusing,” Avri Sutton, a social worker and manager of the First Rehabilitation Apartment for Batterers, said.
    “We don’t want them going back home without the tools to control themselves.”
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