Israeli rape crisis center gets animated in bid to help children

A new video, called ‘Tom’s Secret,’ is meant to help parents spot the signs of sexual abuse

Debra writes for the JTA, and is a former features writer for The Times of Israel.

In the animated video, a little boy named Tom sits on his sofa in a typical American home, ignoring his meddling mother while he plays a game on his smartphone. But after his mom asks Tom if he wants to go over to his friend Zach’s house to play, it becomes clear that something is wrong — Tom has been sexually assaulted by Zach’s older brother, and the secret is tormenting him.

Called “Tom’s Secret,” the video was produced in English by the Israeli Association of Rape Crisis Centers as part of a global project to spread awareness about the sexual abuse of children. Their campaign is catching on, boosted immensely by a Twitter shout-out last month from none other than Mariah Carey. The association hopes to eventually make its video part of educational training for students, social workers and anyone who works with rape crisis victims in the US and beyond.

“We made the video in animation in order to make the problems less scary. It’s a delicate way to handle the issue,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, CEO of the Israeli Association for Rape Crisis Centers. “It’s also meant to be an educational tool — how should a parent behave when he knows something has happened; how he should be with his child, and not blame or accuse him. Our mission was to first spread the video inside Israel, and then across the world.”

The video, which was first produced in Hebrew, has been translated to Russian in addition to English. An Arabic-language version is also in the works. In making the film, Sulitzeanu and her colleagues partnered with Ronit Raphael, a New-York based Israeli beauty magnate who owns the luxury cosmetics chain L.Raphael.

“Not many people and not many businessmen are willing to help us with our important mission,” Sulizteanu says. “We really think it’s amazing.”

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