By Natalie Mark, JCADA Summer Intern
In 1998, Miss Israel, Linor Abargil, stood on stage crying as she was crowned Miss World. While viewers watched her celebrate on television, Linor was suppressing trauma; six weeks prior to being crowned Miss World, Linor was violently raped in Milan, Italy, by an Egyptian-Israeli travel agent named Uri Shlomo.
Eleven years after her attack, Linor teamed up with director Cecilia Peck to raise awareness about sexual assault by publicizing her rape. In her documentary, Brave Miss World, Linor is seen in a vulnerable light as she is supported by her family and friends. The documentary team has screened the film in numerous locations, including in DC. Last year, AWARE’s parent organization, JCADA, cosponsored a screening at the Washington DC Jewish Community Center. Linor is using the documentary as a platform to encourage victims to share their stories like she did and to shed light on the trauma that survivors of rape experience.
Unfortunately, Linor’s story is not an uncommon one. One in five women will be raped in their lifetime.1 Coping after trauma can be extremely difficult. Victims of sexual assault are six times more likely to suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) than the average person.2 Despite having endured a horrible trauma, Linor is still determined to raise awareness about sexual assault and to support other survivors. Brave Miss World follows Linor as she travels the world, speaking at several conferences and talking one-on-one with fellow survivors. It includes interviews with her family members discussing their reactions to her rape and how they manage to support each other as well as Linor as she recovers.
Linor received her mother’s support immediately after the attack. Her mother, Aliza Abargil, comforted her over the phone, and even called Linor’s boyfriend to find somebody in Italy who could help Linor report the crime to the Italian police. Aliza remained supportive of her daughter throughout the legal proceedings and after Shlomo was convicted and imprisoned in Israel. She was further supportive when Linor decided to revisit her trauma by creating a documentary eleven years after the rape. Linor attributed wanting to become an advocate for rape victims to her mother and her continued support.
Without support, victims may feel powerless, defeated, helpless, and alone. It is important for victims to receive support from others immediately because it not only encourages them to seek help, but it also can make them feel safer. Believing a victim’s story can also help empower a victim and help them understand that what happened was not their fault. RAINN, America’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, provides several ways someone can help support a survivor:
- Listen. Be there. Don’t be judgmental.
- Be patient. Remember, it will take your loved one some time to deal with the crime.
- Help to empower your loved one. Rape and sexual violence are crimes that take away an individual’s power, it is important not to compound this experience by putting pressure on your loved one to do things that he or she is not ready to do yet.3