Tal (10) and Ishai (8) are brothers from northern Israel who recently were brought to the Neve Michael Emergency Crisis Center. We knew from the Welfare Authorities that they had been abused by their father. What we didn’t know was the extent of the abuse. When we asked Ishai how it came about that he had stitches on his forehead, the boy was so afraid his father would get back at him that he lied and said his brother pushed him. But Tal corrected him. “You know it wasn’t me. It was him. He can’t hurt us now…”
The boys’ father, a dangerous alcoholic with a history of violence, was so rough with them that the authorities have prohibited visitation rights. The boys are not allowed to go home and the father can’t go anywhere near his children.
Tal, who has scars on his back and shoulders from all the beatings, says that the drinking turned his father into a monster. Ishai, whose stitches have since been removed and now has a scar on his forehead that may never fade, is just starting to open up about all the bad things their father did to them. Both boys agree that he was uneasy when he was sober and mean when he was drunk. Neither one of them has expressed a desire to go home anytime soon.
Owing to their childhood traumas, the brothers suffer from behavioral problems, short attention spans, learning disorders and low self- esteem. Tal is undergoing animal therapy on Neve Michael’s petting farm, where he is learning to overcome his insecurities by caring for a pet rabbit. Ishai, who has problems articulating, is starting to express how he feels through drawings in our art therapy program. Both boys are doing poorly in school but are adapting slowly. Our professional therapists say Tal and Ishai face long periods of healing and rehabilitation.
The brothers have now been incorporated into a family home, which consists of a married couple and their children who live in the Children’s Village and take in Neve Michael children. For the first time in their lives, Tal and Ishai are experiencing what it’s like to be in a normal household with a warm and loving family atmosphere.
Last week, as they sat around the dinner table with their adoptive parents and the other children, Tal said he’s happy they are in Neve Michael, and Ishai echoed his brother’s sentiment. For the Neve Michael staff, those promising words signify that the boys’ recovery is now underway.