Experts say children, women belonging to Goel Ratzon’s ‘polygamist cult’ may never recuperate
Law enforcement and welfare officials have begun their attempt to bring ‘polygamist cult’ leader Goel Ratzon to justice, but experts told Ynet Tuesday that the process of rehabilitating the women ‘married’ to him would be a lengthy one.
Many of Ratzon’s ‘wives’ and children have been placed in rehabilitation centers at which specialists work to help them build a new life.
The Israel Association for Child Protection (ELI) founder and director, Dr. Hanita Zimrin, said Ratzon’s children were victims of an emotionally harmful environment.
“This was not a normal family. The children were educated to worship a man and prevented from growing up in a normal environment, and each of their mothers was a victim. They grew up in an environment both emotionally and developmentally harmful,” Zimrin said.
She added that welfare services should have intervened before they did. “Maybe legally there was nothing the welfare system could do, but sometimes you need to act according to moral guidelines,” she said. “Anyone could tell this was an aberration.”
Attorney Inbar Yehezkeli-Blilious, legal consultant for the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ARCCI), called for a legislation canceling the statute of limitations in cases such as Ratzon’s.
Gabi Zohar, a social worker with years of experience caring for cult victims, explained that even the women who are rehabilitated will probably remain emotionally fragile.
“Because of the brainwashing they underwent, they sometimes begin to idealize the past. On one hand this helps soothe the suffering, but on the other it creates an illusion about what they went through, and all of a sudden it doesn’t seem so bad,” he said.
Goel Ratzon: My relations with women based on love, respect: In first media interview from solitary confinement, ‘harem leader’ denies allegations of enslavement, rape. Ynetnews, Feb. 15, 2010