Praise for Gail Abarbanel, who changed the way we treat rape victims


To the editor: I am very pleased that columnist Robin Abcarian featured the work of Gail Abarbanel, who directed the Rape Treatment Center at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center for 50 years.

I was a grant administrator at UCLA in the campus office for research administration when I first became acquainted with her. She was applying for grant funding to support her center’s activities and was unfamiliar with the tedious process of submitting applications through the UCLA campus research office.

As I assisted her, we became acquainted. She generously offered to give me a personal tour of the Rape Treatment Center and discuss how it functions. I have never forgotten how impactful this tour was on forming my understanding of the way rape victims had been treated.

She designed the waiting areas to be comfortable and calming. The traumatized patients are treated with compassion and care.

To me, Gail Abarbanel is heroic.

Susan Waelder, North Hollywood

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To the editor: My heart sang reading Abcarian’s column recognizing Abarbanel’s work as a leader and change agent in the fields of rape and sexual abuse treatment.

I was the first social work assistant she hired in 1974, for Santa Monica Medical Center and the Rape Treatment Center, and I witnessed her passion and determination first hand. I would add only one thing.

Through the years, Abarbanel also directly or indirectly taught and mentored countless social workers, paraprofessionals, social work students and volunteers in the practice and profession she was so dedicated to. This is another way she helped make the world a better place.

While my career ultimately took a different path, Abarbanel’s mentorship influenced and inspired my work, and I will be forever grateful.

Karen Hilfman, Los Angeles