Exhibit: Women Who Dared
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What She Said
  Renee Brant
  Child Abuse Expert
  Boston WWD Event 2001
  Born in 1946
  Provides psychiatric therapy to abused children and developed hospital protocol and educational programs on sexual abuse
Biography  up to top

Renee Tankenoff Brant was born in 1946 and raised in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brant's family was involved in a Conservative synagogue, and she was one of the first young women in the community to have a Bat Mitzvah ceremony.

Although her family had strong roots in Minnesota, Brant was restless there and eager to come east for college. At Brandeis, Brant met her husband and became involved in Vietnam War protests and issues of reproductive rights. They also were influenced by Rabbi Al Axelrod, who linked social justice and Jewish values. Brant has returned to Jewish themes of social justice in recent years through her involvement in a congregation that prioritizes social activism.

During her medical training at the University of Chicago and Harvard, Brant became increasingly aware of how women and children are exploited. She was influenced by the burgeoning women's movement and by her own experiences as a female doctor and as a wife and mother. As a resident training in child and adolescent psychiatry and women's health, Brant became an expert on the sexual abuse of children. She went on to develop the hospital's Sexual Abuse Training Team as well as protocols and educational programs for doctors. She was a founding member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children and the first president of the Massachusetts chapter. In addition to her clinical work, Brant served as a consultant and expert witness in legal cases involving child sexual abuse, educating the judge and jury about the impact of abuse on children. She sees her work as a way of supporting the voices of those who can't speak out or who are ignored. Recently, Brant's clinical work has turned to the issue of chronic illness in families.

Brant and her husband have two children and live in Newton, Massachusetts.

What She Said  up to top
An important person along the way was Al Axelrod, the rabbi at Brandeis. Both [myself and my future husband] got pretty close to Al Axelrod, who was a very social activist Jewish rabbi. And then I guess I saw a way of being able to make a connection ...More 
When I was a young child in Saint Paul, Minnesota, the first woman who caught my eye was an exotic woman. She was Jewish, she was Italian ...More 
I think a consciousness of ways in which women and children have been exploited [was important to my work] ...More 
I think you always do [feel conflicts between professional work and family] because you only have a finite amount of time, your children only grow up once ...More 
When I first had the idea of becoming a doctor in the 1960's, I was definitely not fitting in to the expectations of my guidance counselor at my Midwest High School ...More 
I guess for the most part, I feel very lucky in that I've been able to use my gender to my advantage. And I think in part it's because I've been supported by the wave of feminism contemporaneous to my growth and development ...More  Audio available
The turning point really had to do with my involvement not only in clinical aspects, but trying to work at the medical-legal, and doing expert testimony more often in criminal situations ...More 
Brandeis was a political hotbed, and so I got swept along in the tide... There were civil rights marches, there were Vietnam war protests, in the Boston area and in Washington, DC ...More 
[My work] has been such an integral part of my growth and development. I think I've been very lucky that skills that I've had and that knowledge that I've had has been valued ...More 
I enjoy most of all probably the day-to-day rewards of seeing people feel better, grow, cope better, in dealing with whatever is coming their way ...More 
Multimedia  up to top
Photographs Photographs
Audio Clips Audio 
Answer - Women's Movement (Renee Brant)
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How to Cite This Page
For a bibliography: Jewish Women's Archive. "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Renee Brant." <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prtbrant>.

For a footnote: Jewish Women's Archive, "JWA - Women Who Dared - Biography Renee Brant," <http://jwa.org/exhibits/wwd/jsp/bio.jsp?personID=prtbrant>.