One in four women in the UK will experience domestic violence and abuse during their lifetime. Jewish women are no different, and for 30 years JWA (Jewish Women’s Aid) has been there to help them. Yet it has long been a taboo – people just don’t want to talk about it or acknowledge the problem. This means it’s a hidden problem, and the women and children who need JWA don’t know they exist.
For several years, JWA has been increasing their awareness-raising. Posters in women’s toilets in synagogues and other communal buildings, training Jewish professionals and volunteers, talks, adverts in the Jewish press, education and outreach.
JWA’s nationwide annual campaign every November coincides with the U.N.’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Rabbis are encouraged to write and speak from the pulpit about domestic violence, community groups are invited to support the campaign, put up campaign posters and join public events. Communal leaders have a huge part to play in spreading awareness, so it becomes less hidden and women know where they can turn to for help. There were events in London, Manchester and Leeds, to mark the campaign. The London-based event was awareness-raising at Brent Cross, and many people visited the stand including JLC’s Chief Exec Simon Johnson.
This year’s stark campaign message is: “Face The Truth – Domestic Violence happens in your area”.
Face the Fear: “We shake with fear every time the door handle turns” is what one client said. Too many Jewish women and children live with this fear before they get to JWA. Fear of punching, verbal abuse, humiliation, lack of money, mental torment, isolation, rape, constant belittling, are just some of the abuses that JWA’s clients face.
Face the Facts: “I didn’t tell anyone for 3 years. I thought no-one would believe me”. On average, women are abused 37 times before they tell anyone. JWA explain that domestic violence is rarely one type of abuse, it’s usually a combination of physical, verbal, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse, which worsens over time. So people shouldn’t ignore it or hope for the best when a friend or family member tells them.
Face your Responsibility: “When I called JWA, it was the best thing I ever did. They gave me the strength not to go back to him”. The painstaking work JWA does to help women and children rebuild their lives is unique: highly professional domestic violence support, with understanding of women’s religious and cultural needs. Since last year’s extremely successful campaign, client numbers increased by 50% which is fantastic but means JWA is now desperate for the funds to meet the increased need. JWA relies on the generosity of the Jewish community for over 90% of their funding.
JWA’s support includes a Helpline, Advocacy & Support, Refuge, Counselling, Children’s Worker, Education, Campus Outreach and Training. The 2016 campaign, Face the Truth, highlights how desperately the community need Jewish Women’s Aid.