Today is Jewish Women’s Aid Shabbat – our community’s annual Shabbat to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
This is not an easy topic to bring up but ignoring it is not an option. JWA supports about 150 women experiencing domestic abuse every month and has been providing a wide range of services to Jewish women for nearly 30 years. So there is no doubt that this problem exists in our community, just like any other.
It’s important to be clear about what we do and don’t mean when we say ‘domestic abuse’. Domestic abuse is not having a disagreement; it is not ‘not getting along’ – both of these things can happen in any relationship without it constituting abuse.
Domestic abuse is usually a pattern of behaviour where one partner has more power than the other and uses this imbalance to control, demean and harm them. It might be constant insults or criticism, taking or controlling money, making threats, or using physical violence.
In a close-knit community like ours, it can be difficult to come forward to say that you are in an abusive relationship.
We need to speak out with one voice and say no – it is not acceptable to be abusive to your partner. We all need to take responsibility to make our community one which has zero tolerance for abuse, and is supportive to those who are affected.
Judaism teaches us the importance of chesed – kindness – in the way we relate to each other. We must follow this guiding principle within our relationships at home as well as in public.
To find out more about domestic abuse and what we can do to prevent it in our community, please look out for resources at your Shul, you can also visit the Jewish Women’s Aid website.