“He always apologized, and sometimes he would even cry because of the bruises he'd made on her arms or legs or her back. He would say that he hated what he'd done, but in the next breath tell her she'd deserved it. That if she'd been more careful, it wouldn't have happened. That if she'd been paying attention or hadn't been so stupid, he wouldn't have lost his temper.” ~Nicholas Sparks
October is a month filled with crisp fall air, crunchy new apples and leaves the colors of fire. October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which sadly, few people are actually aware of.
Domestic violence is one of those taboo subjects discussed in hushed and hurried tones; it is something that always happens to “someone else.” You don’t see droves of survivors wearing purple ribbons (the ribbon that signifies domestic violence awareness and prevention), doing 5k runs or organizing campaigns to raise awareness and to educate. Instead, what you hear and see is a roaring, glaring silence, an emptiness that begs the questions, where are the survivors, how have they survived and why are they suffering in silence?
Martin Luther King Jr. said “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” and the same can be said about domestic violence. Every time an act of domestic violence is committed and nothing is said, that act is validated, allowing the abuser and abusers everywhere to get away with their crimes. For this reason, it is time to dispel the myths and taboos surrounding domestic violence and bring an end to the silence.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), one in four women have or will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and nearly three out of four Americans know someone who has been a victim of domestic violence. Women make up 85 percent of those who suffer at the hands of domestic violence, and cultural beliefs have nothing to do with it. Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate by race, income and nationality. It could happen to someone you know. In fact, it could even happen to you.
So what do we do about this? How do we put an end to the silence, reach out to those suffering and help? One of the first things you can do to help is to educate yourself and others. Most people don’t realize that domestic violence refers not just to physical violence but also to emotional, verbal and financial manipulation and abuse.
Get out there and read the research and the articles, stop discussing domestic violence in whispers, get loud about it! Organize discussions, speakers and reading groups at your local library, church or synagogue. Listen with an open mind and open heart the next time someone confides in you about her (or his!) experience with domestic violence. Understand that victims of domestic violence do not “bring it on themselves.” Find the resource centers, the shelters and the hotlines so you can guide others to these resources or so you can use them for yourself.
It’s time to make those purple ribbons and wear them proudly, declaring an end to the silent suffering, declaring the start of a battle to end Domestic Violence.
Domestic violence occurs in the Jewish community at the same rate as in the community at large. The Shalom Bayit (Peace in the Home) program of JF&CS focuses on mobilizing the Jewish community to become involved in ending domestic violence. We provide nonsectarian individual counseling and a support group for those who have been abused. Our focus is to break through the silence about abuse in Jewish homes – to name the violence so those within our own community who are being abused will know they are not alone and resources are available. For information about Shalom Bayit call 770-677-9322 or email@example.com
Please join Shalom Bayit on Sunday, October 28, for a powerful program: TAKING ACTION TO END DOMESTIC VIOLENCE from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Congregation B’nai Torah. The program will feature abuse survivors who have turned their personal stories into inspirational quests for justice. RSVPs are requested - firstname.lastname@example.org.