During a groundbreaking seminar held last week on International Women’s Day, the findings of a study revealed some shocking news: Jewish victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships longer than average!
Since Jewish women tend to be highly educated and have more opportunities for a career, I suspect victims are not staying due a lack of funds. I think victims are staying because of fear—fear of the abuser, fear of disgrace, fear of critical reactions, and fear of being blamed for not trying hard enough.
The Jewish community has always placed a high value on family. While that’s a wonderful thing, it can also cause tremendous pressure, leading many to pretend that everything’s fine when clearly it is not.
If a wife is being abused by her husband, she is not at fault! There is no shame in leaving someone who is cruel, mean, and unsafe to live with. If a family can stay intact, that’s obviously preferred, but not if it means sacrificing the mental, physical, and emotional health of those involved.
Instead of shaming others, judging them, and gossiping, we need to express more sensitivity. I won’t pretend that I haven’t engaged in that type of negative behavior, especially the gossip, but it’s not helpful for anyone. Let’s all make an effort to reach out to someone who’s hurting. With victims of abuse, it will often take multiple attempts. Yes, we’re all tired and busy; I get it. It’s hard to find the time, but these ladies deserve our time, our help, and our friendship.
This problem has always flourished because of the secrecy. Talking about it in the open is a big step forward.