A Response to Domestic Violence in our Community

Domestic Violence is a thing.  A very real and very scary thing. 

There is a common misconception within the Jewish community that among us there’s no poverty, no mental illness, and no domestic violence. But the stories of men and women in our community fly in the face of this myth. According to
http://www.teendvmonth.org/, the severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence, so it’s our responsibility to stop this epidemic at its source.


February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, and our young people need us not only to help them see the signs of an unhealthy relationship, but also to help them understand how to react appropriately to stress in a relationship.


Domestic Violence is a thing.  A very real and very scary thing. 


Domestic violence and abuse is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person - male or female - through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, income, or other factors. It is important to remember that no victim is to blame.

So what do we do about it as a community? Awareness and acknowledgement is the first step. Domestic violence exists in our community and it can happen to any of us. But we can teach our youth the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship and share resources so that they know the right steps to take to avoid becoming victims. We can refer to the Jewish Family Service resource illuminating the "red lights" and "green lights" of healthy relationships to prevent domestic violence (see jfscinti.org/stopdv). We can raise them to be assertive and confident, to trust their "guts", and not to feel shame in reaching out for help.


Statistics prove that women are particularly vulnerable: Women and girls between the ages 16 to 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence at 3x the national average. 1 in 3 teen girls will experience dating violence in the course of her relationships, yet 81% of parents believe that this type of violence is not an issue or are unsure if it’s an issue. Only 33% of teen victims of intimate partner violence told anyone about the abuse.

As a society we need to raise our boys to become men who approach their relationships with respect and appropriate boundaries. Jackson Katz's MVP model, Mentors in Violence Prevention, teaches male student-athletes to be leaders in speaking out against violence and to be active bystanders. Innovative and best practice approaches such as this should be mandatory training in high schools and college campuses world-wide. By referring our boys to Katz's "Ten Things Men Can Do to Prevent Gender Violence (http://www.jacksonkatz.com/wmcd.html)," we can discuss gender violence openly with them, remind our sons that "no means no", and encourage them to speak out when they witness violence around them. 

Domestic Violence is a thing.  A very real and very scary thing. 

Let's acknowledge its power in our community, and then power back against it by standing up, speaking out, and teaching our youth to do the same. 


For additional resources, please contact Jewish Family Service. For help in an urgent situation, contact the 24-hour Protect Hotline at 888-872-9259.


Beth Schwartz, MSW, LSW
Jewish Family Service Executive Director