Creating awareness, casting out stigma of domestic violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we are reminded that one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. (Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Despite funding cuts to valuable state programs and resources dedicated to the prevention of domestic violence, JF&CS continues to play a critical role in helping women who are victims of domestic violence.

For decades, JF&CS has reached out to the Jewish and general communities to build awareness of the issue of domestic violence and to encourage abused women to seek counseling and safety. We participate in community-wide domestic violence awareness programming, provide domestic violence counseling in-house and also make referrals to local shelters.

We’ve recently become part of Project Harmony, the Pittsburgh “arm” of the Shalom Task Force (STF), a national program working to raise awareness of abuse and to stamp out the stigma of domestic violence in the Jewish community. Based in Brooklyn, N.Y., Shalom Task Force provides a toll-free, 24-hour hotline (1-888-883-2323) that women can call to get help and referrals to professional services in their areas.

Local women who call the STF hotline will be directed to contact JF&CS where they can confidentially talk to a trained counselor. Project Harmony also works with local rabbis, as Jordan Golin, PsyD, director of clinical and elder care services at Squirrel Hill Psychological Services, discusses in this Jewish Chronicle article.

Another new initiative we told you about this past July reaches out to immigrant women in abusive relationships. JF&CS’s Legal Services for Immigrants & Internationals was recently awarded a grant through the FISA Foundation to further the efforts of its Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Project. Through this grant, JF&CS will provide legal services to a larger number of immigrant women so they can obtain legal permanent resident status; referrals for other services that will help them to escape their abusive situations; and outreach and cultural competency training to community leaders and medical professionals who come into contact with immigrant women.

Spousal or partner abuse is not unique to a particular culture or ethnicity, and it doesn’t discriminate based on socio-economic or marital status. Pittsburgh is no different from other cities across the country. There is no simple solution to stopping the cycle of domestic violence in our communities, but together we can reach vulnerable populations who are facing a crisis.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, please call the Shalom Task Force Hotline at 1-888-883-2323. Or call JF&CS at 412-422-7200 and ask for therapist Bari Benjamin. All calls are confidential. No-cost counseling sessions are available to victims of abuse. No one deserves to be abused. Please let us help you.

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