October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and although for those in physically or emotionally abusive and violent relationships, every day is a struggle; this annual national observance gives organizations the opportunity to initiate important conversations about how this issue affects family, friends and our community.
On Wednesday, October 31, JF&CS and NA’AMAT USA, Pittsburgh Council will co-sponsor a Lunch & Learn with the Jewish Domestic Abuse Task Force at the Labor Zionist Educational Center in Squirrel Hill. The Lunch & Learn will feature speakers including legal advocacy manager Joyce McAneny of the Women’s Center and Shelter and survivors of domestic abuse.
Click here to view the program flyer.
Domestic violence impacts one in four women in the U.S. And while females between the ages of 16 and 24 are among the most vulnerable to intimate partner violence, domestic violence affects people regardless of age, gender, race, religion or socio-economic status. At JF&CS we work hard to break the cycle of violence…by reaching out to victims and giving them the help they need and by working to stop violence before it starts through education and promotion of healthy relationships.
We know it takes a lot of courage to seek help. To that end, we try to reach out to victims in varied ways, including partnering in these Lunch & Learns. We also know that a victim of domestic abuse typically cannot access financial resources without the knowledge of their abuser, so we provide free counseling for victims through our Squirrel Hill Psychological Services. For victims like *Shelly, these services can be a lifesaver.
Shelly met *Greg in college, and fell hard for his seemingly romantic ways. Shelly loved that he was so attentive so soon after they began dating; calling her daily, checking in on her and showering her with gifts – even making suggestions for what clothes to wear when she went out. She had never had a boyfriend so attentive before. Shelly began seeing less and less of her friends and family at his request to spend more time together, but this didn’t bother her…she loved feeling so special.
Soon they were married. After she became pregnant, Greg convinced Shelly that it would be best for her to leave her job so that she could relax during her pregnancy and care for their new baby. Shelly was moved by Greg’s sensitivity. Trusting her new husband was looking out for the best interests of the family, Shelly obliged. Early on in their marriage, Greg had taken to managing the finances and suggested that she close her individual bank account. Now, without a job or a bank account of her own, Shelly was financially dependent on Greg.
While pregnant, the check-ins Shelly had once thought were romantic and attentive became more frequent. She received as many as fifteen calls per day, every time she left the house. Greg began calling the doctor’s office to ensure she showed up for her appointments and tracked the mileage on her car.
When Shelly approached him about his behavior, he berated her, yelling at her that she didn’t care about their unborn child’s well-being. Greg constantly accused Shelly of being a bad mother, and his angry outbursts continued after the baby was born. Shelly felt scared and alone and began to question her own judgment and abilities. She was enduring daily insults about her mothering skills, and Greg’s angry outbursts escalated to include punching walls and throwing household items and furniture. Shelly was worried that as the abuse progressed, her husband might become physical towards her or involve their new baby.
Fearing for her and her child’s safety and well-being, Shelly packed their things while Greg was out of the house one day and turned to a local women’s shelter.
Shelly was referred to JF&CS’s Squirrel Hill Psychological Services and received much-needed counseling for the controlling, emotionally abusive behavior she had endured. Shelly’s counselor was determined to help Shelly work through the toll Greg’s emotional abuse had taken on her and help her to become independent again. The counselor referred Shelly to several local agencies and support groups to connect with other individuals who had been through similar situations.
Shelly is now living independently with her child and working full-time again. She has reconnected with her friends and family and continues to see her therapist to ensure she and her child stay healthy and independent.
There is no easy solution to stopping the cycle of domestic violence in our communities, but together we can reach out and encourage those who are struggling to take the first step and seek help. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, please call JF&CS at 412-422-7200 and ask for therapist Bari Benjamin. All calls are confidential.
No one deserves to be abused. If you are in an immediate crisis situation, call 911 or call the Women’s Center and Shelter of Pittsburgh’s 24 Hour Hotline at (412) 687-8005 or toll-free at (877) 338-8255.
Please forward this email to anyone you think might need help, or call us today and let us help you.
*Names and some details have been changed.