October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and this annual national observance gives organizations and community members the opportunity to initiate important conversations about how this issue affects family, friends and our community.
Breaking the cycle of domestic abuse through community collaboration
Domestic violence impacts one in four women in the U.S., and it affects people of all ages, races, religions and socio-economic status. While men are also victims of abuse, females between the ages of 16 and 24 are among the most vulnerable to intimate partner violence.
Earlier this month, Rhonda Fleming of the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh, appeared on Pittsburgh Today Live to discuss teen dating violence, warning signs and advice for prevention. The Women’s Center and Shelter is an important JF&CS partner, and we hope you’ll take a few minutes to watch the segment (starting at 22:48).
Domestic violence and abuse are concerns that require community-wide knowledge and involvement to help support victims and end the cycle of violence.
JF&CS provides support and resources for women in the Jewish community and beyond
For decades, JF&CS has reached out to the Jewish community and beyond to build awareness of domestic violence and to encourage abused women to seek counseling and safety. Through the Jewish Domestic Abuse Task Force, we partner with several organizations in providing programs that inform the public about issues related to domestic abuse. We also provide counseling to individuals who have experienced domestic violence and help connect them with critical resources, including local shelters.
JF&CS is also 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 area. Local women who call the STF hotline will be directed to contact JF&CS where they can confidentially talk to a trained counselor.
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. We also know that a victim of domestic abuse typically cannot access financial resources without the knowledge of their abuser, so we provide a limited number of free counseling sessions for victims through Squirrel Hill Psychological Services.
Protecting immigrant women in domestic abuse situations
Additionally, JF&CS’s Legal Services for Immigrants & Internationals (LSII) reaches out to immigrant women in abusive relationships, an initiative funded through a grant from the FISA Foundation to further the efforts of its Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Project. Unfortunately, many immigrant women who are being abused don’t know about their rights or even that domestic abuse is illegal in this country. Often these are women whose legal status in this country is dependent on their abusive partner.
The Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence Project allows JF&CS’s LSII division to increase awareness of rights and access to legal services for immigrant victims of abuse, allowing them to obtain legal permanent resident status and get connected with other services that will help them to escape abusive situations. This program also conducts outreach and cultural competency training to community leaders and medical professionals who come into contact with immigrant women in order to better identify abuse and to help immigrant women who are being abused get the assistance needed to leave their abusers and work legally to support their families.
No one deserves to be abused. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or abuse, please call JF&CS at 412-422-7200 and ask for therapist Bari Benjamin. All calls are confidential. If you are in an immediate crisis situation, call 911 or call the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh’s 24 Hour Hotline at (412) 687-8005 or toll-free at (877) 338-8255.