Vi­o­lence at home­ru­ins young lives

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY DANA GLOGER

THREE TO five chil­dren in each Jewish class­room on av­er­age are ex­posed to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence at home, a new re­port claims.

The sur­vey, com­mis­sioned by Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA), fol­lows a Metropoli­tan po­lice re­port sug­gest­ing that sim­i­larly large num­bers of chil­dren had ex­pe­ri­enced such vi­o­lence in the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion. The char­ity wanted to find out whether the statis­tic also ap­plied to Jewish chil­dren, and found that it did.

Its re­search was based on ques­tion­naires given to chil­dren and on in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from those us­ing its ser­vices.

Abi­gail Mor­ris, chief ex­ec­u­tive of JWA, said: “This new re­search gives all of us cause for con­cern.

“Chil­dren are, sadly, more ex­posed to do­mes­tic vi­o­lence than we had pre­vi­ously thought, and Jewish chil­dren are no ex­cep­tion.”

This is of­ten a hid­den prob­lem, she said, par­tic­u­larly within the Jewish com­mu­nity, which places great em­pha­sis on fam­ily and the home.

“This means that many of the women af­fected feel they are the only ones and will suf­fer a lot more abuse be­fore they come for­ward,” Ms Mor­ris said.

“The ef­fect on the chil­dren is aw­ful. A com­mon prob­lem is that it af­fects their self-es­teem. Of­ten, they can’t sleep and it be­gins to af­fect their school­work.”

See­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence at home also means that chil­dren do not see a pos­i­tive model of a re­la­tion­ship, she added. Chil­dren in th­ese sit­u­a­tions see their par­ents locked in a cy­cle of vic­tim and per­pe­tra­tor.

“Many chil­dren also start act­ing like par­ents, try­ing to look af­ter and pro­tect their moth­ers.

“And it’s dif­fi­cult, be­cause they love their fa­thers too.”

Some of the chil­dren are also phys­i­cally abused them­selves.

Ms Mor­ris added that the num­ber of Jewish women us­ing JWA’s ser­vices is “grow­ing ex­po­nen­tially”.

“The Jewish com­mu­nity mir­rors the wider pop­u­la­tion in this prob­lem,” she said.

She sug­gested that in fact there might be a higher pro­por­tion of Jewish chil­dren af­fected by do­mes­tic vi­o­lence than chil­dren in wider so­ci­ety, be­cause some mem­bers of the Jewish com­mu­nity have more chil­dren than the na­tional av­er­age.

JWA was es­tab­lished in 1992. It is run by and for Jewish women and their chil­dren who have ex­pe­ri­enced do­mes­tic abuse. It runs a refuge in Lon­don which houses up to eight women and their chil­dren.

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