Mak­ing a date to tackle abu­sive relationships

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ROSA DO­HERTY

ED­U­CAT­ING YOUNG PEOPLE about healthy relationships is the key to pre­vent­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, ac­cord­ing to Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA).

Claire God­ley, ed­u­ca­tion co-or­di­na­tor for JWA, the community’s lead­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence char­ity, said: “We have to teach young people early on about what is healthy and what is not if we want to pre­vent vi­o­lence and abuse.”

Ms God­ley was speak­ing at the launch of the char­ity’s Safer Dat­ing pro­gramme, set up to tackle the lack of ser­vices for young people.

“Very few 16-to-18-year-olds re­ceive ed­u­ca­tion on relationships in the sixth form,”Ms God­ley stated. “It has long been clear to us that, as well as pro­vid­ing refuge and coun­selling, we must also try to pre­vent people from be­com­ing trapped in abu­sive relationships to start with.”

At the launch, young people heard how to spot signs of abu­sive relationships such as emo­tional ma­nip­u­la­tion, con­trol, and lies.

Batsi Co­hen, 18, said she was never taught about healthy relationships in school and had never had an adult ex­plain what to do if she was in an unsafe re­la­tion­ship.

“It is im­por­tant for both people in a re­la­tion­ship to know the bound­aries of what is right or wrong,” she said.

“If you don’t get taught that, then it can mean you ac­cept things that you shouldn’t.

“I know a lot of Jewish people who are in vi­o­lent relationships and I think it is im­por­tant to ed­u­cate young people early, so that doesn’t hap­pen.”

Deb­bie Kay, 18, said: “When you are young, you can be blinded by love and not know that what is hap­pen­ing to you is not OK.”

Ed­u­ca­tors from JWA’s dat­ing pro­gramme have al­ready vis­ited 11 Jewish schools to teach stu­dents how to spot and re­spond to con­trol­ling be­hav­iours.

Ms God­ley said: “There is a grow­ing and wor­ry­ing trend of stalk­ing, abuse and ha­rass­ment on cam­pus. Jewish stu­dents are not im­mune from this.

“No one wants to en­vis­age abuse hap­pen­ing to them, so we try to en­cour­age young people to look at abuse in the con­text of a friend who might no­tice some­thing go­ing wrong.”

Emma Gor­don, 25, at­tended Mon­day evening’s event in cen­tral Lon­don. She said: “My fear is people don’t talk about it be­cause they think it doesn’t hap­pen in the community.

“The more we talk about it, the more people will feel OK about it and they will know they can get help.

“It was never some­thing I was taught about in school, but it is re­ally im­por­tant to de­fine what a healthy re­la­tion­ship is be­cause it

Tak­ing a bite out of the is­sues will af­fect the type of re­la­tion­ship you have later in life.”

Alex Hisen­rath, head-boy of Hert­ford­shire’s Im­manuel Col­lege, took part in one of the Safer Dat­ing ses­sions.

He ar­gued that mod­ern cul­ture and the be­hav­iour of young men who were in­flu­enced by pornog­ra­phy meant “there was a lot of ex­pec­ta­tion, es­pe­cially in the bed­room, for young people.

“Ed­u­ca­tion needs to be the tool to stop that. JWA has given me the con­fi­dence to spot if some­thing is wrong with one of my friends’ relationships.

“Even in a Jewish school, stu­dents are go­ing to be hav­ing sex and it is bet­ter to teach them about safe relationships and sex so they make the right choices.”

Joel Sal­mon, of the Board of Deputies, and guest speaker at the JWA launch, said: “Young people are sta­tis­ti­cally the most at risk of in­ti­mate part­ner vi­o­lence. It is crucial that this age group has ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion about what makes a healthy re­la­tion­ship.

“We know the build-up to a se­ri­ous as­sault of­ten in­volves less ob­vi­ous forms of abuse and con­trol­ling be­hav­iours. JWA’s pro­gramme han­dles the is­sues sen­si­tively. “Fam­ily and friends are in­flu­en­tial and role mod­els in the community are re­ally im­por­tant.”

On a roll: around 50 people at­tended JWA’s Safer Dat­ing event

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