Making a date to tackle abusive relationships
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