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JFS is here for Domestic Abuse Survivors

October 4th, 2017 - Brett Diaz

Before you continue reading, I would like to inform you that the paragraphs below may trigger traumatic stress in survivors and witnesses of domestic abuse. If you are a survivor of abuse, you may wish to proceed directly to the fourth paragraph of this article. My goal is to educate those unfamiliar with abuse and to provide an understanding of what it feels like to be in a survivor’s shoes.

Imagine you are in your nice cozy bed, with your comfortable sheets and a warm blanket, sleeping peacefully and soundly. You are suddenly awakened by someone yelling. Your eyes are still adjusting to the dark, so you are unable to see what is going on around you. Your thoughts go to your children, and you wonder, are they safe? Your heart starts pounding, and your breathing becomes more labored. You feel the adrenaline rushing through your body. The smell of alcohol begins to fill the room. Your partner is insulting you, belittling you, getting closer and closer, and you are filled with fear that he is going to strike you. You offer to get him a glass of water, hoping that he sobers up and allows you to leave the room to check on the children. He agrees and lies down on the bed, just as you quickly leave the room. You can breathe again. You are safe…for now.

This is just one example of the many times a survivor experiences fear, intimidation and control, as well as physical, emotional, financial and sexual abuse.

Goodman Jewish Family Services is proud of their ability to serve survivors of domestic abuse.  The Domestic Abuse program offers care management, resource coordination, individual and group counseling and financial assistance for survivors of intimate partner abuse. Through our care management services, survivors are able to access resources in the community to meet their most basic needs. Individual and group counseling assists clients with processing the trauma they have experienced and facilitates healing from this trauma. Group counseling provides a safe place to meet other survivors who have lived through the horrors of abuse, and they provide one another with insight and support. Through our financial assistance program, we are able to assist our clients with emergency hotel stays when shelters are full, help clients move into new homes, and link survivors with educational opportunities to help them achieve financial independence.

In the past year, Goodman JFS assisted 61 survivors of abuse. We provided services on 1,067 occasions to our clients including phone support, follow up with service agency providers, individual and group counseling and face-to-face care management sessions. Many of our survivors overcame their difficult circumstances and began new lives for themselves. Other survivors chose to remain in their relationships, and we will continue providing support and guidance through that equally difficult decision. It is not our place to pass judgment as to why someone stays, but rather to provide survivors with a supportive environment so that they can grow and prosper despite their circumstances.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it is important to discuss the prevalence of domestic abuse that is rampant throughout every community. Domestic abuse does not discriminate based on age, race, religion or socioeconomic status.

Here are some alarming statistics about domestic violence:

• Domestic violence is an issue that is impacting our children. According to the CDC, “22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some form of partner violence between 11 and 17 years of age. “

• Domestic violence can be lethal according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.”

• The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence also reports, “1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.”

It is our responsibility as an agency, as a community, and as human beings to talk about domestic abuse with our family and friends. You never know when you might come face-to-face with a survivor who is suffering in silence.

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