Help for children who witness domestic abuse

Jewish Women's Aid has expanded its services to children who have witnessed domestic abuse.

The charity, which provides advice, counselling and refuge to abused women, has recruited Nicola Wilson, a specialist children's worker.

Now JWA will offer children one-to-one support, group sessions and after-school activities, and mothers support to deal with the effect on children of being in an abusive household.

Ms Wilson, who has worked for the national branch of Women's Aid for five years, said: "One in four women experience domestic violence and it's the same within the Jewish community.

"It's important to educate children from a young age that domestic violence isn't acceptable. The family is such a pivotal part of Jewish life, so the shame may be heightened for Jewish women.

"Some Jewish families are much larger too, so there may be five children from the same family who need the service."

The service will be available to Jewish children in any London borough whose mothers are accessing JWA's services.

One victim is a mother of five from London. She has been married for 20 years and turned to JWA last year after her husband was arrested for assault.

She said: "I suffered emotional and physical abuse for a number of years.

"About five years ago I went to the Jewish Marriage Council for help. The counsellor did not spot the abuse and just said it was how men were, and brushed it under the carpet.

"Only now I realise how controlling my husband was. He was very manipulative and charming. He took everything from us, all our money and the car. I thought I was alone. I was petrified. I was ashamed.

"JWA helped me as soon as I contacted them. They helped me get an injunction against him, put me in touch with a counsellor and helped me with legal and financial matters. They also found a counsellor for my children. It's so important because children can't express themselves.

"We are a small community but we can't pretend this doesn't happen. We can't cover this up."

    Last updated: 9:58am, November 12 2010