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Record numbers of women contact domestic abuse charity

Cases up by almost half in first quarter of year

    The domestic abuse charity, Jewish Women’s Aid, is dealing with a record number of cases.

    Newly released figures show that, in the January-March period, JWA was approached for help by 103 women, up 47 per cent on the quarterly average for 2017.

    JWA believes the rise may be attributable to increased communal awareness of its work, as well as the impact of the Me Too movement.

    Domestic abuse is defined as any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse — psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional —between two adults who are or have been either intimate partners or family members.

    JWA provides a range of services for victims, including counselling, advocacy and advice and specialised therapy for children and young adults. It also runs educational programmes in schools.

    To mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in November, JWA launched a publicity campaign within the community which persuaded more women to come forward.

    Rabbis across the religious spectrum also spoke about domestic abuse in a bid to heighten awareness.

    Naomi Dickson, the JWA chief executive, said there was “no evidence at all” to support the theory that “domestic abuse is not as prevalent in our community.

    “The Me Too movement showed women they aren’t alone and that they can come forward. We’ve already seen that, rather than being just a 2017 thing, it’s continued well into 2018.”

    She believed others had come forward because of Safer Dating, a JWA campaign focusing on the 16-25 age group.

    It was geared to widen perception of what constitutes domestic abuse, including emotional abuse and coercive control, as well as encouraging friends and family members of those affected to intervene.

    Last July, the JC reported that financial difficulties meant that, in some instances, JWA was unable to offer abused women counselling for up to three months.

    The recruitment of another counsellor has eased pressure on its services, as has an influx of volunteers and co-operation with similar agencies working outside the Jewish community.

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