A leading domestic violence charity has seen a 50 per cent increase in the number of women using its services over the past four months.
Jewish Women’s Aid, which supports women and their children affected by domestic abuse, said the number of people dependent on the charity has risen from 40 to 60 since November.
JWA executive director Naomi Dickson said the increase could be explained by rising awareness of the issue in the Jewish community at schools, synagogue and welfare bodies.
“It is partly due to our high-profile advertising campaign and increased awareness-raising in the community,” she said, noting that since November, JWA has placed notices at bus-stops, shop windows, doctor surgeries and restaurants across north-west London.
“We have had, since the campaign started, an average of one new client per day coming into our services.
“Other agencies are referring to us as usual but the main difference is that women have gained the knowledge and the courage to pick up the phone and contact us directly themselves.”
She added: “The focus of the campaign is that domestic abuse happens everywhere, across the whole span of the community — no area is exempt. We challenged the community to acknowledge this fact, and to blow the cover of secrecy which surrounds the issue.”
Ms Dickson revealed that a number of women dependent on the charity are affected by get-denial.
She said: “Many of our clients are seeking a civil and religious divorce and some of them do fall into difficulties obtaining a get. In such cases, we will see advice from a rabbi or the London Beth Din.
“We have around half a dozen women a year who struggle on some level to obtain a get.
Ms Dickson said that in some cases, women returned to their abusive partners who had denied them a get.
She explained: “This could be for a complicated variety of reasons, usually involving access to children and money and the get might be tied up with this. We would urge any women who is having problems getting her get to contact us.”
JWA’s shelter currently houses fewer than five women. Most of its service-users are supported by finding alternative housing solutions or legal remedies, she explained. “Refuge is an absolute last resort”.
Meanwhile, national domestic violence charity Women’s Aid has reported a close on 20 per cent increase in calls after an emotional storyline about psychological abuse was run on BBC Radio 4 programme The Archers.
On the show, Helen Archer falls victim to psychological abuse – and perhaps rape – by her husband Robert Titchener.