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In the Jewish community

One woman in four will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. It affects all women, regardless of age, education, class, lifestyle or religion; the Jewish community is no different to any other.

Judaism’s emphasis on family life and family values can make it difficult for women to talk about what has happened to them and to ask for help. Women may remain silent through shame, embarrassment, a feeling of guilt or fear that they will not be believed. They feel alone, that no-one else has experienced such abuse and that it must be their fault.

Family and children are vitally important in Judaism and the home is the centre of our religion. Many of our festivals and observances are centred on the home and family. This makes it all the harder for women to admit to the domestic violence they have suffered, which is so at odds with our religious code.

In fact, Jewish law expressly forbids personal violence and requires commitment to shalom bayit, a happy and peaceful family life. Jewish men who commit domestic violence, are destroying shalom bayit and breaking Jewish law.

On average, evidence suggests that women are abused 35 times* before they confide in anyone. There is some evidence to suggest that Jewish women might wait even longer before seeking help.

It can be very difficult for a Jewish woman or child experiencing domestic violence to tell someone within their community what is happening. And, for many, it is equally impossible to seek help from outside for fear of bringing not only shame to their community but also their religion into disrepute.

At JWA we have specially trained staff and counsellors, from the frum community, who are able to offer support for Orthodox women. We also have specially trained and sympathetic Rabbonim and Rebbetzens who can offer rabbinic support. Please call us if you’d like to talk to one of them.

Being believed, accepted, supported and understood is vital. It brings strength and comfort and is the start of recovery.

* (Jaffe 1982)