I share with you something I wrote this week on social media:
“An end to domestic violence??
In a couple of days time we will usher in the month of Adar. The Talmud relates “Mishenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha-When the month of Adar enters we should increase in our joy”. The question which has been plaguing my mind over the past few days is how are we supposed to live up to this expectation of the Talmud?
How can we increase in our joy when a mother and her three beautiful children, Hannah, Aaliyah(6) Laianah (4) and Trey (3) were murdered by their father and her estranged husband just last week??
How can we as a community rejoice at a time like this??
This story has stunned the nation. Rightly so. Seeing their innocent faces is heart breaking and each of has to ask the question how do we put a stop to this?!
However, sadly and tragically, it is not an isolated incident. I continue to see media posts from advocacy groups such as Impact run by Kathy Kaplan which report every day on the murder, violence and abuse that is inflicted against women and children by men and most often by their partners or husbands.
And let us not for one second believe that this doesn’t exist within every single community. It does. Our Jewish community included.
And let us not for one second believe that it’s only an issue if there is actual physical violence. There are numerous UNACCEPTABLE behaviours, including; intimidation, verbal, physical, financial, emotional and sexual abuse and let’s not forget Gett refusal. When a man believes he is entitled to control his partner, that is abuse!
And let’s not for one second believe that women are always believed or assisted went they reach out for help.
I personally remember receiving a call from a young mother who described her terrible circumstances of living in an abusive relationship (emotional abuse at that stage). She did not know where to turn. She was extremely worried about the safety of her children and what they were witnessing on a regular basis. To add to the dire predicament, she had spoken to her own parents and some friends and they told her to work it out and “deal with it”!
Yes, you read that correctly, “deal with it!”
I was fortunate to be able to provide some referrals and she managed to get help. But this is not an isolated story. I have no doubt that my colleagues and others are dealing with similar issues on a daily basis! More alarmingly the outcome is not always as successful as this particular case.
So what do we do? I think the most important things we can do, is to not say “I can’t help”, it’s not my problem”, “the government is working on it” or “let the rabbis deal with it”. Each of us can play a role and it is irrelevant how big or small that role might be. Every piece is required to solve this puzzle.
There are indeed many approaches and angles we can take to face this crisis. One such tool is to continue to break the stigma on this issue as well as to recognize the issue starts with the language and attitude we as a society accept.
Not too long ago I wrote about how I was using the StairMaster at gym and a guy came over to me and asked me why I was using a “girls machine”. He said I should rather be doing some ‘real stuff’! There was also major concern I raised after I had broken my arm some months ago and received a few comments like “I can see you’ve taught your wife a lesson” or “ did you break it hitting your wife because she wasn’t behaving?”
It begins by eradicating these warped and dangerous comments and beliefs and teaching our sons that being ‘a man’ holds a different meaning to its current definition. We need educate our society that girls and women should be able to live free from the threat of violence, abuse, intimidation or control and enjoy this freedom in the home, workplace and community.
Someone remarked that I write a lot on this subject. I replied that I will continue to do so until there is no longer a need.
It will indeed be difficult to rejoice as Adar enters. But I honestly believe we need to use this opportunity to work together to achieve the change required. Educate yourself and others. Speak out. Talk about it. Offer help or respond when some reaches out. Take the matter seriously!
As we make more and more inroads it will of course benefit the women of our society but men too will benefit. They will experience better relationships with their partners and enjoy an increased emotional connection to themselves and the ones they love!”
Wishing you a beautiful Shabbat and weekend ahead!