October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and provides us with a time to focus on what we can do to help victims of domestic violence. While not all marriages involve domestic violence, some do and the abusive behavior can continue throughout the separation and divorce process. This is especially true with regards to verbal, emotional, psychological and spiritual abuse. Examples include insulting one's spouse, withholding child visitation, placing hurdles in the civil divorce process, and withholding the Get (religious divorce) from one's spouse.
So, what can YOU do to protect yourself or your loved ones from this abuse?
(1) Recognize the signs of domestic abuse and how it manifests in different contexts. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior that occurs within families or between intimate partners with the purpose of exerting power and control. Take a look at this information sheet developed by the Met Council Family Violence Program in New York City. The domestic violence wheel of power and control (developed by the Met Council for Jewish Poverty) is also very helpful in understanding the unique aspects of domestic violence an how it manifests in different contexts.
(2) Be proactive in getting support or providing support to loved ones. Many organizations exist that can assist individuals at any stage in the divorce process, in every city and state. Contact us for more specific referral information or call the Shalom Task Force Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-888-883-2323.
(3) Spread awareness about domestic violence in your local community and beyond. Learn more about the history of National DV Awareness Month here and organizations advocating for social change (such as The Domestic Violence Awareness Project, the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and many more).
Every person can make a difference - so do something today!