By: Mimi Kaplan, Director, JFCS Shelter Without Walls Program
Domestic Violence (DV) is a pattern of abusive and/or controlling behavior
used to gain and maintain power and control over another person. It affects
women and men and happens in every age, socioeconomic, religious, racial
and ethnic group, in every part of our country and around the world. While
physical abuse is the most easily recognized, domestic violence is not
always physical. Victims that suffer from Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
suffer emotional, psychological and verbal abuse. In fact, these three
types of abuse are present in virtually all cases of DV and are often
reported to be more damaging and difficult to heal from than physical
abuse. IPV can include sexual abuse, financial, technological and legal
abuse, threats of physical harm, destruction of property and abuse of
animals in the home.
Domestic Violence is one of the most underreported crimes and yet the numbers
are staggering. In the United States alone, one in four women and one
in nine men have reported rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an
intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. In Arizona alone, one
or more children witness domestic violence every 44 minutes. Based on
these statistics alone, it’s likely that you know someone who has
been affected by domestic violence…a friend, neighbor, family member
or even co-worker.
On September 13, 2018, during a one day Domestic Violence Counts Census
conducted annually by the National Network to End Domestic Violence, 74,823
victims were served in the United States. On that same day in Arizona,
we assisted 1,846 victims, 837 of them through non-residential programs like
Shelter Without Walls at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS).
I’m proud of the work that we’re doing to support victims of
domestic violence. Offering advocacy and support of any kind is an important
step in ending the battle. Shelter Without Walls started in 1998. It was
the first non-residential domestic violence program in Maricopa County
(and one of the first in the nation) to offer comprehensive services to
victims who were not in a shelter setting. We offer comprehensive services
including legal advocacy, safety planning and support groups to assist
survivors in attaining and maintaining safety and self-sufficiency. They’ve
entered our doors not being able to imagine a day without fear, anxiety,
self-doubt and hopelessness. We help them change that, and we’re
proud to serve them…for as long as it takes.
I urge everyone to recognize the
signs of domestic violence. If you are a victim, reach out for help. If you know someone who needs
help, be an advocate for them. Listen, believe and encourage all victims
to connect with domestic violence resources like Shelter Without Walls.
Remember to be patient as victims need to leave on their own terms. Leaving
an abusive relationship can be dangerous, so it’s imperative to
have a good exit plan.
If you want to help in additional ways, be an advocate and support legislation
and elected officials that address and promote efforts to end domestic
violence. Donate household items to help individuals and families get
back on their feet and consider making a
monetary donation or designating organizations like JFCS for the
Arizona Charitable Tax Credit, which means we can continue to offer valuable services to our community.