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Giving a Voice to Domestic Violence

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  • Written By: Mimi Kaplan, Director, JFCS Shelter Without Walls program
Giving a Voice to Domestic Violence

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.