In recognition of the White Ribbon Campaign and White Ribbon Day on March 7, JF&CS Journey to Safety is hosting a blog series this March, bringing four different male voices and perspectives to the conversation about domestic abuse. We look forward to your feedback and comments. Please forward these blogs to others to assist us in our mission to raise awareness about the White Ribbon Campaign.
Posted by Ira Schor
My first awareness of organized efforts to end violence against women came nearly thirty years ago. Hired as the director of an out-patient mental health clinic, I discovered that we provided services for victims of domestic abuse. These services stemmed from the efforts of a single extraordinarily dedicated counselor on our staff. I quickly realized that I had much to learn about this form of violence and of the disparate views held by society in general and the human services community in particular about its causes and what to do about it.
Twenty years ago, as a site director at Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS), I learned that one of our social workers was passionate about addressing the problem of domestic abuse. Her energy, commitment to the cause, and resourcefulness led JF&CS to create the Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition of Greater Boston (JDVC). The Coalition recruited members from throughout the Jewish community including those working in the field of domestic abuse, mental health professionals, and rabbis. This Coalition, which I later had the privilege to chair, still meets today. Among its many significant accomplishments was the energy and momentum it lent to the Jewish community to take an active role in lending a voice to victims of abuse and to building a base of allies; those who would take a stand against violence against women.
One outcome of lending a voice led directly to the creation of Journey to Safety, formerly Kol Isha (Hebrew for “the voice of a woman”), the JF&CS domestic violence counseling and advocacy program. Once again, a single individual, in this case the program’s first director, demonstrated that change, even against the tide of denial and inertia, can be led effectively when informed by vision and backed by organizational and community support. Today Journey to Safety is a pathway to empowerment, information, and self-respect supported by a community joined in the effort to end violence against women, men, and children.
Three courageous women, three decades, three successful programs bring us to action we can take today.
The White Ribbon Campaign, designed explicitly to engage men in ending violence against women, is yet another expression of what a community can achieve when organized to do good. This campaign channels outrage against injustice and the abuse of power into constructive action. I believe that as a man I have a unique responsibility and opportunity to speak out and stand up against this form of violence in our midst. As it is men who have traditionally held power in our society, it is men who must join women and renounce violence as unacceptable. I will proudly stand at the State House on March 7 this year. Will you join me?
Ira Schor, now in his twenty-first year with JF&CS, is currently the Senior VP of Operations. A licensed clinical social worker, Ira earned his MSW from Syracuse University. Prior to JF&CS, he was the director of out-patient and emergency services at a community mental health center in central Massachusetts. When not at work, Ira enjoys reading history and non-fiction, travel, and outdoor activities.