Posted by Elizabeth Schön Vainer
As October comes to a close, so does the 2014 Domestic Violence Awareness Month. How will JF&CS Journey to Safety measure the impact of our awareness-raising efforts this month?
If one person sees our Love Should Be Safe poster in a store window or on a synagogue bulletin board and feels empowered to reach out for help, will it be enough?
If one person watches our Love Should Be Safe video and resolves to learn more about how to help people who are coping with domestic violence, will it be enough?
If one teen who participated in a TeenSafe workshop now knows how to tell a friend she is concerned about that friend's relationship, will it be enough?
If one person sees Newton's Domestic Violence Awareness Month program on a local cable channel and realizes that the community cares and has resources to help, will it be enough?
If one colleague learns at Journey to Safety's Lunch & Learn that some of their clients' medical symptoms may be related to the stress of an abusive relationship, will it be enough?
Yes. Impacting at least one person to think, feel, and act differently is enough.
What is not enough is stopping these efforts after October.
This year the impact of domestic abuse on our society has become been talked about more openly than ever before. We want everyone to know that even the smallest changes in our knowledge, attitudes, gestures, and actions can help victims of abuse. Jewish tradition teaches that we are not required to complete the work, but neither are we free to desist from it.
I urge you to consider what you learned this month and plan how to further the impact of Domestic Violence Awareness Month's efforts. Share our video widely. Visit our website and learn more about ways you can help us raise awareness about domestic violence. When you do, you are helping survivors of abuse know they are not alone and that they live in a community that is ready to help them. Then, we will know we are having an impact.
Elizabeth Schön Vainer has been the program director of Journey to Safety, the domestic abuse program of JF&CS, since March 2010. Elizabeth is passionate about Journey to Safety's commitment to prevent domestic abuse. She believes that we must work at the individual, community, and legislative levels to shift our societal view that allows abusive behavior to remain so prevalent and damaging. When we focus on speaking up, listening to, and collaborating with others we can have a real impact. Prior to working at JF&CS, Elizabeth worked for 25 years in victim services at both the Middlesex and Suffolk County District Attorney's offices. Elizabeth holds a BSW from the University of Tel Aviv and a MS in organization and management from Antioch University.