In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, JF&CS Journey to Safety is hosting a blog series this October, bringing five different voices and perspectives to the conversation about domestic abuse in the Jewish community. We look forward to your feedback and comments. Please forward these blogs to others to assist us in our mission to raise awareness about domestic abuse.

Posted by Julie Riven Jaye

purple ribbonAs I prepare to step down as Chairperson of the JF&CS Journey to Safety Advisory Committee, I've been reflecting back on what it took to launch a domestic violence program for the Jewish community. What began as a project for a self- expression workshop became a full-fledged, well-respected program with a director, two domestic abuse advocates, an outreach and program coordinator, a teen educator, and a strong advisory committee!

Here's a bit about the story of how Journey to Safety came to be:

About fourteen years ago I reflected on my good fortune in life and felt grateful to be in a happy and healthy second marriage. Feeling strong and full of conviction to help others, I responded to an observation that the Jewish community was resistant to the fact that domestic violence happened in our backyard. At the time, the prevailing myth was that it wasn't possible for a Jewish man to be an alcoholic or, worse yet, an abuser. I met others who shared their concern with this view, and they inspired me to become an advocate. I knew I needed to work with others to call attention to the lack of culturally sensitive services for Jewish women. Challenging, but not impossible!

Grassroots work led to raising $30,000. JF&CS agreed to launch the program and hired a part-time domestic violence coordinator; that was the start to Kol Isha, now Journey to Safety!

Where we are today:

Fourteen years later, we recognize that every kind of person can marry or date an abuser. Whether they are a woman or man, straight or gay, Jewish or not, domestic abuse is an epidemic across all socioeconomic spheres. Controlling, intimidating (including physical, sexual, financial, and emotional abuse) behavior can be perpetrated by men, women, and teens.

As a program of JF&CS, Journey to Safety can access essential resources for clients, all under one roof. We have an amazing program director and committed advocates. We also have volunteers that meet five to seven times a year to discuss the program and projects and brainstorm.

Lastly, with the support of the Boston Jewish Community Women's Fund, we have expanded our prevention efforts. TeenSafe creates young leaders who share Journey to Safety's commitment to promote healthy relationships and end dating and domestic abuse.

Stepping aside but not leaving:

I feel confident at this juncture that JF&CS Journey to Safety has established deep roots in the community and will not go away until such time that physical, emotional, and sexual abuse is a thing of the past. In the meantime, we're here and our doors are open to any individual who asks for help.

julie riven jayeJulie Riven Jaye is a passionate advocate for Jewish women and families. Empowered by her convictions, years of outreach, and help from many professional and lay people in the community, Julie was a leading funder in the creation of Journey to Safety. She served as the chair of the Journey to Safety Advisory Committee, was a member of the JF&CS Board of Directors, and is a member of the Boston Jewish Community Women's Fund. Julie is a chef and food writer for the Boston Globe. She also co-authored "The Way We Cook: Recipes from the New American Kitchen" and is currently working on a children's cookbook. Julie and her husband, Barry, reside in Boston with their dog Farfel. They have five children and four grandchildren.