Not Accepting Silence
December 28, 2016
Posted by: Jeremy Russell, Director of Marketing & Communications
Bear A Torch – This week’s torchbearer, Shalom Bayit, was born as a task force addressing domestic violence in the Bay Area Jewish community, but has always remained connected to a broader national agenda. Focused on the intimate space of the home, Shalom Bayit’s impact is inherently political because true abuse is never a single act or simplistic pattern of physical violence. Rather it is best understood as a deliberate strategy of intimidation -- which usually includes verbal and emotional abuse -- used by abusers to control their victims. It reinforces existing power structures. And, depending on the abuser, fighting back can be a profound act of rebellion.
Torchbearer: Shalom Bayit
By many measures domestic violence appears to be higher during the holidays. However, comprehensive statistical research paints a complicated portrait and experts caution that accurate trend analysis is nearly impossible when most abuse is deliberately hidden. Seasonal trends may only reflect an increase in reporting. What we know is that spousal abuse itself doesn’t take a holiday. That’s why our torchbearer this week is Shalom Bayit, the small, highly dedicated organization that has provided culturally relevant support for Jewish battered women throughout the Bay Area since 1992.
Created as a volunteer-based task force of the Northern California Coalition for Battered Women and their Children, Shalom Bayit transitioned in 2000 to a funded agency. It remains Northern California’s first and only Jewish agency dedicated solely to ending domestic violence in the Jewish community. To accomplish its mission, the organization focuses on three core areas: transforming individual lives by supporting battered Jewish women, transforming communities through outreach and education, and transforming the future through youth programs.
Perhaps the most important and empowering of its offerings is confidential peer counseling to Jewish women who have experienced abuse in the home. Its counselors can be reached toll free within the Bay Area via 866-SHALOM-7 (742-5667) or 510-451-SAFE. As well as counseling, Shalom Bayit organizes support groups and can arrange for court accompaniment, safety planning and advocacy within the Jewish community.
Shalom Bayit also engages in abuse prevention education. This work includes building community-wide prevention programs and hosting panels and workshops for the Jewish community on dynamics of violence, Jewish responses (historical and present) and cultural perspectives. Shalom Bayit is working to reshape the attitudes that perpetuate violence against women by providing in-service trainings for counselors, social workers, attorneys, rabbis and other Jewish professionals, and domestic violence shelter workers. Importantly, it also provides workshops on setting healthy boundaries.
Since 2002, Shalom Bayit’s educational outreach has provided Jewish youth and their advocates with relationships workshops, dating violence prevention programs, and companion programs for parents and educators. (2002 was the year the “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” teen program was born, created by youth interns.)
Shalom Bayit’s groundbreaking cultural approach to violence prevention has had an undeniable impact. Its cutting-edge models are now used in Jewish communities throughout the country and its team provides technical assistance and consultations to other agencies wishing to help end violence against Jewish women. Shalom Bayit has cultivated culturally specific programs relevant to all Jewish denominations and -- important to mention during the holidays -- it has created unique spiritual programs that provide holiday healing rituals and services for survivors of abuse.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline is often an abuse victim’s first call for help and provides many ways to be supportive for those who want to help.
- Prefer a local focus on the larger Bay Area? Volunteer with WOMAN, Inc. (Women Organized to Make Abuse Nonexistent, Inc.) a community-based, multi-service agency serving survivors.
- If you're an attorney or law student, or just want to make a difference for abuse victims seeking legal help, Get Involved with BayLegal’s Domestic Violence Prevention Project.
- In San Francisco, GLIDE Women’s Center provides a wide variety of services designed to help women who face Intimate partner violence and associated concerns.
- In the East Bay, the Alameda County Family Justice Center works to provide transportation, childcare, women’s empowerment programs and job skills.
- In the North Bay, the Women's Justice Center is providing advocacy, free of charge, for victims of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse, particularly in the Latina and other underserved communities of Sonoma County.
- On the Peninsula, Shalom Bayit’s support group provides a regular, accessible local meeting location for clients and constituents.
PHOTO: Love Shouldn't Hurt 2016 – Each year Shalom Bayit's “Love Shouldn't Hurt” program reaches over 1,000 Jewish youth with educational workshops on healthy relationships, boundaries and consent.