Broadcaster Emma Barnett said domestic abuse is “still a subject shrouded in shame”, as she appeared on a panel to raise greater awareness of the issue.
Adressing a virtual audience of 530 viewers, Barnett – who next month becomes the new presenter of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour – was joined by economist and bestselling author Noreena Hertz and designate domestic abuse commissioner Nicole Jacobs for the event hosted by Jewish Women’s Aid (JWA) on Thursday evening.
In revealing how domestic abuse has increased on a national level, CEO Naomi Dickson said: “We’ve seen the same at Jewish Women’s Aid”.
She added: “Women are telling us that they’re increasingly anxious, increasingly prone to experiencing physical abuse and they’re very, very concerned about their children who are traumatised by what they’re witnessing in the home.”
Hertz, in conversation with Barnett, talked about the problem of “optimism bias”, whereby a close community can fail to acknowledge their own members can be affected by such issues.
She said: “If you’re Jewish, you may find it extremely hard to believe that that’s happening in your community”.
Yet that same community can also prove extremely helpful in providing the right support for victims, added Jacobs, explaining that when a woman is subject to abuse, “there’s so much pressure, so much fear, that of course the first step you want to take is to someone that you trust, who you know, who you know would understand you and your background.”
CEO Naomi Dickson said: “We are completely overwhelmed, not just by the scale of attendance, but also the expressions of support we received throughout and after the event.
Women are telling us that they’re increasingly anxious, increasingly prone to experiencing physical abuse and they’re very, very concerned about their children who are traumatised by what they’re witnessing in the home
“The whole JWA team really feels like there is real support for a more open discussion about domestic abuse in our community and that can only be a good thing.”
The event was part of Jewish Women’s Aid campaign #AMaskWontProtectHer launched last month to raise awareness of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse in the Jewish community and coincides with the international campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.
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