Just because he’s not hitting you doesn’t mean it’s not abuse. Did you know one out of every four women has been or will be abused in her lifetime?
That’s an enormous number — and a tragedy that needs to be stopped immediately.
Jewish Women International of Canada (JWIC), with offices in Montreal and Toronto, is hoping to do just that. By constantly and tirelessly educating the public, creating awareness, and raising money for the cause. And they need our help.
Look around you. How many women can you count? Now do the math: one in every four are at risk.
Abuse does not have to come in physical form. In fact, physical abuse can often be last on the list. According to Penny Krowitz, executive director of JWIC, “no guy (suddenly) walks into his house and starts beating up on his wife. Physical abuse is part of a continuum of abuse that a woman experiences.”
A woman can experience emotional abuse, verbal and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, and even financial abuse.
Here’s an example: If you and your partner decide together that he should be in charge of all your finances, if that works well for both of you, fine. But if he insists you turn over your paycheque to his control, or gives you an allowance but insists on seeing all receipts, or uses the family money for his own selfish use — these are all forms of financial abuse.
Did you know that even in a marriage sexual activity must be consensual? That means you have to want to be intimate. Even in a marriage, women can be raped and abused, forced to do things they don’t wish.
What’s verbal abuse? Being told that you’re stupid, fat, ugly, that the children’s weaknesses are your fault, that all the problems in the relationship stem from you, that even your partner’s problems are somehow your fault. Being berated, belittled, put down — these are all forms of verbal and psychological abuse.
“Verbal abuse is subtle and insidious,” explains Krowitz, “and women make excuses (for it) all the time.”
It’s not enough to write a column about the problem, it’s not enough to read about it. It’s still happening, every day, across our country. The work of the JWIC is to get the message out, to educate teenagers and college students before they get involved in long-term relationships, to help them recognize the signs early enough, when they still have the strength to get out.
Last Sunday, the JWIC’s 2nd annual Diva Day was held in Toronto. A day for women to come together, to nourish their souls, inspire their minds, and enlighten their spirits. A day for women to learn about the issues of violence and abuse against women. A day for women to be pampered, and thus strengthened from within.
Too many women don’t even recognize when they are in an abusive relationship. We need to change that.