Educating the Community about Abuse

Published: February 23rd 2010

Jewish Women International Canada


If there is one message that Jewish Women International of Canada (JWIC) Executive Director Penny Krowitz wants to convey to the Jewish community, it is that violence against women takes many forms, not just physical violence – and the Jewish community is not immune.


 “One of the big misconceptions about abuse is that most people understand the term abuse or violence against women as meaning only being physically attacked in some way because it’s very visible if someone has been punched or kicked or has a broken leg,” said Krowitz. “One of the big things we do in our work is we help people understand that violence against women has many broad applications and is perpetrated in many different ways that are very insidious and very difficult to understand and Identify.”


Other than physical abuse, there is also emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, financial and spiritual abuse,” she said.


JWIC began in Canada in 1923. A large part of their mandate is educating the public to understand all the different facets and forms of abuse, and to be able to detect the warning signs. They also co-sponsor, with Jewish Family & Child of Toronto, ASTEH (Alternative Short Term Emergency Housing for Abused Jewish Women and their Children), a community-based shelter for abused women and their children. While abuse also happens to men, Krowitz said that the majority of victims are women, and many, sadly, do not come forward.


“Our work is all about educating the public about abuse, what it looks like, who it can happen to, what the resources are if it does happen to you,” said Krowitz.


She explained that one of the hardest issues to deal with is that verbal or psychological abuse generally starts of innocently, becoming vicious later. At first glance, there does not always seem to be any abuse going on – comments or put downs are sometimes excused as the result of workplace stress. Krowitz said that an early warning sign in this type of relationship – the first sign of abuse – is an obsession with control.


She describes abuse as “A pattern of behaviours in which one person excerpts control over the other person’s actions and behaviour,” noting that it can happen at any age, even with teenagers in a relationship.


Share with friends Print this page Read later Recommend 4 times