The children are always present and hurt, even if they don’t see how Dad hits Mom. The children are well aware that something very bad is happening to their mother by an abusive spouse, they are fearful and live in no less fear than their mothers. Their trauma is three-fold – from the violence, from the fear, and their helplessness when facing their mother’s suffering. Their inability to help her leaves severe scars, no less than the fear. Before the next murder, before reading about another broken family, we must talk about the painful truth: a woman and her children will not always have where to escape.
Often children and their mothers experience additional trauma – the lack of somewhere to run to. A common misconception is assuming welfare authorities will respond immediately or find place in a shelter. The sad truth is that 70% of referrals to shelters remain unanswered. The World Health Organization estimates that hundreds of thousands of Israeli women have experienced domestic violence, but there are only 14 shelters, and room for 160 women and their children.
Following the next murder of a woman in Israel the entire country will again question whether it was possible to prevent her death, and why welfare authorities did not intervene earlier. The sad truth is that help usually comes too slowly due to the lack of adequate resources to remove the women and children from the cycle of violence. It has been over thirty years since the founding of the first “No2Violence” shelter, and we are still fighting for every penny in the budget and do not always manage to give the women all the support needed to rehabilitate and return to independence.
At the “No2Violence” they sleep relaxed for the first time in months and years. They need emotional rehabilitation, and often also physical and occupational rehab too. Many of them were victims of economic violence – with a violent spouse holding all the money and not allowing for food and other basic needs. Some women are never allowed to leave their house.
Limited resources for welfare in Israel and the lack of room in shelters for those who need protection and rehabilitation, are the main causes of trauma experienced by family victims of domestic violence. Financiers could choose to distribute funds differently, perhaps build at five more shelters to absorb even one-tenth of those who need it. Instead, even the rebuilding of crumbling shelters doesn’t receive state funding never mind the opening of additional shelters. Three and a half decades of fighting against domestic violence, and there is still no budgetary priority.
We are unable to accept and help them all, but continue to try to fight for every cent of support. I hope that we will hear of no more murders, and for there to be no more domestic violence anywhere. But, life is not fantasy. For thirty years, “No2Violence” has been there for anyone who needs us. “No2Violence”‘s rehabilitation system and dedicated volunteers help as much as we can.
I truly hope and wish that we know not of any more murders nor violence this season. Unfortunately, we know that will not happen.