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JFCS counselor: No group immune from domestic abuse

Joan-e Rapine

Let’s End Abusive Households, a program of Jewish Family & Children’s Services of Southern Arizona,  hosted an interactive discussion with mental health counselor Joan-e Rapine on Oct. 28 to help engage the community on domestic
abuse awareness.

Rapine talked to the audience about red flags that might indicate abuse in a relationship, why victims hide evidence of abuse and why victims find it hard to leave an abusive relationship.

Survivors shared their stories and the difficulty of reaching out to shelters or clergy.

Rapine said that with current statistics reporting one in three women experiencing violence in a relationship as well as one in four men, abusive relationships are not specific to one group of people.

Regarding Jewish homes, Rapine referenced the idea of shalom bayit (peace in the home) and the struggles that keeping peace and harmony might present when a relationship becomes hostile.

“That is a key concept in the home,” Rapine said. “It is the responsibility of the woman to keep peace in the home,” according to Jewish tradition.

Rapine believes that when domestic violence isn’t given proper attention in the religious community, the normalization of abuse only gets worse.

“When we don’t talk about the problem we are perpetuating it,” Rapine said. “We’re making it bigger and bigger and it creates a stigma.”

Rapine noted that when she has talked to members of different ethnicities, cultures and faiths, people believed domestic abuse wasn’t possible in their community.

“Nobody wants to see it in their faith and their culture,” Rapine said. “Yet, we know it exists, it exists in every culture.”

Although she wants members of the community to be vigilant, counselors can only report that someone else is being abused if there are children involved.

“If we are suspecting abuse to their kids, then we would definitely alert the authorities and report,” Rapine said. “Unfortunately, we are not able to make decisions for someone else.”

Rapine stressed that the best thing to do is lend an ear to someone who shares their story of abuse with you.

“Listen, just listen,” Rapine said. “They need to talk about it, they need to be heard.”

Ultimately, it is up to a victim to reach out for help and no adult can force another to leave a situation.

Domestic abuse services are available at JFCS; call 795-0300 or email jfcsinfo@jfcstucson.org. If you or someone you know is in danger, call 911.

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