Love Shouldn't Hurt
Today I discovered the National Council for Jewish Women of Columbus, Ohio's "Love Shouldn't Hurt" community service project, which educates high school students about dating abuse and healthy relationships. The NCJW's Love Shouldn't Hurt committee, chaired by Nancy Eisenman, has reached over 1,800 students with their teen dating abuse lecture. The NCJW of Columbus, Ohio is working to pass a bill to require all schools to include educational programs about dating and relationship abuse in the high school curriculum. I applaud this initiative, and wish there were a similar bill on the floor of every state legislature.
Teen dating abuse is an issue dear to my heart after teaching in a high school last year and observing this kind of abuse on a daily basis. I think people are generally aware of physical abuse issues, and schools are quick to report bruises and other signs of violence. Harder to monitor, however, are signs of verbal, and electronic, abusive behavior.
I am sure most of us are familiar with this PSA about abuse via texting, but I am not sure most realize how realistic it unfortunately is. Texting simply provides another vehicle for the kind of verbal and psychological abuse that has always existed in unhealthy relationships, and it absolutely stuns me that there is no formal health education for teens on this subject.
In recent decades, the Jewish community established a tradition of fighting against domestic abuse. The work of women like Hanna Weinberg, a Woman Who Dared, was instrumental in raising awareness of this issue. Weinberg established two safehouses for battered women in Baltimore, and played a key role in developing an Orthodox approach to combating domestic violence. Another Woman Who Dared was Rebecca Chernin, who as a high school student in 2002 contacted synagogues, youth groups, and schools to initiate training programs and workshops on dating abuse in the Jewish community. The Jewish Women International's first-ever international conference on Jewish domestic violence met in 2003. Even more recently, Holly Shulman, made the Real Hot 100 for using her bonus to found “Vote Against Violence,” a political action committee to combat domestic violence and sexual assault in 2006.
I am glad to see that Nancy Eisenman and others at the NCJW are not only following in the tradition of these anti-domestic violence activists, but that they are also expanding the fight against domestic abuse to include verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse: the slippery and often invisible forms of control that are aided and abetted by modern technology.