Art & Reality: Stopping the Cycle of Family Violence
TRIGGER WARNING: This blog post contains information about domestic abuse and/or violence which may be triggering to some.
Over the past few months, I have been part of an art project in my community, where local artists instruct us (via Zoom) on various techniques to create portraits of ourselves through art. One of the workshops focused on tackling “rage and healing” through comics. What an eye-opener!
It was heart-wrenching to learn about extreme family abuse that some of my fellow-artists experienced, as expressed through their comics and other art. One woman had been dumped from a car as a young child, when her parents were arguing about what to do with a “useless” girl. Another depicted how she still “chokes with rage” when she thinks of family traumas. Each have found ways—and art—to help them cope, but many effects linger.
That’s why I was so intrigued when I read that Na’amat Israel is campaigning for a bill to recognize children who witness violence at home as "victims of abuse.” For one, this bill aims to create longer sentences for abusive fathers, especially those who have murdered or severely battered their wives. Children who witness such horrors would then have less chance for future contact with these abusers.
Na’amat’s groundbreaking work preventing and treating domestic violence —particularly at its renowned Glickman Centre in Tel Aviv —shows that children in abusive families can suffer all their lives. In the short term, bad effects include sleeping problems, heightened anxiety and learning difficulties. Long term, boys are at greater risk of becoming abusive fathers, and girls of marrying violent men.
Among its vital services, the Glickman Centre runs the Rhodie Blanshay Benaroch Children’s Centre, which provides a safe haven for children, along with strong social and psychological support. As well, Na’amat’s Pyjama-to-Pyjama services offer extended-hour daycares across Israel for up to 2,000 children in harsh family situations, allowing them to spend most of their waking hours in a safe and nurturing environment.
These are just a few ways that Na’amat works tirelessly to break the cycle of family violence, a terrible problem that affects families in all countries, all social strata. For me, it paints a good picture of why I’m proud to be a member of Na’amat.
Toby is a member of Na’amat Canada Toronto.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are the writer’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Na’amat Canada.