Domestic Violence

I was in Israel this month, and there was one image that I cannot erase from my mind or forgive. It was not the carefully photographed image of a mourning family, or the television scene of the aftermath of another terrorist bombing, shooting or stabbing. It was the image of a young Arab woman walking with her three children next to the road in a small Arab village in Samaria. She walked normally

Michelle Nevada,

Michelle Nevada
Michelle Nevada
Arutz 7
I was in Israel this month, and there was one image that I cannot erase from my mind or forgive.

It was not the carefully photographed image of a mourning family, or the television scene of the aftermath of another terrorist bombing, shooting or stabbing. It was the image of a young Arab woman walking with her three children next to the road in a small Arab village in Samaria. She walked normally, easily. She walked with her children toward a cafe in the town, where men sat under an eve, out of the rain, their legs comfortably crossed before them, cigarettes dangling from their lips, as they gesticulated in conversation.

I caught this scene as I drove by in a bullet proof bus.

Why would this scene make me so angry? It made me angry because those Arabs were living a normal life. The woman and her children walked near the road afraid only of a careless driver, not a suicide bomber in a car. The men gathered comfortably, knowing that they were safe from a wild shooter or a man strapped with explosives.

Why is it that in our own country Jews must live in fear, while those who want to destroy us walk in freedom?

It reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend. We discussed how a woman who is abused by her husband is told that she must leave the home, her job, and all of her familiar things. The victim of the abuse is told that she is the one who must flee for her life with her small children and live as a homeless person, while the abuser, the man who has terrorized her and her children, walks freely in the streets, enjoys the warmth of the home, and continues on in his job and his life.

Israel is like the abused woman. She is told that she is not to blame for the violence, but that she must protect herself and her children by fleeing the abuser. She must wrap herself in walls and barbed wire. She must hide and take shelter. She is further victimized by those who say they have come to help, in the name of ?protection? and ?peace.?

Then, the abused woman is sent to counseling and told that she is the sick one. She has put her children in danger by living with her abuser. She has put her own life in danger, when she should have just picked up and left. She is told that she should just walk away and leave everything she has built and fought for to the one who has abused her. No one seems to have an answer for where she should go, or how she is to make a living, or what she is to do with her children. She lives in shame, afraid to admit that she was stupid enough to be abused, and those around her, especially those who come in the name of "help," treat her as if she is stupid and worthless. How could she have let herself become a victim? The society who blames this victim for her abuse will not see her as worthy of the same basic rights as every other person: a home, a job, a family.

Is it any wonder that she wants to return to the normal life she left, even with the abuse? Is it any wonder that she is willing to compromise with her abuser, to accept living as a second-class citizen in her own home, in order to enjoy what she has come to know as normal? After all, she was a woman of stature, a woman known in the community, a woman respected in her neighborhood. If she had just been quiet about the whole thing and taken the abuse in silence, wouldn't she have been much better off? Shouldn't she just accept the fact that she is abused, keep her home, her family, and her life? Is it really that bad?

It is that bad, and she is in mortal danger, but she doesn't want to see it. It is easier to minimize the abuse and to pretend it is not as bad as it is. She is so used to her life being destroyed bit by bit, that she begins to see this as a normal way to live ? the abuse is a sacrifice that must be made for shalom bais.

This is Israel's position as well.

She is in a sick society. She puts up with the abuse because every time she is hit or pushed or thrown against a wall, her abuser tells her, ?I didn?t really mean it,? or ?I won?t do it again,? or ?It is your own fault for being so insensitive to my needs.? Every time she asks for help from the outside world, she is told, ?You have to leave, even if it isn?t your fault.? She finds herself alone in the world. If she leaves, she destroys her life. If she stays, her life is miserable. No one cares about her, it seems. She is a victim either way.

If she is to survive abuse and get her children out of an abusive situation, she must not only fight her abuser, she must fight against the society that wants to blame her for being abused. She is not the sick one; her abuser is the sick one. He is the one who should leave the comfort of his home, the security of his job, the familiarity of his life. He is the one who is wrong. He should be made to suffer, not her.

Stopping the cycle of violence should not be dependent upon the actions of the victim. Stopping that cycle should be dependent upon correct reaction to the perpetrator. One clear voice must ring out that says, ?It is not your fault, and you will be protected!?

Israel must walk comfortably in her own house and have the right to go about her business. She should be able to walk down the street with her children, meet in a cafe, and live her life normally, without fear of abuse. But, in order for that to happen, both Israel and the outside world must turn their eyes from the easy solution ? blaming the victim, and grasp the real solution ? removing and punishing the perpetrator.

Israel should not live in fear, and she should not compromise her home to an abuser. She must claim her rights, fight to be heard, and make sure she is never victimized again.
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Michelle Nevada is a religious Jew who lives in a small town in rural Nevada. She can be contacted at Michelle_Nevada@yahoo.com.

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