In Israel, as of today, there are 13 shelters for battered women.
Women accessing services are sent to a shelter far from home, to ensure their safety. They are accompanied by their children, ages 0 – 14 years. Women in these shelters are often uneducated, poor and have no supporting family or community. Their children are at-risk for developing problems in many spheres – psychological, behavioral and social. The cycle of abuse in violent families leads to a situation of learned helplessness making emotional assistance a must. These children lose trust in the ability of adults to protect and provide for them, which in turn impacts on their emotional stability. Statistics show that they are at-risk for becoming abusive adults later on in life. Paradoxically, abused children often choose abusive partners as their spouses.
On arrival at the Shelter, women and children can be very unsettled, frightened and traumatized. It is crucial to provide them with a feeling of safety and security. In order to protect women fleeing their homes, the address of the shelter is kept secret and they do not change their official addresses in their identity documents. As an added precaution the authorities send women to a city far from her home-town. While this fosters a feeling of safety for the mothers, their children who are not officially Haifa residents lose some of their rights, and in fact often fall between the cracks. Although they do attend local schools, they are not entitled to attend Municipal learning centers for didactic and therapeutic help in the after school hours. Teachers view them as temporary pupils, and therefore not much effort is spent on help with school work. They also lose out on their studies when moving from city to city – a time of change and uncertainty for them.
Problems with children at the shelter manifest themselves in different ways, to name a few – violence, lack of appropriate borders, bedwetting, hoarding, stealing, lack of faith in others – and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Our program for children includes:
A professional assessment, followed by help with learning disabilities, emotional problems, developmental delays, and attention deficit (ADD). Often, staff at the shelter does not know if the learning problems are rooted in actual learning difficulties or a result of emotional problems and/or trauma following extended periods of abuse – making professional assessments a must. Mothers, involved in their own problems, are not always emotionally available to attend to their children and give them the required attention. While shelters mainly provide care for mothers, children lose out when authorities forget the importance of attending to all their needs – be these emotional or educational. Today there is growing awareness to care for the children of abused mothers, to ensure that they do not become“forgotten victims”.
Mothers benefit from professional emotional therapy provided by Arugot’s therapists.
This program is tuition free.
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