Domestic violence is a national epidemic that does not differentiate between sectors of the population, and yet, until recently no study has been conducted to examine the frequency of the phenomenon within the haredi sector.
Dr. Mally Schori-Biton, a criminologist and couples' therapist from Ariel University Center conducted a pioneer research that aimed to distinguish the phenomenon's unique characteristics within the religious and haredi sectors, while addressing a subject that was considered taboo for many years – violence against women.
The research will be presented during a conference in Bar Ilan University on June 20, which will host the top therapists in the haredi sector.
"Sometimes physical violence is 'preferable' to humiliation or severe emotional abuse, which does not leave a physical mark or proof, and can lead to unbearable suffering," she said.
'Poverty can increase risk of violence'
Dr. Schori-Biton addressed the lack of research done on the domestic violence in the haredi sector, saying that "there is no statistical data to support the frequency of the phenomenon. There is data on certain communities and residential zones, but the level of religiosity is not a factor that is taken into consideration in the existing databases. And this is the basic problem that I encountered: The lack of a foundation that examines the phenomenon in this context."
The research used 88 battered women from the religious-haredi sectors as a case study, and all of them were interviewed by a haredi interviewer "that looks and dresses exactly like them, so that we can get a full and accurate picture," Dr. Schori-Biton said.
Half of the participants were haredi, while the rest considered themselves religious, and four were formerly religious-haredi. However, most of the participants did not change their level of religiosity as a result of the trauma.
Dr. Schori-Biton believes that financial status and poverty can increase the risk of domestic violence. "When there are financial crises, love flies out the window," she said, stressing that "it doesn’t mean every needy family suffers from violence, and this is only one factor out of a range of factors.
By Tali Farkash