With Thanksgiving just around the corner and Chanukah following quickly upon its heels, it is time for families to come together with gratitude for their blessings. In the midst of our hectic schedules, we sometimes fail to make time for those closest to us. This can be a time for us to stop, and reconnect with family and friends.
Unfortunately, for too many families, Thanksgiving can be a difficult time. We are encouraged to gather together with families around a table, overloaded with delicious food and give thanks for our blessings. But for those amongst us whose lives do not match up to this idealized image, this season can be very painful or even terrifying.
One issue that sadly affects too many of us is domestic violence. Gathering on Thanksgiving with family can be particularly challenging for those whose families have been torn apart by violence and abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in four women and one in nine men experience domestic violence during their lives. Research further shows that the Jewish community experiences the same rates of domestic violence.
The CDC recognizes this as a public health problem, noting that domestic violence is the gateway to a whole host of other health issues. Tragically, not only are victims at risk of death by the escalating nature of the violence they experience, they also have an 80 percent higher chance of stroke, a 70 percent higher chance of heart disease and a 60 percent higher risk for asthma. Alarmingly, in the last two years, domestic violence murders have more than tripled in Louisville.
For KentuckyOne Health, whose mission it is to bring wellness, healing and hope to the broader community, we feel called to do something to make a difference. We are proud to launch a new and evidence-based initiative: “Arise to Safety,” specifically for our downtown campus of Jewish Hospital and the University of Louisville Hospital, to impact these numbers in a profound way.
We are grateful for the generous support that we have received from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence in order to help us actualize this vision. In partnership with the Center for Women and Families and the Mary Byron Project, we now have an effective way to reduce the number of domestic-violence related homicides in our community through a scientifically validated lethality screening tool, also used by the Louisville Police Department.
We are launching increased training and able to offer the resources necessary to not only intervene, but to help support victims escape to safety. We have also partnered with the University of Louisville School of Public Health to help us track our success in trying to reduce these statistics for our community.
There are many reasons to be proud of the work that we do, and this is definitely one of them! This is just one of our many KentuckyOne Health projects that helps us to live out our mission, or as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel once put it, “to pray with our feet.”
As Thanksgiving and Chanukah approach, I am so grateful for the generosity, creativity and capacity to partner and collaborate, so that we can work together to create miracles. May the day soon come when violence will end, and all those in pain can feel hope for a brighter and safer future.