This article originally appeared in the Jewish News on 6 March 2020.

This Sunday is International Women’s Day, the perfect time for Jewish Women’s Aid to announce the launch of a new web chat service.

From 20 April, in the click of a button on our website, Jewish women and girls will be able to reach digital support and advice from one of our trained support workers.

It’s a big move for us to expand access to our services beyond our traditional helpline and email entry points, but times are changing and we need to make sure we’re providing support in ways that best suit women and girls in our community.

Evidence tells us that younger women – digital natives – are the group most likely to be affected by relationship abuse and we want to do everything we can to make it easy for them to reach vital support.

While not all the women using the service will be under 25, we suspect that a lot of them will be – so we have trained specialist support workers who understand how abusive behaviours present for our younger clients, including digital stalking and harassment.

The web chat option is one which is being pioneered by other domestic abuse services and has been launched successfully by Women’s Aid nationally, among others.

The uptake by women of this channel of communication shows that many women feel more comfortable initiating contact by typing on their phone or computer than by talking out loud.

Crucially, JWA will bring to this new service the same knowledge, understanding and sympathy of Jewish culture, faith and religious practice which underpins all the work we do to support women and girls in our community experiencing abuse.