Jewish Women’s Aid has launched #AMaskWontProtectHer to draw attention to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic abuse in the Jewish community. The campaign encompasses the charity’s annual cross-communal Shabbat, taking place this weekend, a virtual event hosted by broadcaster Emma Barnett next Thursday and a fundraising appeal.

The activities also tie in with the international 16 Days of Activism to counter violence against women, which begins on 25 November and is marked across the world.

#AMaskWontProtectHer campaign

Jewish Women’s Aid released figures from April to September – during which they supported 545 women and children - showing the ongoing detrimental impact of the pandemic on Jewish women experiencing domestic abuse, including:


  • Six months into the pandemic, we have seen a continued and significant impact on women reaching out to us for help, both in terms of the number of women affected by domestic abuse, and the specific impact of measures intended to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
  • Every month since April, we’ve supported higher numbers of women than the same month the previous year, and there is no doubt this is due to the pandemic.
  • In June, we supported 150 women, which is 22% higher than the same month last year, and the need for counselling increased by 28% in July, when we were providing free professional therapeutic sessions to 74 women.
  • Our three children’s therapists have provided 167 children's therapy sessions, a rise of 67% from the same period in 2019. We have also supported 30% more children during this time.
  • For the first time ever, Jewish Women’s Aid set up an emergency welfare grant fund to provide basic items that women were struggling to pay for. We have distributed almost £20,000 in grants, including for food, nappies, money for an electric meter and replacement of a broken fridge.
    • We also provided resources to enable children to participate in distance learning when schools were closed and grants in half term for families eligible for free school meals.
    • This financial hardship is directly linked to economic abuse as well as job losses and an inability to access work because of the pandemic, as well as delays to welfare benefits claims, also caused by the pandemic.

 The summary also identifies common patterns of abuse during the pandemic witnessed by domestic abuse support workers, counsellors and helpliners:

  • More time at home with their abuser, leading to increased physical and psychological aggression
  • The abuser increasing their surveillance of the woman’s every movement or action
  • Difficulty accessing support due to constant presence of the abuser at home
  • Difficulty leaving the abuser because of added uncertainty of the pandemic
  • Fewer options for reaching out to friends and family and seeing them privately, face to face
  • Disruption of wider support services, including housing, legal, welfare benefits
  • Children witnessing more abuse and experiencing increased trauma
  • Increased economic abuse triggered by women losing their job and becoming more financially dependent on their abuser, or abusers losing their job and then becoming more abusive towards their partner
  • Hugely increased levels of anxiety

JWA has launched a fundraising appeal to ensure that the charity is able to continue to meet the need in the community in an ongoing uncertain economic climate.

CEO Naomi Dickson: “In my 18 years of involvement with Jewish Women’s Aid, there has never been a time when external societal conditions have had such a negative effect on women experiencing domestic abuse. Abusers are manipulating well-intended anti-Covid measures to control and torment Jewish women. Our dedicated staff are doing everything they can to support the increasing number of women and their children but we need our community to take collective responsibility for making sure that women feel they can reach out for support.”

Client Services Manager Karen Lewis: “We’re experiencing two conflicting trends at the moment – on the one hand we’ve got a rise in the number of women asking for our support, but on the other hand, we know from the national picture that there are even more barriers to doing just that. We need to be prepared for when these women are finally able to reach out.”

Jewish Women’s Aid Shabbat – 20/21 November

Jewish Women’s Aid Shabbat 2020 is supported by Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis (JWA’s patron), United Synagogue, Reform Judaism, Liberal Judaism, Masorti, S&P Sephardi Community, the Board of Deputies and the JLC. All organisations have received a pack of resources, which they have agreed to share with their rabbis and communities. The pack contains: an article for a shul newsletter and accompanying image, information that can be used in a sermon and a social media image for the shul’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A representative for each organisation has also been invited to make a short video to raise awareness of domestic abuse, for sharing on social media.

The purpose of the event is to raise awareness of the issue of domestic abuse and sexual violence in the Jewish community, make clear that it is wholly unacceptable and send a clear message of support to affected women.

Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, Patron of Jewish Women’s Aid, said, “I would like to express my full support for the efforts of Jewish Women’s Aid to highlight the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on domestic violence within Jewish homes. We would like to believe that such illegal and shameful conduct does not afflict our Jewish community. Sadly, however, that’s not the reality. Prior to the pandemic there was a very real problem with domestic abuse within Jewish homes and during the pandemic we have seen a tragic increase in this phenomenon.”


EVENT: Lockdown Unmasked: Hosted by Emma Barnett (26 November)

In this free online event, broadcaster and journalist Emma Barnett will be in conversation with bestselling author Noreena Hertz and Designate Domestic Abuse Commissioner Nicole Jacobs, as they discuss the impact of the pandemic on women experiencing domestic abuse.

Over 270 people have registered to attend so far.

More details: