Fighting domestic violence is a critical need within our communities, though is still grossly under addressed. Its causes and effects are often ignored, the needed sincere and open discussions about solutions are scarce in most communities. Resources for affected families are limited, and many community leaders are still ill-equipped to deal with domestic abuse in their communities.
However, there is one dynamic organization working to both create and share programming aimed at affecting change in all areas impacting victims and survivors of domestic violence.
For those unfamiliar, the Peaceful Families Project (PFP) is a 501(c)(3) national organization with international reach. It devotes time and efforts towards educating about and preventing domestic violence.
Peaceful Families Project focuses on helping and educating Muslim communities and families of diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds. Their programming includes aspects of both prevention and intervention in its approach to community education and development.
Peaceful Families Project (PFP) is celebrating the appointment of a new President to the Board of Directors: Lina Hashem. Hashem graciously took some time out of her busy schedule to speak about her organization and explain the work they are doing there.
The Peaceful Families Project is excited to share the appointment of Lina Hashem as the president of our Board of…
In a public announcement, the Peaceful Families Project wrote: “Lina has been part of the team for two years and shares an energized passion for domestic violence prevention through shared and collaborative partnerships and programming.” Hashem explains she was originally prompted to get involved with the Peaceful Families Project because of what she saw as a vacuum in available services.
“Throughout my life, I heard of domestic violence (DV) issues in the community, but there was never a viable solution to get DV victims the help and support they needed,” Hashem says. “When I first heard about the Peaceful Families Project, the work that they do and the dedicated people behind it—Sharifa Alkhateeb, Salma Abugideiri, and Maha Alkhateeb—I knew right away that I wanted to support their work whether it was providing financial support or letting others know that PFP exists as a great resource for communities to take advantage of.”
Fighting the Challenges
Lina shares that PFP is working to close the gap in services. They’re addressing some of the biggest roadblocks to eradicating domestic violence in Muslim communities. Some major challenges they encounter include:
- Lack of open communication regarding the manifestations of domestic abuse in all its forms: verbal, emotional, spiritual, sexual, social, physical, and financial.
- Lack of dialog about domestic abuse causes and cures.
- Inadequate use, or complete lack, of appropriate resources.
- Shortage of professionally trained individuals to deal with the issue by properly assisting victims. There are also not enough professionals working toward preventing domestic abuse.
- Misunderstanding of Islamic teachings often confused with cultural norms. These misunderstandings usually support dynamics such as male superiority and domination in relationships or rigid gender roles, all contributing to domestic abuse.
PFP programming aims to address both prevention and intervention in its community education, program development, training, technical help, and research. Their website states that their programming supports a “[…] holistic approach to addressing domestic violence through collaboration with faith and community leaders, community members, social service professionals, activists, educators, mental health providers, medical professionals, attorneys, and youth leaders.”
Trainers & participants smiling away at the Training!
Most Impactful Programs Fighting Domestic Violence
With so much focus on community leader engagement, it’s no surprise that Hashem says their most impactful programs are ones that both increase their reach and educate community stakeholders. They aim to reach leaders in the community most likely to be put in a position of counseling families where there is a domestic abuse dynamic.
“Education is key,” Hashem insists. “I hope Muslim communities become more open to learning about domestic violence prevention so they can provide support to victims of DV.”
The Peaceful Families Project’s most impactful training is their National Imam and Chaplain training. It’s an important program because Imams, Chaplains, and community leaders are not already well-equipped with the knowledge they need to help DV victims.
Although, it may not be practical in all cases, it would be incredibly impactful for communities to make it mandatory for the leaders in their mosques or centers to take the trainings PFP offers so they can provide the support needed to DV victims.” -Lina Hashem, President of the Board of Directors, Peaceful Families Project
Peaceful Families Project Achievements
So far this year, the Peaceful Families Project achieved:
- Imam trainings. Imams and chaplains are often the first responders when domestic violence and abuse affects families. Their website states, “PFP one- and two-day workshops offer Imams and chaplains the opportunity to increase their knowledge regarding the prevalence, dynamics and impact of domestic violence, and best practices for responding effectively.”
- Train the Trainer Program which is getting more trainers to lead programs across the country. This means positive growth and social change! More trainers mean greater access and increased impact on the Muslim community.
- Curriculum (for both youth and trainers). PFP published training materials on domestic violence in the Muslim community to be used as a resource for Imams, leaders, and activists to educate the community on how to prevent DV.
But working with national and international organizations is not without its difficulties. While partnering with international organizations, some challenges PFP experiences include:
- Cultural gaps and culturally biased expectations.
- Fewer resources with different modes of access.
- More stigma around DV and seeking help due to cultural pressures.
While it’s an uphill battle in many ways, Hashem is confident that the groundwork Peaceful Families Project is laying now will have big impacts in the future!
If you or someone you know suspects domestic abuse, Hashem has this advice:
Look up local domestic violence services. Consider calling the National DV Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE. Seek professional help from your local domestic violence service providers and/or shelters and try to find community support. Help for domestic violence may be free of charge and is always confidential. If it’s a crisis situation, call 911 if you or anyone else is in danger.”
Want to learn more about the Peaceful Families Project and their available trainings? Visit their website: https://www.peacefulfamilies.org/