The Authority for the Advancement of the Status of Women in Israel has a new target for their anti-domestic violence public service announcements now showing on major TV channels: men.

After years of encouraging women to call the 118 hotline to avoid continuing domestic violence or to find a safe shelter, the AASWI wants men to take responsibility and get help before they become abusive.

The shift is part of a worldwide trend to force men to take responsibility for domestic violence, rather than placing the burden on the victim to seek help.

The joint initiative from the AASWI, a division of the Prime Minister’s Office, the Health Ministry, Immigrant Absorption Ministry and the Welfare and Social Services Ministry wants to increase awareness of behavior that could become abusive. The AASWI wants men to recognize what constitutes as verbal abuse and to seek help before it degenerates into physical abuse.

“We need to find creative ways to increase the calls from men as well,” said Vered Swid, the organization’s director-general.

When men call the 118 number and ask for assistance, social workers can direct them to a variety of different services, including support groups, anger management courses, therapy, or temporary apartments to allow a “cooling off period” that enables the woman and children to stay at home rather than deal with a shelter.

“People are always asking, why didn’t she complain?” Swid said on Wednesday, a week after the PSA campaign’s three-week run on Channel 2. “We’re saying it’s the responsibility of two people to get help in order to break the cycle of violence.”

She also recommended that children of abusive relationships who are struggling in their own marriages call for assistance, since children who witnessed abuse or were abused can find themselves inadvertently making the same mistakes.

Swid noted that while men are not always the abusive partner in the relationship, the PSAs are directed towards men in order to change public perception.

Since the campaign began last week, the 118 hotline, which operates around the clock, received 15 times the normal amount of phone calls.

“Men have to be part of the social change,” Swid said. “Violence is a problem of the entire society.”

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