|Naomi Ackerman presents her one-woman play about domestic violence to an audience of Frisch students.|
How do you get more than 300 high-school juniors and seniors to sit in absolute silence for 45 minutes? If you are the American-born Israeli actress Naomi Ackerman, it’s easy. Ackerman presented her one-woman play “When Flowers Aren’t Enough” to the junior and senior classes at The Frisch School in Paramus on Nov. 10.
A monologue, it tells the story of a young woman, Michal, as she meets, dates, and marries the man of her dreams. Along the way, Michal describes the abuse she endures, verbal at first, which quickly escalates to physical violence.
Michal describes the cycle of violence, in which a violent outburst is followed by apologies and contrition and soon by denial and then by the next violent episode.
In the discussion sessions that followed, students broke into small groups, each led by social workers and professional staff members from Project S.A.R.A.H. (Stop Abusive Relationships at Home). The questions always came up: “Why didn’t she see it coming? Why didn’t she leave him?”
Those questions are at the core of the work that Project S.A.R.A.H., the state-wide program to address issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse in the Jewish community, has been doing in New Jersey since its founding in 1996. The character Michal expresses the classic responses of people who are in abusive relationships: denial, disbelief, and even guilt, which leads her to be isolated from her friends and family.
Each year Project S.A.R.A.H. facilitates discussion groups following the play, which is presented at different New Jersey schools, to help educate students about domestic violence and to reach out to those who may be affected. Information about Project S.A.R.A.H. can be found at www.projectsarah.org or from the Jewish Family Service of Clifton at (973) 777-7638.