A SAFE HAVEN
In partnership with: Il Cerchio delle Relazioni
It may be the women’s century, as we are lead to believe, but in far too many cases women are still not safe, not even in their own homes.
The Safe Haven project is for these women, victims of domestic violence and stalking. It offers them a safe place to live, the first home of its kind in Liguria.
“We can all make a difference” Bank Ki-moon, Ex-Secretary General of the United Nations, said.
In this spirit, Costa Crociere Foundation is doing what it can to support projects that will make a huge difference to someone’s life, projects like the A Safe Haven project.
The statistics for domestic abuse are dramatic. ISTAT reports that 31% of Italian women aged 16 to 70 were victims of domestic violence in 2014 but less than 5% contacted a women’s aid service for help. Victims normally reach the decision to leave their violent partner only after it has finally been recognized that they have been the victim of violence. In other cases, the police separate the woman from her partner in order to protect her.
Under current legislation, very seldom is it possible for the violent partner to be removed from the home: as a result, the only choice victims have is to move out and find somewhere else to live.
This presents a whole new set of problems. In Genova in particular, home city to Il Cerchio delle Relazioni, there are very few places offering refuge to victims of domestic abuse.
In an emergency, social services are the first to intervene. They will place the woman in a low-grade hotel, especially when the woman has a dependent child with her. Escaping a traumatic situation, with the added difficulty of having little money to pay rent, then finding yourself in a strange and anonymous place like a budget hotel, often pushes women to make the difficult decision, with even more difficult consequences, of returning home.
To address the issues outlined above, the Safe Haven project would like to create a more secure route out of a violent situation, offering a safe place to live and the financial resources to survive the early months of their new life. The support offered also extends to the children of victims and includes specialist psychological support to restore their hope in being able to build a better future.
The Safe Haven project was set up to achieve three major goals: to raise the number of emergency refuges for abused women; to extend aid in existing hostels; to help women trying to support themselves financially by paying their first few months’ rent and utility bills.
The underlying aim is therefore to facilitate the progression towards self-sufficiency.
With respect to the first goal, free use of an apartment has been obtained from the Evangelico International Hospital: it has space for two women or one woman with two children. Costa Crociere Foundation’s support was instrumental in guaranteeing this initial stage.
Regarding the provision of internal specialist support, the project plans to provide an educational psychologist to counsel the children of abused women.
Very often, through no fault of their own, the children are forced into a highly distressing situation. They have to get used to living somewhere that’s not their home and may also be forced to change schools to keep their location secret.
In parallel with this, the women also need counselling and guidance to help them plan for their future after years at home, isolated from the outside world. A Safe Haven will also enlist the specialist support of a cultural mediator for non-Italian victims: having an interpreter who speaks your language can, in fact, be vital in facing legal issues as well extremely reassuring at a difficult time and when it’s essential to rebuild trust and hope that a new future is within reach.