A SAFE HAVEN
In partnership with: Il Cerchio delle Relazioni
Even though it is common opinion that ours should be the century of women, there are still too many cases in which they do not even feel safe at home.
The project A safe haven addresses women who fell victim to domestic violence and stalking. It is the first centre in Liguria that provides these women with a safe place to stay.
“Each one of us can make the difference.” In resonance with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s words, Costa Crociere Foundation is in the front line in supporting projects that have a deep social impact such as A safe haven.
The numbers on the issue of gender violence are alarming. According to ISTAT, in 2014 31% of Italian women aged between 16 and 70 fell victim to it, but less than 5% went to an anti-violence center. As a rule, victims decide to leave their violent partner only after a long process of recognition of violence. In other cases, the police have to force the separation so as to ensure the woman’s safety.
However, according to the current laws, the situations in which it is possible to evict the partner responsible for the violence are infrequent. As a consequence, women are left with the only possibility of moving to a different area.
At this stage, obstacles and problems related to accommodation arise. In the specific case of Genoa, the city where Il Cerchio delle Relazioni has been working, the facilities that can host women who fell victim to violence are missing. When an emergency occurs, social services are the first to intervene and provide accommodation in hotels below standard, particularly in the most serious cases when a child is present along with the woman. Getting out of a difficult situation – often in very unstable financial conditions which do not enable to pay for the rent – and being presented with an unknown context such as that of a hotel leads women to decide to go back to their original home with the obvious problems that this entails.
Starting from such premises, A safe haven aims to give stability to the path out of violence by providing women with a safe home and financial resources which will be necessary to cover the expenses during the first months in the new home. The support will also be extended to the women’s children and include psychology sessions that can restore hope for a better future.
The project A safe haven is structured along three main points: to increase the number of emergency facilities for women who fell victim to violence; to strengthen the support services within the existing facilities; to help women to achieve economic independence by paying for the rent and bills in the first few months. Such actions will help to pave the way to complete autonomy.
With regard to the first point, an apartment has already been found which will be leased free of charge by Ospedale Evangelico Internazionale. It can host two women or, in alternative, a woman and two children. Costa Crociere Foundation’s support has guaranteed the reliability required in this initial stage. In order to strengthen the psychological and educational services provided, A safe haven intends to dedicate specific support through an education specialist who will be speaking with the women’s children who are often experiencing a situation of great emotional distress.
As a matter of fact, on the one hand they have to become accustomed to living in a house that is located far from their previous home, while on the other hand they are forced to move to a different school in order to keep their new accommodation secret.
At the same time, psychological sessions will be needed to help women to reflect on their future after years spent without any contacts with society. A safe haven will also use a cultural mediator when the women victim to violence are not Italian.
Along with the importance of language assistance as far as legal matters are concerned, talking to someone who can speak one’s own language can help to create closeness and contribute to restore the confidence that is necessary to rebuild one’s future and find hope in life again.