Stop Indifference to Gender-Based Violence!

Article from the Province of Italy/Malta.

The Centro delle Donne Libere dalla Violenza (Center for Women Free from Violence) in Quinto di Treviso, Italy – supported by the Province’s Welcome House Domus Nostra (in Italian), in partnership with the cooperative La Esse in Treviso – celebrated its first anniversary on December 10, 2021, by holding an open day. Opening its doors to the public, it shared the outcomes of the many activities carried out despite the restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

Sister Teresa, Director of Domus Nostra, Francesca Dettori, President of the cooperative La Esse, and other members of the center’s anti-violence team.

Working with each woman to create a personalized action plan for her, the center offers the following support in cooperation with a network of services:

  • Central telephone helpline offering initial information and advice to women, family members, and other service providers in the area.
  • Hospitality and advice to jointly review the woman’s situation, assess the risks to her safety, and build a personalized empowerment action plan in partnership with her.
  • Support available includes legal advice; psychological counseling; group assistance and support to share, exchange and untangle the story of violence; parenting support; job-search assistance; safety and protection in case of danger; and linguistic and cultural mediation.

The center plays a vital role in offering training and raising awareness in the local area to increase prevention and promote a culture of equality and respect for the dignity of women, including through the careful and relevant use of supporting materials (conferences, webinars, training seminars, round table sessions, social media management, videos).

Since opening in April 2020, the center has supported more than:

  • 160 women, both Italian and non-nationals, who have requested information, support, and advice;
  • 86 women, of whom 59 had children, who have started a rehabilitation process to break free from violence;
  • 32 women who have benefited from legal advice;
  • 27 women who have received psychological support.

In addition, the children of these women – who are also victims who have witnessed violence – have been involved in some of Domus Nostra’s “Sogni Liberati” (Freed Dreams) workshops. These are aimed at the children of the women living in Domus Nostra and include public initiatives and activities in local schools to raise awareness of gender and domestic violence and of witnessing violence.

The Centro delle Donne Libere dalla Violenza receives financial support from the Region of Veneto through fundraising campaigns that focus energies and foster cultural exchange. In Italy and worldwide, violence against women remains a hidden phenomenon. The ongoing campaign #Guardacheciriguarda is currently raising awareness on funding*.

The work of the center’s team is based on a clear premise: gender-based violence does not follow pre-established standards; it affects all nationalities, ages, and social classes – regardless of the level of education.

Dr. Claudia Ceccarello, the center’s coordinator, stated in an article (in Italian) that was published at the end of December in the Diocese of Treviso’s weekly magazine La Vita del Popolo:

“We see women of all ages in our center. Often young girls who have been victims of stalking and related acts of harassment. But there are also women who have been victims of online financial or sexual violence. And the most widespread is psychological violence, arising from threats, constant criticisms, and insults: this has a huge impact at the emotional level, it blocks people, making them feel inferior and unworthy of having other opportunities”.

The Province of Italy/Malta’s commitment in favor of women exposed to gender and domestic violence is outlined in the Challenges and Programs of the Strategic Plan 2018-2022 that urge us to become artisans of fraternity and hospitality, among which stand out the operational guidelines to reopen paths to life and dignity for girls, women, children, adolescents, and migrants overwhelmed by spirals of widespread violence.”

Reflections and insights on the topic of violence against women are available on the Province’s website (in Italian or English), in particular in the Taking a Stand section for November and December 2020.

In March 2021, in line with the Congregation’s Position Papers and on the occasion of the UN Assembly’s CSW65 Session on the Commission on the Status of Women, the Province submitted a summary of its efforts in the specially created video “Whatever It Takes – Stop Indifference.”

*The #guardacheciriguarda online fundraising campaign runs until the end of March 2022. You can donate by credit card or PayPal: