Step 3: Remobilisation

Women facing domestic violence have lost their confidence in themselves and in the world around them. They have lost their bearings and are very often isolated. Assessing themselves on a CV and selling themselves at an interview can seem insurmountable. So, before developing a professional project, these women need to regain their self-esteem and their confidence in others.

The ACTIV project aims to give tools to those working in the field and to companies so that they can listen to the women, accept their words and above all believe them. Later, when the women are ready, those involved can think about support and the construction of places where they can exchange with each other and acquire new skills. Field workers and companies can promote remobilisation by organising empowerment workshops. For example, giving them the means to express their opinion, teaching them to manage a budget, self-defence activities, etc.

Objectives

Empowerment and remobilisation are very important steps in the socio-professional (re)integration of women victims of domestic violence. Indeed, it is a process of transformation that will result in a better self-esteem; women will learn new things and acquire new skills that will help them to break the social, professional and family isolation and give them the tools to be part of a group, of the community, to relearn how to live on a daily basis and to envisage a future in which they will be able to secure financial stability.

Empowerment and remobilisation take place in two ways: firstly through participation in psychological counselling sessions, but also through group coaching sessions where women develop independent living skills.

In the group coaching sessions, women are encouraged to express their opinions, to determine their own choices and their right to influence social change for themselves and for others. They will eventually become aware of their self-worth and understand that they can achieve more than they
think.

Different topics can be covered to develop independent living skills. Please note that these activities do not replace the counselling they need to deal with the deeper issues related to the violence they have experienced. The main topics covered are the following:

  • Benefits and support for people in difficulty, specific to each country,
  • Managing your own budget,
  • Health and nutrition,
  • Assisting to parenting,
  • Sexual education,
  • Prevent abuse,
  • Values, citizenship and public space,
  • Mobility issues.

Challenges for the field workers

Women who wish to enrol in the programme (group coaching sessions) must be willing and able to work in a group. They must feel ready (psychologically but also in terms of availability) to commit to a process for a relatively long period of time. For this reason, the field worker needs to have a checkbox or selection grid to assess priorities and motivations.

Depending on the funding of these activities, the number of women accepted into the group should be limited. Therefore, the selection process must result in a balanced group of women who will be able to successfully complete the programme.

The programme aims to meet the needs of women. Therefore, although the content is predefined, it should be flexible enough to adapt to the group.

The duration of the programme should also be adapted to the reality of the women. It should be long enough to allow each participant to develop at her own pace.

Finally, to be successful, women must attend the programme until the end and participate in all the activities offered. The challenge for the field workers is to motivate and convince the women to stay until the end.

I'm going to tell you about a situation that I know well, for example, a young woman of 25 years whose husband forced her to leave its job, she was a sales assistant in a bakery, so she ended up staying with us because there was a lot of violence. It took her almost a year and a half to get out of the situation and today she is ready to return. Even thoughshe is very well integrated that she had all the skills to do so, she still had to take a break of a year and a half to rebuild herself and regain her self-confidence. These are very long paths to reintegration.»

Social worker

Resources for the field workers

How to help empower a woman confronted with domestic violence?

This tool helps to define the concept of empowerment. It is intended to help those working in the
field to apply this concept to the support of women victims of violence.

Available here.

Challenges for companies

In order to help companies to develop more actions in favour of women facing domestic violence, it may be necessary to create a broad movement, to communicate widely and externally about the actions they are implementing in order to encourage other companies to get involved. Being part of a network can help companies to collaborate on a peer-to-peer basis, share good practice, etc.

Two types of employers will be discussed here:

  • Companies that are already aware of the issue and wish to go further in their commitment.
  • Companies that do not have any tools at their disposal and wish to commit themselves to their employees.
  • The aim is to establish an action plan with them and explain how they can make a difference in supporting their employees.

It is important to define an action plan with the company to explain the first steps to be taken. To do this, the company can turn to a specialised player (OneInThreeWomen network, CEASE network) or to other peers (sharing good practices). Different kinds of actions can be initiated:

  • training of strategic personnel (social worker, manager, HR, staff representative, etc.).
  • introducing special measures: geographical flexibility, flexible working hours, financial aid,
    housing support, etc.
  • collaborating with other stakeholders: trade unions and staff representatives (taking account of domestic violence in company agreements), partnerships with associations
  • providing training (for all staff) or financial support, etc.

It could also be relevant to define a trusted person within the company who will act as a link between the woman and the organisation/management of the company. This person should have the following skills:

  • Be tolerant.
  • Be a good listener
  • Be empathetic and caring.
  • Be flexible.
  • Respect anonymity if requested and manage confidentiality.
  • Ensure the protection of women.
In addition, it is important to offer practical and psychological support to staff who are in direct contact with women confronting DV, and may hence be in risk of suffering indirectly or directly from that violence e.g. absenteeism causing added stress for colleagues and line managers, or indeed the danger of a perpetrator showing up at the workplace with aggressive behaviour.

A woman confronted with DV

This is not just theatre, it is a transformative experience. One of the keys to the model is the tandem formed by the artist who leads the creative process and the social worker who accompanies the process of empowerment. We both have a complementary and essential role to help create a safe space in which participants can express themselves freely, and build a commitment with the group that materialises in the stage.

Social Intergrator responsable for the project, Gabriela Ripari (From a Press release)

Resources for the field workers

How to implement an action plan?

This guide can help employers and companies to:

  • Lift the taboo of domestic violence in the workplace.
  • Welcome women who are confronted with domestic violence.
  • Develop good practices to respond, at your level, to this societal issue.

Available here.

What skills and knowledge should the trusted person in a company have?

A trusted person or resource person listens to and advises workers on well-being in the workplace and the prevention of psychosocial risks. Find out more on their skills on this booklet.

Available here.