Psychological help to women who have experienced Intimate partner violence and to children who have witnessed IPV
Grant recipient: Ulica Mira
Project: to deliver psychological help to women who have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and to children who have witnessed IPV. This project was jointly funded by Help Impact. Help Impact helps disadvantaged young people anywhere in the world.
The charitable non-governmental organisation “Ulitca Mira” has been working in St. Petersburg since 2000. Our programmes are aimed at psychological rehabilitation and social integration of children and youth from groups of social risk, support to families in crisis and to child and adult victims of abuse.
Our main objectives are: provide social and psychological support to at-risk children and their families, provide psychological help and support to children and adults who have experienced abuse, provide circus training as an alternative to life on the streets, educational support and assistance.
In September 2019 in cooperation with BEARR Trust and Help Impact Foundation we started a new project, aimed at psychological help to women who have experienced Intimate partner violence and to children who have witnessed IPV.
The project benefitted 12 women in abusive relationships, 4 teenage girls and 10 children who live in households with IPV. It continued for 24 weeks from September 2019 to February 2020 and included Individual psychotherapy for women-victims of IPV and for children-witnesses to IPV, family counselling and support: family sessions for women and children, affected by domestic violence, one weekly 2-hour group for children-witnesses to domestic (intimate partner) violence, social support to women and children, affected by domestic violence, one 3-hour bi-weekly training and supervision group for volunteers at Helpline for Youth Problems, aimed at enhancement of skills needed for psychological support to children and teens who have experienced domestic abuse or witnessed IPV and for their referral to the programme.
Intimate partner violence and gender-related abuse is an acute and widespread problem in Russia. Around 35 % of women have experienced physical and sexual abuse in their families and within the relationship. At the same time, women and younger girls who’ve suffered from IPV are one of the most stigmatized and vulnerable groups in Russia. Yet there are very few organizations that provide support specifically to women and girls, and there is an acute shortage of programmes aimed at psychological help to victims of IPV. It is also a challenge for NGOs working with children to help ensure their safety in households with domestic violence, and that requires extensive work with their mothers. This project was specifically designed to help women and their children overcome psychological consequences of abuse and targets specific issues faced by victims of IPV that undermine their ability to break out of the abusive relationship.
The grant allowed us to provide free and specialized psychological help and therapy to girls and women—victims of Intimate Partner Violence and to children who have witnessed domestic violence and have suffered from abuse themselves.
Within the framework of the project 12 women (23—55 years old), 4 teenage girls (15—19 years old) and 2 children (9 years old) participated in an individual psychotherapy, 8 children (8—13 years old) participated in a weekly group therapy, and 2 families took part in family therapy. 5 women came for a single consultation and were either referred to an emergency safe house shelters and for legal help, or didn’t enter therapy.
During the course of the project 182 individual therapy sessions for women and teens and 46 group sessions for children were conducted. As the result of the project, participating women and girls in abusive relationships came up with safety plans and skills to confront the abuse and protect themselves from it, many have ended the relationships and got support and therapy needed to cope with emotional, behavioral and cognitive consequences of abuse or trauma-related symptoms. They were also provided all necessary information about available legal and social support, some were referred to relevant agencies and organizations and got the required assistance.
Women who suffered Intimate partner violence in the past got professional help needed to overcome the psychological consequences of abuse and lower the risk of re-victimization.
Emotional wellbeing of participating children who witnessed domestic violence and suffered from it improved, their coping skills were enhanced. Their families also got psychological and social support needed to ensure their safety in the future.
16 volunteers-counselors of Helpline for Teenage and Youth Problems have acquired information and skills in regard to IPV/domestic violence and support to victims.
The project also resulted in new partnerships and cooperation with organizations and crisis centers that help victims of domestic violence: three of those in Saint-Petersburg, two in Moscow and the regional network that helps women in crisis. They helped spread the information about the programme and the available help, referred women and provided shelter or legal and social support to our clients.
Anna Raskina, The Chair of the Board: “The main problem we have encountered was the low motivation and difficulties women-victims of intimate partner violence experience with reaching out for help. Many women in Russia who are suffering from domestic violence feel ashamed and guilty, and hesitate to disclose the abuse. Many do not believe that their situation can be resolved and that there is any point to reach out for help. These attitudes are often reinforced by prior experience: their reporting of abuse to police didn’t result in any actions or protection on behalf of law enforcement agencies, their friends or family did not support them and often blamed them for the ongoing abuse, while governmental agencies provided little to no social support. Many women feel that they can not leave the abuser because they have nowhere to go, are financially dependent on him and have children together. Reaching out for psychological help then seems scary as it implies acknowledgement of the problem and the need to take further steps. It turned out that most women who came for help were not ready or willing to participate in group work due to emotional strain of abuse, shame and guilt they feel for it.
Thanks to the project our organization had an opportunity to bring up the problem of Intimate partner violence in Russia, and talk about it and its consequences for women and children to both wider public and professional community. The project led to publications on both social media and in the periodicals, we talked about the scope of the problem and needed steps on the radio.
We also hope that cooperation with other professionals and projects in the field will enhance the quality and scope of psychological and social help in the future and aid in bringing about much needed changes in both attitudes and practices that are common in Russia. Currently, we continue the work we started with this project and hope to sustain it in the future. We also hope that we will continue our work with children who have witnessed intimate partner violence, and talk about it publicly, because traumatic effects that IPV has on children are often overlooked by both the public and professionals”.
Fundraising and PR Manager
Ulica Mira, St. Petersburg
Tel: +7 (911) 226-46-59