Survivors. This is how we refer to women whose stories can give other women courage, if they face abuse, feel alone and don't know what do to. Through this project, we aim at creating local support groups and networks that can save lives. The first step is to trust that you too can do it!
A.L.E.G. is a nongovernmental organization working since 2004 to prevent and fight violence against women and children and to promote gender equality; it is based in Sibiu and unfolds both local and national activities. We offer psychological counselling services to family violence victims, women and children. Based on our beneficiaries’ needs, in the autumn of 2017, we came up with the idea of the campaign #SiEuReusesc. Find out more about us on our website: www.aleg-romania.eu. Local partners of the project at national level are Pas Alternativ Association (Brașov), Anais Association (Bucharest), Gr.Ab (Satu Mare) and #ȘiEuReușesc Cluj.
... the starting point of becoming free. The moment she tells herself that she too can do it, a domestic violence victim takes a first step towards becoming a survivor. It’s not an easy road, but it’s important for her to start walking it and, to this end, she needs support and examples of other women who have succeeded. Because we are stronger together, we support the creation of local support groups and give women the opportunity to share their experiences, to overcome their fears, and to grow stronger. Are you a survivor? Set up a support group in your city or take part in the meetings of an existing one.
‘For years, I never talked to anyone about my fears. I was worried nobody would understand, that we still live in a world of prejudice. Then, I found out about the #SiEuReusesc project and thought I could get a helping hand from women who had been through similar situations. I thought they could support me without judging me. In this community, I found an opportunity to get involved, to understand myself and other women, to leave the past behind. It was like my heart was revived. Now, we are sisters. And when the world becomes a burden, we have each other’, Elena says, one of the survivors who took part in last year’s personal development workshops and who still continues to help other women in the #SiEuReusesc Community in Bucharest.
The project #SiEuReusesc – Bucharest Community of Survivors, implemented by the Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender (A.L.E.G.), in partnership with ANAIS Association, is financially supported by the IKEA FUND for Gender Equality in 2020 as well, developed by the Bucharest Community Foundation and supported by IKEA Romania. Last year, in the framework of the project, we organized personal development workshops for violence survivors, workshops for children so they could understand their emotions and develop healthy relationships, media campaigns that brought the stories of survivors to the public space, meetings with specialists to ensure improved interventions in domestic violence cases.
In 2020, we will work towards improving the independence and solidarity within our peer support networks for women and children affected by domestic violence. The Bucharest #SiEuReusesc Community of Survivors establishes contacts between women who have overcome abusive situations and women who are taking the first steps on the path of living a violence-free life, by facilitating exchanges of information and practical help through online groups, as well as transforming experiences via support groups.
The COVID–19 pandemic has made it ever clearer how much we need support communities for women facing violence. We continued offering online and over-the-phone information, psychological and legal counselling to people faced inter partner violence, and through the survivor’s network involved survivors in helping other women and creating useful resources. Since the pandemic began, meetings with specialists have become a weekly event titled Aleg să vorbesc and taking place LIVE on the A.L.E.G./ȘiEuReușesc Facebook page every Tuesday at 6.30 p.m. The topics discussed are varied and based on the needs of the community: how to avoid panic, how to build resilience, and economic opportunities for women. Recordings are available here.
In May, we launched the psychological-educational #SiEuReusesc group for healthy relationships, coordinated by psychologist Cătălina David. This consists of a series of 10 online meetings aimed at supporting participants to find balance in themselves so that they can have balanced relationships with others – partner, children, parents, etc. Participants have the opportunity to learn to recognise the signs of an unhealthy relationship in due time, as well as make peace with themselves after being free from abuse. Each session is summarised in a video material published on the Si Eu Reusesc Facebook page.
ANAIS Association, the project’s local partner, makes available free psychological and legal counselling services to women who have faced abuse. At the same time, they still offer access to the already existent support group, integrating survivors trained as resource-persons during last year's #SiEuReusesc workshops, and engage in supervising survivors who help other women.
Based on our experience establishing #SiEuReusesc communities, we have elaborated a guide that describes the personal development process dedicated to violence survivors, so they learn to efficiently help other women without putting themselves at risk. The guide is available for download here. For more support materials, join our community here.
The Romanian experience of developing the #SiEuReusesc programme raised the interest of UN Women Moldova, alongside whom we started a partnership to offer mentorship to non‑governmental organizations in the Republic of Moldova and the positive champions involved in empowering women who face domestic violence. The programme is funded by the Embassy of Sweden and supported by the National Coalition “Life without violence”.
In order for everyone to remain safe, this year, the Romanian Survivors’ Forum – the annual event that brings together violence survivors – will be held online and will be an opportunity for sharing solidarity and resilience experiences through survivors’ communities, even in times of crisis. In autumn, other survivors who wish to join the Bucharest #SiEuReusesc Community will have the opportunity to go through the four personal development workshops. And because the pandemic is affecting the workplaces and the income of many women, we are specializing in the Banometru method and will integrate financial education in our training process, so that survivors are able to help other women better manage their personal budget and benefit from economic support on their journey to independence.
*The Bucharest #SiEuReusesc Community is a project organized by A.L.E.G. (www.aleg-romania.eu), supported through the IKEA FUND for Gender Equality, funded by IKEA Romania and managed by the Bucharest Community Foundation.
Most of the times, we don’t see the direct connection between money and domestic violence, but financial education can play an important role in the story of a survivor and can help her leave the abusive relationship or even help prevent abuse altogether. When a woman realizes she is in an abusive relationship and decides to leave, often times, her first concern is about money. Because they lack trust and experience, some women tend to look for low paid jobs. So, financial education contributes to their becoming independent, as it teaches them to save, cover for expenses, and plan for the future.
One of the main reasons why women stay in abusive relationships has to do with financial aspects. Throughout the relationship, the partner exerts control over the woman, prohibiting her to get a job, excluding her from financial decisions, holding her accountable for any small amount she may spend and sending her the message that she is worthless without him. This way, women lose their self-confidence and no longer feel like trying or believe that they could achieve anything.
#SiEuReuSesc Financial Education aims for economic empowerment to become one of the support methods offered by the survivors’ community through workshops highlighting the following:
- proper and rational money management,
- steps to avoid useless expenses and prioritize needs,
- the difference between needs and desires – decisions on how to spend one’s income,
- identifying internal income-generating resources,
- advantages and traps of the shopping/credit card,
- how to negotiate in critical situations,
- financial growth.
We believe that change starts with building the confidence that women can live independently, empowered by the example of other women and coaching and personal development experiences. For further details about the #SiEuReusesc Financial Education workshops or registrations, contact us at 0040 753 893 531 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Register if you wish to improve your financial approach, if you and your partner have never discussed the management of your family’s budget or if talking about income and expenses feels stressful.
You can also register by filling in this form https://forms.gle/6SerwZv8GTBcJ4uS7
On economic abuse: what is it? what are the signs? what to do?
Understanding economic abuse and classifying it as a form of domestic violence is an extremely important aspect in combating and preventing this phenomenon. Economic abuse is a way for a partner to control the other by using money. It is a tactic used by a partner to exert power and control over the other partner and is aimed at isolating the woman and making her feel completely dependent from a financial point of view. Through this type of dependence and control, the partner makes sure that the woman is forced to choose between staying in an abusive relationship or facing financial insecurity.
Economic violence can also manifest by:
- prohibiting the other to have their own independent income,
- holding them accountable for all their expenses, including asking that they justify these via receipts,
- withholding all their bank cards and emptying out joint accounts,
- not paying or irregularly paying for child support,
- forging signatures to take out loans,
- not contributing money for food, utilities, child support,
- using a recession/crisis/unemployment as a reason to justify their abusive behaviour.
Regaining control is a priority for us, so we wish to contribute to the economic empowerment of the women who have faced or are facing violence. By acquiring new financial knowledge, you will learn to draw up a personal budget and develop new skills to make better use of your resources, so that you become more financially independent.
#SiEuReusesc: Economic Empowerment of Women Who Have Faced Domestic Violence is a project organized by A.L.E.G. (www.aleg-romania.eu), with the involvement of Gr.Ab (https://grabsuport.ro/), funded by Fondul Banometru.
* Fondul BANOMETRU is a component of the BANOMETRU free and flexible programme aimed at people who encounter difficulties in managing their personal budget, unfolded by ARC, AEVR and ING Romania. Supported by a consultant, all those who have identified this issue are advised on how to draw up a financial plan that works to help them overcome the financial challenges they face.
UPDATE: 2020 Survivors' Forum Videos can be accessed here > https://www.facebook.com/watch/192365285011395/4015938351752160
The pandemic has made domestic violence worse, by isolating many women together with their perpetrators and making it harder for them to access classical intervention services. Thus, the communities of survivors - #ȘiEuReușesc communities - prove ever more valuable, as they allow women to talk safely and help each other, guided by experts in combating domestic violence and providing access to psychological, social and legal assistance.
The 2020 Survivors’ Forum, taking place online in 25-27 November, will present the local communities in Bucharest, Sibiu, Brașov, Satu Mare and Cluj-Napoca, which are managed by A.L.E.G. and experienced local partners. We will discuss the impact of the communities so far, the efforts made to replicate this model in the Republic of Moldova with the support of UN Women Moldova, the Coalition “Life without violence” and the Embassy of Sweden in Chișinău, as well as new financial empowerment activities supporting women to face the economic crisis.
Domestic violence is part of a broader phenomenon of violence against women, which is deeply rooted in sexism and often overlaps with other forms of discrimination, such as ethnic discrimination. Alongside Ioana Bauer, from the organization eLiberare, and Alina Ursu, a survivor who is part of the Brașov #ȘiEuReușesc community, on the second day of the Forum, we will tackle the issue of couple violence sometimes interweaving with organized crime and of women’s courage to not only escape abusive relationships, but also the hands of traffickers.
The event will be live streamed on the ȘiEuReușesc Facebook page, as followers will find out what this programme offers and how it helps to be part of such a community if you've ever faced violence. People wishing to support ȘiEuReușesc communities will find out what are the most burning needs from the viewpoint of survivors, themselves experts through their experience.
WEDNESDAY | NOVEMBER 25th
6 p.m.-7.15 p.m. | #ȘiEuReușesc communities in Romania
7.30 p.m.-8 p.m. | Impact of #ȘiEuReușesc in the Republic of Moldova
THURSDAY | NOVEMBER 26th
4 p.m.-4.50 p.m. | Domestic violence and human trafficking - intersecting vulnerabilities
5 p.m.-5.50 p.m. | Why is it important that women help each other?
6 p.m.-7 p.m. | The role of psychologists and support groups
FRIDAY | NOVEMBER 27th
4 p.m.-4.45 p.m. | Financial independence. Future outlooks
5 p.m.-5.30 p.m. | Bright Sky RO App: the importance of having access to support services
6 p.m.-7.30 p.m. | Survivor’s Resolution 2020
This year's edition is organized with financial support from the IKEA Fund for Gender Equality, managed by the Bucharest Community Foundation, from Vodafone Romania Foundation and in partnership with Ashoka Romania and Chapter4 Romania.
In Romania, the programme #ȘiEuReușesc is implemented by the Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender (A.L.E.G.), and present-day local partners are Pas Alternativ Association (Brașov), ANAIS Association (Bucharest), the #ȘiEuReușesc Cluj Community, Support Group for Abused Women - GR.AB (Satu Mare).
In Cluj-Napoca, too, women who have faced domestic violence can get involved in helping other women, alongside specialists. The programme Si Eu Reusesc Cluj launches a support group for women who have been or are going through domestic violence situations, supported by individual psychological counselling. The Si Eu Reusesc Cluj programme aims to establish a local community of survivors, in which they can share they stories as an example of resilience and trust for women who are still facing abuse. The #SiEuReusesc support group is designed to offer a safe space where survivors and the counsellors leading the group can provide help and social support to women still facing abuse or who are undergoing separation and reclaiming their psychological-emotional independence and security. The Cluj-Napoca community of survivors is coordinated by the Association for Liberty and Equality of Gender – A.L.E.G. and funded by the Vodafone Romania Foundation through the project Extending and strengthening the Si Eu Reusesc programme.
The programme is part of the national Survivors’ Network, an online communication group comprising more than 200 members from all around the country. The women who are part of the support group will be able to access local support and the national network, which offers thematic personal development meetings and events. A survivor telling her own story of overcoming violence gives other women trust and at the same time helps the survivor herself make peace with her past and find meaning. Whether shared as testimonials on the www.sieureusesc.rowebsite or as stories told confidentially during the support group, stories heal and create connections. Similar communities of survivors now exist in Sibiu, Brasov, Bucharest, and Satu Mare, and are managed by A.L.E.G. and experienced local partners.
#SiEuReusesc is a form of help for people who face domestic violence, which emphasizes peer support and completes the classic services provided by shelters or counselling centres, with which the programme aims to collaborate in order to maximize their long-term impact. The programme establishes connections between women who have overcome violence and women who still need help in order to do so, offering guidance from professional psychologists, social workers and legal advisors.
The support group is facilitated by a team made up of a counsellor and a psychotherapist and meets twice a month on Tuesdays (at 6 p.m.) for approximately two hours. Being part of the group is covered by anonymity, and confidentiality is an essential principle. To register in a group, click here.
‘In our communities, in order to be able to offer help efficiently, we emphasize the personal development process of the survivors, as well as specialized support. We organize personal development workshops during which women are informed about the causes and the effects of domestic violence and learn to help without imposing their own solutions to others’, says Cătălina Covaliu, local coordinator. Women facing violence benefit from double guidance, from trained survivors, as well as professionals. The moment she tells herself the she too can do it, a victim of violence makes a first step towards become a survivor, but she needs support and the examples of other women who have made it. Once she is safe and feels strong enough, she can learn to help other women in turn. This way, women who have faced violence benefit from long-term support, solidarity from a community to which they feel they belong, which is often hard to find in our society.
For information about the meetings of the Cluj-Napoca #SiEuReusesc community or other events, please contact us at email@example.com. For further details about the national programme, visit www.sieureusesc.ro.
“Brave together” is the belief that brought together the members of the Survivors’ Network in Bucharest, on the 7th of June, at the second edition of the Survivors’ Forum, initiated by A.L.E.G as meeting place for women who have been through domestic violence and are now willing to support other women who are going through abusive relationships.
Together with our 50 participants, we traveled through the history of the year past since our last Forum to see how the Program #ȘiEuReușesc (I can do it too) developed and to remember the milestones in which we gave each other power and support. One of the women that was helped by the Survivors’ Network is Ioana, and the Forum was her first encounter with Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and the first time she stayed in a hotel. Ioana is from a rural area and she lived for 20 years with a severely violent husband. She heard of the Network last year and wrote asking for help to several survivors whom she had seen on television. A survivor from Brașov helped her leave with her four children to a shelter where she could stay for a few days to decide what to do next. At the Forum they told the story of this movie-like rescue mission. Ioana had then decided that she would feel safer in another city, so a survivor from Sibiu helped her move, find a job and even a school for her children.
The apartment in which Ioana lives today was furnished and equipped after a call for donations made by the survivor from the network among her acquaintances – some brought a table, other blankets or dishes. A.L.E.G. volunteers offered to accompany the woman and her kids through the city and to help them get them familiar with the new place. Her husband continues to threaten her through the children he visits at school (which is why we cannot reveal her identity), but she took her own life in her hands and receives counselling for herself and the children. Ioana is an example of how the Survivors’ Network increases the chances of women to free themselves from violence by working along and beyond classical services (shelter, counselling centre), ensuring the added value of reassurance and inspiration that comes from other women who have overcome violent situations.
The network is steadily growing, and this year a project is being developed to build a #SiEuReusesc community in Bucharest. Women who have overcome violence can choose to engage in different roles in the network, depending on what suits her best:
If you would like to get involved in one of these roles or to help in some way, please send us a message at > firstname.lastname@example.org
“Why Survivor? This word responds best to our intention not to perceive women who face violence only as vulnerable and weak, but as women who also have an uncommon resistance, a force that if they come to use it not to suffer, but to get rid of violence, and later to help other women, can be invincible.” says project initiators.
The Romanian Survivors’ Forum (II) is an event organized by A.L.E.G. (www.aleg-romania.eu) supported by the IKEA Fund for Gender Equality, funded by IKEA Romania and managed by the Bucharest Community Foundation.
Local Partners: Pas Alternativ Association (Brașov), ANAIS Association (Bucharest) and GR.AB (Satu Mare)
More program details here: https://sieureusesc.ro/en