Violence against women and their children occurs across the world in various cultures and affects people irrespective of class, race or level of education of the people concerned. Domestic violence is any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another. The purpose of domestic violence is to establish and exert power and control over another. It allows the perpetrator to gain control of the victim through fear and intimidation. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and threatening behaviors that may include physical, emotional, economic and sexual violence as well as intimidation, isolation and coercion. Violence committed within the family has been usually considered as a private family matter that does not need to involve society, police or government. The problem of domestic violence is not specific to a nation or country the whole world looks for effective means for combating it. Armenia is not an exception among other countries of the world where domestic violence exists in all its types.
It is more than 22 years that Women’s Rights Center works on domestic violence in three directions: law enforcement, supportive services and raising awareness and educational campaigns manifesting holistic approach to the problem. The purpose of these combined activities is prevention of domestic violence in the country, protection of women survivors subjected to domestic violence and their children and prosecution of perpetrators.
Provision of Supportive Services for Combating Domestic Violence
WRC is implementing supportive services such as organizing trainings for WRC beneficiaries as well as for women interested in their human rights, particularly in the right to be free from violence, and organizing trainings for Police officers on Domestic Violence. WRC is also planning to organize trainings for women, women survivors subjected to domestic violence and Police officers in some regions of Armenia and in Yerevan which will end with round table discussions and writing recommendations. Besides this, under the funding from the European Union, Women’s Rights Center (WRC) is taking awareness raising actions through the series of the TV program named “Talks about women’s rights'' on Shant TV.
Women’s Rights Center (WRC) services are free of charge and aimed at revealing cases of domestic violence and providing adequate assistance to women survivors subjected to domestic violence and their children. From 1997 WRC has launched the National Hot Line service providing free psychological counseling and legal assistance to the women survivors subjected to domestic violence and their children. When counseling by phone is not enough, they are invited to the WRC Crisis Center for provision of face to face psychological counseling, legal assistance, attorney’s support in court, in case of need. Confidentiality is the primary and the most important principle according to which the National Hot Line and WRC Crisis Center services are provided.
National Hot Line Service is operated by WRC psychologists and lawyer and provides the first and immediate support to the applicant. The calls are received not only from Yerevan but from other regions of Armenia as well. WRC psychologists and llawyer provide free psychological counseling, legal assistance to women survivors subjected to domestic violence and their children by phone. Moreover, the service has an informative significance for attaining information on domestic violence in Armenia. It helps to understand the causes and peculiarities of domestic violence and, consequently, to take appropriate precautions and safety measures and to provide adequate assistance to domestic violence victims in future. Considering the fact that the majority of cases can have progressive character, the National Hot Line Service provides ongoing psychological counseling and legal assistance. The first psychological counseling is provided to the caller regardless of the nature of issue. When a caller is already identified as a survivor subjected to domestic violence, she is provided with the full range of services.
WRC Crisis Center
Taking into consideration different circumstances, there are cases when counseling through the National Hot Line service is not enough to provide efficient assistance to women survivors subjected to domestic violence. There are cases when the situation is so complicated that face to face meetings are extremely important. Therefore, women survivors subjected to domestic violence and their children are invited to WRC Crisis Center for provision of individual psychological counseling, legal assistance, and attorney’s support in court in case of need. Within the framework of comprehensive approach WRC also provides women with legal counseling and assistance, legal consultation on women's rights, composition of necessary complaints, claims, and allegations. It is also worth mentioning that during in the instituted quarantine regime in the country WRC ensured operation of Women's Crisis Center Services with the provision of online psychological counseling and legal assistance, organization of Women’s Support Group and Children Support Group online meetings correspondingly.
Women’s Support Group
Women’s Support Group (WSG) meetings are held for women survivors subjected to domestic violence who have applied to WRC services. The Support Group meetings are characterized by group therapeutic work. WSG slogans are “You are not alone” and “It is not your fault” under which each woman being the member of such meetings is open and encouraged to express opinion or share her experience in a friendly and positive atmosphere. The aim of the meetings is provision of regular group psychological therapy which is proved to be very effective. Participation in WSG can be a key to unlocking the loneliness, shame, and isolation that surround abused women. The concluding part of the meetings is lawyer's consultation on women's legal rights and Q&A sessions for the participants. Throughout the period of 01 January to 31 October 2020 ten Women's Support Group meetings were held (8 of them were held online related to the instituted quarantine regime in the country) each of them with 4-5 participants.
Children Support Group
Children Support Group (CSG) meetings are being held once a quarter for beneficiaries’ children of different ages. The aim of such meetings was addressed to unite children who are being subjected to violence or are witnesses of violence in their families. The children who have experienced this kind of abuse are very vulnerable. These meetings are organized in the friendly and comfortable manner and our psychologists use different therapy methods including fairy-tale therapy, art therapy, drama therapy to help these children discover new way of life analyzing their attitude towards the surrounding world, people and their family members. Children Support Group meeting once reveal and emphasize the positive and kind sides of children’s character. Throughout the period of 01 January to 31 October 2020 four online Children's Support Group meetings were held each of them with 4-5 participants.