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Women's shelters: Together we can make a difference to families affected by domestic violence

How do you assess how safe a battered woman is? How does violence develop in a relationship that started out as a whirlwind romance? Employees from Greenland’s seven women’s shelters will be responding to these and many other questions at a seminar for professionals in the town of Aasiaat in western Greenland on 5 October. The Danish-Greenlandic cooperation project Kattunneq is behind the seminar.

Just under two-thirds (62 per cent) of women in Greenland have been exposed to violence at some point, and 16 per cent of Greenlandic mothers of children under the age of 14 have been subjected to physical violence from their partner. However, the vast majority of women affected by violence never move into a women’s shelter. That’s why the professionals with whom the families come into contact need to be equipped to recognise the signs of violence and act if they suspect it.

In order to help other professionals to actively intervene and support families affected by violence in the best possible way, employees from Greenland’s seven women’s shelters will share their knowledge about domestic violence at a seminar for professionals on 5 October.

Fundamentally, women and children have the right to be protected from violence, and children have the right to a safe home and a safe childhood. But this is far from the reality in all households, and the violence has enormous consequences for the whole family – and not least for society. Every day at our women’s shelters, we meet women and children affected by violence, and part of our responsibility as professionals is to break the taboo about violence and share our knowledge about domestic violence, so that we can join other professionals in making a difference to families affected by violence” said Haldora Jeremiassen, Chair of QPK, the women’s shelters’ alliance.

The seminar will be held in connection with a course for the country’s women’s shelter employees taking place as part of the Kattunneq project. This is the fourth time that the Kattunneq project is inviting other professionals to participate in the training and interdisciplinary discussions on families affected by violence. Participants at the seminar on 5 October will include employees from the general hospital (Aasiaat Regionssygehus), the family centre in Aasiaat and local educational institutions and day care centres. One of the presenters is Matta Thorin, who is the head of the women’s shelter in Aasiaat.

We are delighted that the seminar in Kattuneq is being held in Aasiaat this time. It helps us shine a light on violence in the home here in our city, so that citizens and other professionals become aware that our team at the women’s shelter are ready to support families in need of help. It’s important that we are vocal about stating that domestic violence is never acceptable, and that anyone who is subjected to domestic violence can get help,” said Matta Thorin, head of the women’s shelter in Aasiaat.

The Kattunneq project is a collaboration between The Mary Foundation, the Danish NGO Danner, the women’s shelters in Greenland, Mælkebøttecenteret (The Dandelion Centre), the Ministry of Family, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Justice and OAK Foundation Denmark.

Facts about Kattunneq

  • The Kattunneq project is a collaboration between The Mary Foundation, Danner, the women’s shelters in Greenland, Mælkebøttecenteret (The Dandelion Centre), the Ministry of Family, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Justice and OAK Foundation Denmark.
  • The project has been running since 2014. The goal is to strengthen efforts against domestic violence in Greenland through sharing experience and further education of the employees at the women’s shelters, and other initiatives.
  • The project will run until the first quarter of 2019 and focus on embedding and spreading awareness of the lessons learned from the project.
  • To date, Kattunneq has hosted six courses for employees at the Greenlandic women’s shelters and three seminars for other professionals working with families affected by violence.
  • Evaluations show that the training at the courses in Kattunneq have contributed to strengthening the professional expertise of women’s shelter employees. As an example, the employees find that they have become better at receiving women and children at the women’s shelters and have been introduced to new knowledge and methods that have led them to work with residents in new ways. They share their experiences extensively and find that they have learned how important it is to look after themselves and their colleagues.
  • Additionally, the Kattunneq project has helped strengthen and formalise the local interdisciplinary collaboration on families affected by violence in many areas.
  • OAK Foundation Denmark is the primary financial partner on the project, which also receives financial support from the Ministry of Family, Gender Equality, Social Affairs and Justice and The Mary Foundation.
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