Life in the women’s shelter
Life in the women’s shelter is colourful and varied. A wide variety of women live here who have been able to free themselves (and their children) from violent situations and who all bring their own stories with them. The women’s shelter offers them a new home and a safe place to rest, so that they can first stabilise themselves and then, with support, plan their way into a self-determined life.
Each woman or family has a room to herself (themselves) to find peace and retreat. All residents share the kitchens and bathrooms and there is a playroom for the children.
For many women, moving into the shelter is a very moving moment. Many feel relief and euphoria at the beginning of a new, self-determined phase in their lives. At the same time, this moment is also associated with many uncertainties, as the lives of the individual women and their children often change radically.
A women’s shelter is not an assisted living facility, but every woman must be able to take care of herself and her children. This means that she has to do her own shopping, provide herself and her children with food etc. and also keep the common rooms and her own room clean herself. A weekly house meeting is also part of everyday life in the women’s shelter. Here, all adult residents come together and can contribute their wishes and ideas for living together or talk about conflicts and problems with each other.
In the initial phase during the stay at the women’s shelter, the women and their children should be able to stabilise themselves and slowly find peace again. It is about coming to terms with what they have experienced and slowly arriving at a new phase in their lives and in the women’s shelter. From the beginning until they move out, they are supported, for example, in clarifying their financial situation, finding a place for their children in school or kindergarten, taking legal steps towards separation or sole custody, etc. Each woman and each child brings their own experiences to the shelter. Each woman and each child brings her/his very own reality of life with her/him and thus the different topics and needs of the individual persons also vary. For example, some women are under a lot of stress and need referral to trauma or psychotherapeutic services, other women have problems with residence permits and need special support here, and some women may need legal support in criminal or custody law matters.
The time in the women’s shelter should be a time of stabilisation and reorientation for the women and their children who have been affected by violence. But it is also a time when they feel that they are not alone and that other people are committed to them and that they can receive support according to their needs.
In the day-to-day life of the women’s shelter, celebrations are held together, excursions are undertaken together and the little things of everyday life are enjoyed together again and again, or where each supports others who are in difficult situations. Life in the women’s shelter is a matter of give and take.
In the course of their stay at the shelter, many women decide that they want to move into their own flat. They are supported by a staff member in their search for a flat. In 2022, more than 40 percent of the women’s shelter residents have moved into their own flat.
The life of the children in the women’s shelter
When a mother experiences violence, her children are always affected as well. They experience violent assaults directly themselves and or see and hear how their mother is insulted, beaten and humiliated.
As a rule, the mothers come to the women’s shelter with their children. For some children, this move is a great challenge. Often they can only take a few of their personal belongings with them, have to part with their friends and change school or kindergarten. Nevertheless, most children are happy to finally be safe.
The staff at the women’s shelter take special care of the children’s needs. They help them to get used to their new surroundings, to develop a new zest for life and self-confidence, and to come to terms with the violence they have experienced.
There are several rooms in the women’s shelter that are especially for the children and offer many opportunities for creativity, play and togetherness. There are regular individual and group activities for the children and adolescents. In addition to music and art activities with individual support, there are regular group activities, depending on the interest and age of the children. We go on excursions, to the cinema or to the museum. We celebrate together and have a lot of fun together. The children and young people also receive support with their homework if needed. The women’s shelter is a good and safe place for children!
Music and creative activities
The children and young people can take part in a music or creative activities once a week. Depending on their age and knowledge, they can first learn rhythmical exercises, build a Cajon drum or learn to play the piano. In the art project, the children can learn various artistic works such as finger painting, watercolour painting and free drawing.