June 2021 Project of the Month
Soroptimist Club of Gdansk (Poland)
An astonishing one in five Polish women have experienced physical or sexual abuse from a current or former partner, or from another individual.
Projecting this onto a group of those women closest to you serves to highlight just how widespread domestic violence against women is in Poland. And it does not stop there, with 37% of Polish women experiencing psychological abuse by their current or former partner.
Only too aware of the situation in their hometown, the Soroptimists of Gdansk acted. They mobilised to provide psychological support and legal assistance for women affected by domestic violence in Gdansk. Knowing how essential it was to provide long-term support to female victims of domestic violence in their psychological reconstruction, they began there.
The challenge is to make them aware that the violence they suffer is neither normal, nor deserved.
In the long run, victims develop a high level of acceptance and tolerance of violence. It is therefore imperative to accompany them towards psychological healing. In this way, they will learn to discern their trauma, to feel powerful and to detach themselves from the relational pattern of violent domination, so as not to reproduce it.
Using funds obtained from the Provincial Government for the purpose, the Soroptimists organised a series of meetings and workshops in Monar Markot – a house for single mothers in Gdansk.
- Activities were coordinated by Soroptimists Magdalena Szkarłat-Meszczyńska and Ewa Tomicka.
- They invited a psychologist and a legal adviser,both associated with the Women’s Rights Centre, to join the project, to bring qualitative expertise.
- The goal of these encounters was also to offer a comprehensive curriculum to help women in distressing situations to access judicial responses and know their rights!
Participation was far beyond the club’s expectations. Eleven ladies, aged between 20 and 32, took part in the 26 meetings and 10 workshops organised by the Soroptimists of Gdansk.
“Most of the participants were surprised to discover that what they experienced from their partners was economic and sexual violence.”
– Project Psychologist
The women taking part were relieved to hear that not all couple-based sexual relationships are expressions of love. Their relief went from surprise to awareness, and then to the need to condemn these acts of violence. In what was a huge breakthrough, a number of the women taking part prepared to take legal action to protect themselves and their children.
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