I don’t know if I have been a victim of violence. What should I do?
Maybe you are thinking that there is something in your life that feels wrong. But you are not sure that it is violence. That is quite normal. Violence is more than just physical actions. For example, maybe your partner will threaten you if you do not do what he tells you to. Or maybe your family is watching everything that you do. That is not as visible as a black eye or a broken arm – but it is violence. At a women’s shelter, there are women who have been subjected to many different kinds of violence.
If you are in doubt about whether you have been subjected to violence, then contact us. Together, we can talk about what you have experienced and what you can do. You can remain anonymous.
How long can I stay at Kvindehjemmet?
A stay at a women’s shelter is a temporary offer. The length of time children and mothers stay here is very individual, and very different. Some are here for just a couple of weeks or months, others stay for a longer time. It is completely dependent on the situation. When you move into Kvindehjemmet, we will make a plan, together with you, for your stay here, and we will continue to work on the plan together with your municipality.
What can I get help with while I am staying at Kvindehjemmet?
At Kvindehjemmet, you and your children, if you have any, will get help for a new beginning, free of violence. You will get help to take care of practical things like finding a new place to live or getting your financial affairs under control. And there will be plenty of time to talk about your experiences with violence, in your own time. You will get tools that will help you understand and process what you have experienced.
If you have children, they will get special help from Børnetræet, which is Kvindehjemmet’s program for children and mothers.
Most of those who have been subjected to violence feel that they are all alone with their problems. Besides individual talks, you will have good opportunities to meet other women who are in the same situation as you are – for instance, by taking part (voluntarily) in different activities that we will invite you to take part in.
What about my children?
Even if children have not seen any violence directly, they can often sense that something is wrong and that their mother is having a hard time. The biggest help you can give your child is to seek help in stopping the violence. By moving to a women’s shelter, for instance.
About 30 children are living at Kvindehjemmet. We have a special program for children and mothers that we call Børnetræet. At Børnetræet, there are three counsellors who are accustomed to talking with children about violence and about being at a women’s shelter. Børnetræet will always work closely with you as a mother. Almost all the children continue to go to school or another institution while they are staying here.
We have the impression that children normally really like living at Kvindehjemmet.
What if I start having doubts about my decision after I have moved in?
Many women are very much in doubt about their decision when they move to a women’s shelter. That is quite normal. Typically, you still love the person you left. You can use a stay at a women’s shelter to calm down and – at your own pace – find out what would be good for you and your children, if you have any. At Kvindehjemmet, you will get help to make your own individual plan. We do not expect you to make any decisions before you are ready to do so.
If you are thinking of going back, you will have the opportunity to discuss it thoroughly with your social worker, for instance. At the end of the day, it is your choice, and we want you to know that we are not passing judgement on you.
Does it cost anything to stay at Kvindehjemmet?
Yes. In principle, you must pay a small part of the cost of your stay at a women’s shelter in Denmark. Whether you, in fact, will have to pay anything depends a lot on your situation. If you don’t have any money, we want you to know that it is still possible for you to move into a shelter and get help.
Is it okay to have guests visit me?
Guests such as friends, boyfriends or family are welcome to visit you. Out of consideration for the other residents, all visits must take place between 10am and 10pm.
The violent person, however, may not come into Kvindehjemmet.
Are there staff present 24/7?
Yes. You can always find a staff member at any time of the day or night. At night, there is the night watch. If you are having trouble sleeping, you can always come down to the night watch and have a chat over a cup of tea.
What are the living arrangements like - do I have my own bath, for instance?
Kvindehjemmet is a modern, newly renovated building with five floors and a good environment for both adults and children. When you move into Kvindehjemmet, you get your own apartment, and you can lock the door. In the apartment, there are two smaller rooms and a private bathroom with bath. We have furnished the rooms, so you have as much space as possible. The beds, for instance, can be folded up, so children will have more room to play. There is also a small refrigerator in the apartment.
You will be moving to a floor where there are other women and children. It will be easy to meet others in the same situation as yourself, and there are many women and children who like that. On every floor, there is a big kitchen which is shared by everyone. You will have your own space in the refrigerator and your own cabinet space. Twice a week, you can pick up food that we receive from a food bank.
There are two living rooms and a playroom on every floor. There is also a big courtyard behind the building where you, and your children if you have any, can play or just relax. There is room for up to 36 women and approx. 30 children divided between four floors.
What if I cannot or do not want to move to a women’s shelter?
Not everyone chooses to move to a women’s shelter when they have experienced violence. Others will think about it for a long time before they make the decision. We want you to know that there are many ways to get help. Contact us and let us talk about your situation and what you can do.
We always recommend that you save any threatening or harassing messages, text messages, etc. You can take a screen shot of a message on your phone and store it in a safe place. Such messages can become important pieces of proof if you later choose to report the violence.
It would also be a good idea to consult your doctor / emergency room / police and tell about the violence, so it can be documented. That will be a huge help if you later decide to report the violence.
This post is also available in: Danish