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We asked the women's shelters what the current situation really is
We asked the women's shelters what the current situation really is

In the spring, the experts' prognosis was that violence against women would increase due to Corona. How is the current situation?

We asked the Austrian women's shelters what the current situation really is
We asked the Austrian women's shelters what the current situation really is

In April of this year, experts warned that violence against women would increase in the corona crisis. Since the spring, families have had to master challenges such as homeschooling and home office, and they spend more time together than ever, many of them in a confined space. The alternatives are very limited. In addition, there are financial, often existential, worries. All of this leads to an increased potential for conflict. "In families where violence is prevalent anyway, it will probably escalate even more in the near future," said AÖF managing director Maria Rösslhumer to "Der Standard" a few months ago. And the figures from China have also shown that the situation is serious. Domestic violence incidents have quadrupled as a result of the exit restrictions. But what is the current situation in this country after months in a state of emergency?

No direct connection …

“We took in as many women as we did in the previous two years. Corona has not changed that,”summarizes Andrea Brem, head of the women's shelters in Vienna. Michaela Gosch, managing director of the women's shelters in Graz, also confirmed when asked by WOMAN: “The number is not as high as originally assumed. We are, even if it is often propagated differently in the media, not overburdened and overcrowded.”The situation is similar with regard to Christmas. Olinda Albertoni, director of the women's shelter in St. Pölten: “The numbers vary a lot from year to year at this time. There is no direct connection between specific social events and the workload in the women's shelter."


In any case, the fact that there was no real increase in numbers due to the corona should not be booked as positive news, warns Klaudia Frieben from the Austrian Women's Ring: “The lockdowns prevented women affected by violence from making unnoticed phone calls or even being able to flee. Very many otherwise use the opportunity to seek help when he is not at home. In many cases, this is currently not the case."

"Many are afraid of getting infected in the women's shelter."

A whole system suddenly disappeared

Gosch also sees the very unsafe overall situation as another reason why women often hesitate to break out of existing family structures: “Even if their own home is unsafe and dangerous - suddenly there was just as much threat out there. A whole system fell away from one day to the next, so that many people preferred to continue to do it at home and persevere in violent relationships."

In addition, there is the fear of infection, Brem has strongly perceived: “Many are afraid of becoming infected because they do not know what exactly to expect in the women's shelter. It is therefore very important to us to communicate that we are taking all necessary measures to avoid the transmission of diseases. We have come through this time very well so far.”In the first lockdown, a single resident in Vienna tested positive for Corona. "But since every woman has her own living unit and the affected person remained isolated, no more were infected."

By the way: WOMAN & Intimissimi distributed 600 gift boxes in women's shelters. You can find the report here.

"It's a whole system of power and control."

Christina Riezler from the protection against violence in Salzburg, on the other hand, reports an increase in counseling sessions. Ten percent more than last year. But this increase cannot necessarily be attributed to Corona: “We record a permanent increase every year, which is mainly due to the awareness-raising work. Many women often do not even know that what they are experiencing has already been recorded under violence.”On average, it takes three to five phone calls for those affected to take concrete steps. But, according to Riezler, it is not just a process to get out of violence, but also everything that precedes it: “Domestic violence can never be reduced to a single act. It's a whole system of power and control that is slowly building up."

For the expert, it is clear that Corona per se does not trigger aggression in men, even if the circumstances such as the current crisis situation certainly favors the willingness to use violence in many cases.

"To this day, politics has not recognized the problem and does not take it seriously enough."

In general, according to Frieben, the crisis shows even more clearly what has been lacking for so long: “We are calling for a vehement increase in the violence protection programs. Unfortunately, we are still receiving too little money from the government for this. Why? Because politicians still do not recognize the problem, take it seriously and play it down.”Frieben also continues to criticize the 2019 violence protection package:“One point includes the obligation to notify, according to which a notification is automatically made as soon as a woman undergoes medical treatment and it is obvious is that she is a victim of violence. That is too little thought out. As a result, many women refrain from seeking medical help because they think about what will happen to them after the complaint."

The most important message, however, remains the same for all experts: Nobody has to endure violence. Albertoni: "No matter how difficult all other circumstances may be: There is no reason to tolerate abuse."

You can find help here:

Women's helpline against violence: 0800 222 555 / advice around the clock, anonymously and free of charge, 365 days a year

Autonomous women's shelters in Austria.

Association of Austrian women's shelters: The aim of the association is to promote the support of women affected by violence and their children throughout Austria. Members of the ZÖF association are the women's shelters in Vienna (4 women's shelters), Graz, Kapfenberg, Klagenfurt, Lavanttal, Spittal, St. Pölten and Villach.

Women's shelters Vienna: The Wiener Frauenhäuser Association offers abused and threatened women and their children protection and help. A total of around 175 places are available for women and children. In addition to the women's shelters, the association also runs an outpatient advice center. The consultations are anonymous and free of charge.

Intervention center against violence in the family: Free and confidential help with violence against women, domestic violence and stalking

Advice on wire: Telephone number 147 - the Austrian emergency number for children and young people.

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