We gathered a group of [female] mental health workers with different links to public university – professors, technicians and post-graduate Psychology students – and we created an emergency response project for women in domestic violence situations. The psychology sessions are conducted via Whatsapp and preferably in groups of 3 to 4 women with a facilitating technician. Additionally, we have social network pages that offer the contacts for guidance and legal and health services for the women, and a group of writers which can exchange experiences just by writing a collective diary.
The project is partnered with a gender justice and human rights for women NGO. This defined the community leaderships as the priority in our response, as they attend to other women who are potentially victims of domestic violence in their regions. These groups operated as emotional support to allow the leaderships to continue doing their work of actively searching for women who needed help while also feeling as if they are being supported in their own self-care. We formed a support network in regions of greater vulnerability where the increase in poverty has resulted in an increase in domestic violence.
The mutual aid groups online have expanded via referrals from the women among themselves and publicizing on social networks (Facebook and Instagram), where the posted instructions might have reached more women than just the ones that accessed the groups. The psychologist and services network involved also expanded with the suggestion of integrating a project which would help other women. The professionals understood that it is possible to increase access to an audience which would not look for them and women who wouldn’t be motivated to find psychological aid found out that they can make use of it to take care of themselves and break with cycles of violence.
Story shared by Simone Paulon, Brazil