Blue Cross Poland’s outpatient Help Centre for victims of violence is a response to a general lack of public aid for families experiencing domestic violence in the Voivodship (province) of Silesia. The Help Centre provides a holistic support system that addresses the problem of family violence which continues to be largely a taboo subject in Polish society.
While the extent of the problem is difficult to diagnose, comparative analyses of different national research studies show that:
- 25% of Polish families are affected by violence in one form or another;
- heavy alcohol consumption increases domestic aggression and is therefore one of the main factors associated with in-family violent behaviour; and
- women in particular are affected by domestic violence – as many as one in six women in Poland is reported to be a victim of domestic violence.
Blue Cross Help Centre in Bielsko-Biała Shows Six-fold Increase in Number of Clients since Project Start
The Help Centre, which has been in operation since January 2009, is part of the existing Blue Cross Municipal Treatment Centre for people suffering from alcohol dependence in Bielsko-Biała. It provides:
- holistic therapy services, i.e. its services take into account the physical, psychological, social and spiritual needs of the beneficiaries and their families;
- legal counselling services free of charge for victims of violence;
- a 24/7 helpline phone; and
- a useful database that has information about all institutions providing help in violence issues in the Silesian Voivodship.
In addition, Blue Cross Poland has started a national association called ‘Subvenia Victima’ made up of ten organisations that are working on issues related to domestic violence. Subvenia Victima’s aim is to coordinate the activities of these organisations, to create synergies and to strengthen advocacy around the issue of domestic violence in policy and public circles at the national level.
In 2010 alone, the centre’s therapists counselled more than 300 persons. This constitutes almost a six-fold increase in the number of clients since the project started! The Help Centre in Bielsko-Biała is unlikely to be able to cope with very many more future requests for therapy, without expanding its services by creating new centres, for instance.
Over booked! Please donate to Blue Cross Poland, if this story resonates with you, so more victims of violence can get access to professional therapy and allied services.