Children at the Shelter

The Situation for Children

Children at the BORA Women’s Shelter often have experienced physical, mental, or sexual violence themselves.

This affects them in many ways:

  • Children are afraid that their mother, sisters, brothers, or they themselves could be injured or killed.
  • They feel helpless because they cannot change the situation.
  • They feel torn because they love both parents.
  • If children realize that their parents are arguing about them, they blame themselves for the abusive situation.
  • Often, children have been hit, kicked, sexually abused, screamed at, threatened, humiliated, or blackmailed.
  • Children who witness or are survivors of sexual violence are confronted with feelings of helplessness, guilt, or shame.
  • Most children have no one to talk to about the violence.
  • Often, children are told not to tell anybody what is going on at home. This puts them under heavy pressure.
  • Children who repeatedly experience violence will get used to it. For them, it becomes part of their normal lives. In their later years, they often become victims of violence or become violent themselves.

That is why it is important that mothers get their children out of this situation and make sure they are helped.

At the BORA Women’s Shelter, a team of all-female educators offers group activities for children four afternoons a week.

They also provide:

  • help with homework
  • outings and activities during school holidays
  • emergency childcare
  • games, books, and arts and crafts supplies
  • rooms to play and run around
  • regular meetings with a group of mothers

At the BORA Women’s Shelter, each child is assigned to one member of the pedagogical staff. She helps children in their new situation and makes their stay at the shelter easier. The child can come to her to speak about their problems.

This staff member also maintains close contact with the child’s mother and provides support and advice in various situations:

  • change of school or daycare center (“Kita”)
  • registering a new address, applying for child benefit, parental allowance, filing alimony claims
  • child custody matters
  • planning and organizing school holidays
  • finding leisure activities for their children
  • educational issues
  • preparing for the time after leaving the shelter.

Children from diverse cultural backgrounds live at the shelter. They speak a variety of languages, observe a variety of holidays, and sing a variety of songs. All are equally respected and can feel at home here.

The BORA Women’s Shelter does not tolerate any form of violence, either by adults or children. Children learn that violence is not an acceptable way of resolving conflict and learn to find other ways of dealing with it.

Custody

It is not easy for mothers to be granted sole custody of their children. The law is based on the premise that a child has the right to a relationship with both parents. If joint custody is not possible due to abuse, we will support you in filing an application for the right to determine the place of residence of the child with the family court. In most cases, the father will still have a visiting right, which allows him to spend time with his child. If the father is violent, we will inform youth welfare services. In these cases, an “accompanied contact” may be ordered, i.e. a social worker accompanies the child while they spend time with their father.