Conception

Project and Capacity

The BORA Women’s Shelter provides 53 beds for women and children fleeing violence.

 Where It All Started

On July 7, 1976, the first women’s shelter opened in Berlin. There are six shelters in the city. Although the staff has been very successful during these years, it is a sad fact that violence against women and their children has not decreased.

In 2015 alone, 14,490 cases of domestic violence were reported to the police (2014: 15,254 cases); 1,176 women and 1,116 children (2014: 1,196 women and 1,081 children) found protection and support in women’s shelters and sheltered apartments in Berlin.
Source: Berlin Senate Administration for Health, Care, and Equality, Dept. of Women and Equality, Berlin

Despite this amount of violence, there are only 301 beds in Berlin’s women’s shelters.

Women comprise some 80% of the victims of intimate partner violence. According to current crime statistics, over 51% of abused women lived in a common household with their perpetrators. In 2016, 133,080 victims of partner violence were registered in Germany, including almost 109,000 women, and here are the numbers of incidents of attempted or committed crimes against women:

  • premeditated assaults: over 69,700
  • threats: over 16,700
  • aggravated assault: ~11,900
  • stalking: over 7,600
  • murder and homicide: 357

Source: Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth

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Mission Statement

Violence against women* and their children is no exception but an everyday reality in a supposedly enlightened and human society. The BORA Women’s Shelter wants to educate the public about this and engage in activities that work towards ending violence against women*.

We offer protection and support for women* and children fleeing violence. We see ourselves as advocates for women* and work in cooperation with them. We are keenly aware of structural violence against women*, its historical and contemporary causes which manifest themselves, among other places, in the concrete life situations of diverse women* and their children. This forms an essential part of our daily work with women*, the solidarity between residents, our support for these women*, our political work, and networking with other women’s projects.

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Target Groups

The BORA Women’s Shelter is a safe house for women* and children who are survivors of violence, regardless of nationality, country of origin, religion, or age.
Boys aged 14 and older need to live outside the Women’s Shelter until a place is found – with the help of the BIG hotline – in which they can live together with the mother. Boys aged 14 and older who need wheelchair-accessible housing are allowed to stay in the BORA Women’s Shelter.

Institutions who may profit from our work include:

  • the Senate of Berlin
  • the police
  • the press and the media
  • government agencies
  • counseling centers

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Commuting Area

The work of the BORA Women’s Shelter is not restricted to a certain neighborhood, district, or city. For safety reasons, women* who already live in the neighborhood of the BORA Women’s Shelter usually need to be transferred to another women’s shelter.

 Main Goals of the Work at the Women’s Shelter

  • The BORA Women’s Shelter strives to protect women* and their children from violence and to change the threatening conditions of their lives.
  • The well-qualified BORA staff encourage the self-initiative of women* and a supportive atmosphere among shelter residents to question traditional patriarchal and racist patterns in their lives and to formulate and realize their own ideas and goals.
  • With its feminist advocacy efforts, the BORA Women’s Shelter attempts to better understand violence against women*, speak out against this injustice, and fight it.

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Guiding Principles of Our Work

Feminist Advocacy

We see our work as advocacy for and with women*. To find out more, please read our Mission Statement. [LINK nach oben?]

 Confidentiality

Confidentiality at the Women’s Shelter means that the location of the shelter is kept secret to prevent abusers from pursuing women* and children. Residents and staff are equally obliged to keep the shelter’s address secret. Confidentiality also means that counseling is confidential. The Women’s Shelter’s staff is bound to professional discretion. Personal data or information is not passed on to institutions or individuals without consent. Discretion among the Women’s Shelter’s residents and staff is part of the House Rules.

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Voluntary, Unbureaucratic, and Fast Admission

The fundamental prerequisite of our work is women’s individual decision to seek refuge at the shelter. The staff is not required to admit women* who were ordered to come. The Women’s Shelter hotline can be reached 24 hours a day. Women* seeking help will be immediately admitted to the shelter without any bureaucracy.

Individual Duration of Stay

How long a woman* stays at the shelter depends upon their individual circumstances. The shelter’s guideline for the duration of stay is “as long as necessary, as short as possible”. Sometimes there are good reasons for a woman* to stay at the shelter for an extended period of time. An individual’s state or other external factors may necessitate a longer stay. Outside factors like unclear residence status, legal proceedings, or the tight market for housing are beyond the influence of the women* and the staff.

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One-on-One Case Management (“Kontaktfrauensystem”) and Individual, Qualified Counseling for All Women* Regardless of Their Background

Throughout their stay at the Women’s Shelter each woman* is assigned to a staff member, a so-called contact woman (“Kontaktfrau”). Each child is assisted and supported by their own contact woman from the children’s staff. This system guarantees a continuity of the counseling process, helps to build a relationship of trust, which is the necessary basis for all successful social work, and allows for responsibilities within the team and with authorities to be determined.

When working with immigrants, we pay close attention to their place and culture of origin as well as their particular situation in Germany. We work with women* translators or staff members who speak several languages. In our public relations work, we strongly support the rights of women* immigrants.

There are women* of diverse nationalities and cultural backgrounds on the Women’s Shelter’s team.

Staff members go through additional training on a regular basis. Supervision and evaluation tools are used to continually check the work at the shelter and adapt it to the residents’ needs.
Residents can receive legal counseling by a woman lawyer. We cooperate with a selected group of women* psychologists, doctors, and counseling centers.

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Transparency

We attempt to be clear about how we work and reach decisions so that everybody can understand and discuss the shelter’s rules and the staff’s decision-making processes.

 A Room of Her Own

For a minimum of privacy and quiet, each resident and her children are given a room for themselves. We have one wheelchair-accessible room.

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Self-Organization of Residents and Help for Self-Help

Without the residents’ cooperation, the BORA Women’s Shelter would not exist and daily life could not be maintained. The residents admit women* at night and on weekends and organize their daily life at house meetings. The women* help and support each other. This experience forms one of the basic ideas of the Women’s Shelter: Women*’s solidarity ends men’s violence. Sharing common experiences helps each woman* to understand that suffering violence is not her individual fate. Women* realize the extent of male violence and can develop strategies to counter.

Because we do not want our counseling and support to bring women* into new forms of dependence, we avoid hierarchical structures and encourage women’s self-initiative.

 Quality Assurance

To guarantee and improve the quality of our work, several quality control instruments are incorporated into the work processes of the Women’s Shelter.

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Organizational Structure

The BORA office is in charge of personnel and financial matters. It provides for a well-planned and cost-efficient organization of work and use of funds at the Women’s Shelter.

The all-female shelter staff consists of social workers, educators, a psychologist, and a building caretaker. This team of specialists is supported by other staff provided by government programs such as Working Opportunities for the Long-Term Unemployed, or Federal Volunteers Service Program. We also offer internships for trainees.