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Support for women in need – the Violence against women support hotline.

Available round the clock, 365 days a year and free of charge: the Violence against women support hotline offers victims a way of receiving competent advice securely, anonymously and regardless of disability whenever they need. Our counsellors provide women with confidential support and if needed can help them find appropriate local support options in their area. This new support service thus caters to a concrete social need and plays an important role in directing victims, relatives of victims, friends and professionals to appropriate support resources.

A service that is needed

Representative studies commissioned by the German Federal Office for Family, Senior, Women’s and Youth Affairs (BMFSFJ) have made the situation clear: there is a high frequency of women becoming the victims of gender-specific violence in Germany. One out of every two disabled women has been the victim of sexual assault. A wide and varied network of support options for those affected already exists at the city and community level, but until recently a central 24-hour hotline to provide all those needing support with information anonymously, free of charge and regardless of disability, and direct them to appropriate local agencies was lacking. The Violence against women support hotline was created to fill this gap in the support network.

Highly qualified and secure counselling ­– in many languages and regardless of disability

Our counsellors are all female and all highly qualified. The counselling they provide is always anonymous, confidential and takes into account all data protection requirements. Thanks to special programming, visiting the support hotline’s website is also highly secure. By providing round-the-clock availability, high security standards, counselling available in many languages as well as regardless of disability, we aim to empower women affected by violence to use the support hotline as a resource. We wish to achieve this in particular for those sections of the population which have until now only seldom made use of the existing support resources. We hope to in this way be able to reach immigrants, women with disabilities, older women or victims of human trafficking.

Targeted referrals and better support

One key objective of the support hotline is to improve the overall level of support that women affected by violence receive by providing targeted referrals. By using the support hotline women now have a resource for taking up contact with an appropriate support agency in the simplest way possible so that they can receive the help they need. For many women this is often the first step toward achieving a more self-determined life.

First contact partner for victims as well as relatives and professionals

The support hotline is aimed at reaching a number of target groups: first and foremost we wish to reach women who are or have been victims of violence. However, we also offer our counselling services to anyone, relatives or friends of victims, affected through their social environment. Furthermore, the support hotline is also available to people who are confronted with violence against women within the scope of their work or volunteer activities.

Ongoing quality assurance

The German Federal Office for Family, Senior, Women’s and Youth Affairs (BMFSFJ) is responsible for supervising the support hotline’s activities and for performing evaluations to examine its effectiveness. Evaluations to this end will be carried out for the first time five years after the launch of the support hotline. A yearly report will be published on the support hotline’s website providing more information on the activities of the hotline. The Violence against women support hotline will additionally be managed by its own advisory council.