Telefono Rosa campaign asks women to call the pink telephone in case of domestic abuse

Isolation and quarantine made it very difficult for domestic violence victims. The United Nations estimated 15 million additional cases of gender-based violence due to the lockdown. Telefono Rosa, an Italian non-governmental organisation, launched a campaign to help women who suffer domestic violence during the lockdown. This Rome-based non-profit has several shelter houses, two anti-violence centres in two city-halls and works with psychologists and lawyers to support victims. They also offer a phone number and chat for women living with their abusers to report violence.

Eliana D’Ascoli

Eliana D’Ascoli, a psychologist at Telefono Rosa, told Outriders how the Pink Telephone works.

– Telefono Rosa is an organisation of volunteers that works to combat domestic violence. We offer free legal and psychological support; we have two shelter houses where we can host women with their children who need protection. We also conduct training and prevention programmes in schools, companies, hospitals and law-enforcement agencies.

– How many people in total work in the team?

– We are 40 volunteers and 35 employees. People who work in shelter houses do not work as volunteers because these are projects financed by the municipality or the region. We have two anti-violence centres in two city halls, where psychologists and lawyers assist women who became victims of domestic violence.

– In case a woman is living with her abuser, how could she contact your organisation? What will she do next?

– In case a woman is living with her abuser, she can call us or use a chat option on our website. In case of danger, she can call law-enforcement agencies. If someone is in a life-threatening situation, they must be immediately put in protection. In this case, a woman is transferred to a shelter house after being visited by the police and accompanied to the First Aid for a visit.

– Have you seen an increase in the number of calls during the lockdown?

– In this period of lockdown, I received a lot of calls, more than usual. Forced and uninterrupted cohabitation 24/7 has certainly exacerbated already tense or violent situations. For example, a woman went into her car to call me, because she could not speak at home where her partner or husband would hear it. Another woman called me while she went out to throw away the garbage; others called me from the supermarket.

– What are the main challenges in the current situation?

– It is not possible to meet those who suffered domestic violence and make psychological consultations in person due to the lockdown. Sometimes it is difficult for women to talk on the phone, they are afraid that their abuser will listen to them. At the same time, they need a space where they can tell everything that happens in everyday life, and it is not always possible.

– How many people have you already helped during the pandemic?

– During the pandemic, Telefono Rosa registered a 40 per cent increase in calls, compared to the same period last year.

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