Sabrina. Rome, Italy

Operator of the Difference Donna Association, which manages shelters and anti-violence centers for women victims of violence.

“During the lockdown we never stopped our activity, if anything we adapted it to the COVID-19 emergency. We were aware that women would be the first to suffer the consequences of lockdown: What happens when you are forced to stay locked 24 hours in the house with a man who abuse you? We were also worried: in the first two weeks of total closure we no longer received phone calls and requests for help, as if women no longer could find a way to contact us. We then launched massive advertising campaigns for the anti-violence number 1522, activated contact chats, apps, looked for new ways to let women know that they could ask for help, even in such situation. From the third week onwards, however, the requests bursted, and they even increased compared to before the emergency. We have not been contacted by unknown women, rather by those who had already embarked on a path for help. Then we understood: for those who wanted out of violence, the situation was becoming dangerous and unsustainable, while those who had never asked for help before, couldn’t even imagine a new life: it comes to economic crisis, unemployment; the messages we receive certainly do not encourage the choice to change. Now we are pressing institutions for new investments. Social and economic crises can turn into attempts to restore an old patriarchal order: women taking care of the household and childcare. Yet they can also lead to changes for the better: we shall pretend to be listened to and not let this government to take decisions about our lives on his own “.