The Women’s Support Center is a program initiated in 2010 by the Tufenkian Foundation, in partnership with USAID and the Armenian International Women’s Association. Our main focus is to assist women who are victims of domestic abuse.
Our objective is to create a safe environment for women – a place where they receive support, empathy, and the knowledge that they are not alone in their struggles. Women are provided with practical learning about domestic violence, as well as counseling that bolsters self-esteem and confidence. Frankly, it is a difficult task to dissipate years, sometimes decades, of control, fear, even brainwashing of the victims – in a matter of a few months. It is a long process faced with many lapses, many bumps and bruises.
The Center also strives to change myths and taboos regarding domestic violence and, more broadly, the role of women in society. We uphold progressive values that promote political, economic and social rights for women. Thus, we are involved not only social work per se, but in combating larger, thornier problems of gender inequality, stereotypes, patriarchal values – so that women can live in safety, in peace, and as equals. The Center takes special interest in advocacy efforts. We understand that simply by assisting women in need, we will not manage to change perceptions on women’s rights; emancipation of both men and women requires much more. Together with accomplished groups such as the Women’s Resource Center NGO, we try to raise awareness among young women about positive values and healthy families based on relationships of partnership, not control. In this, we strive to help women achieve their potential as valuable members and contributors to Armenian society. As such, we are a proud member of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Women, an ad hoc alliance of feminist, social work, and advocacy groups.
The Center offers hotline, walk-in services, legal and psychological counseling, trainings, and community outreach. At the center we raise awareness about domestic violence so women can identify, see the warning signs, learn safety plans and how to become stronger to be able to combat it. When a woman’s life is threatened or decides to come out of an abusive relationship, it is considered a most dangerous phase. To address this problem, we intend to expand the Center to include a comprehensive shelter program, one that enables abused women and their children to recover fully in privacy and safety.
In US in the 1970s, women began to speak up about battering. Until then, many people thought men had a right to batter their women. Many changes occurred since the 70s and we work that the same support to women and raising awareness towards the issue will help women in Armenia to feel safe and their children be raised in a positive and healthy environment and not be scared by violence.