They are confidential, there for everyone, and can be found in all federal states: Support services for people in need. The specializations of the facilities – from addiction problems to financial or psychological crises to protection against violence – are as varied as the assistance themselves. For us at Hope for the Future, it is of great value to not only provide comprehensive information about our own services for those affected, but also about numerous other organizations in Austria and their work in counseling and overall support. In this article, we take a closer look at Styria – the province known as the ‘green heart of Austria’ with a population of 1.2 million – and give several of its counseling and support services exactly the stage they deserve.
HIGH FROM THE DACHSTEIN: PROTECTION AGAINST VIOLENCE IN STYRIA
Located in the center of Graz, the focus of Gewaltschutzzentrum Steiermark – Help for Victims of Violence is already in the name. Victims, relatives, or acquaintances of victims of violence can find the professional help that is irreplaceable in cases of violence. The range of services offered by the Gewaltschutzzentrum Steiermark covers a number of important topics:
- Help for victims of violence against women, children, adolescents, parents, relatives, men, children previously in care facilities and foster children and migrants
- Violence in institutions as well as in caregiving
- Sexual violence
- Forced Marriage
- Harassment and cyberbullying
All of these areas are covered by a strong 24-member team, which puts into practice the ongoing guiding principle that every person has a right to a life of dignity and security. A belief that we at Hope for the Future also share – but that is not the only area of wonderful common ground between us. The focus of the work by the Gewaltschutzzentrum Steiermark is on providing support in entering or re-entering the job market or in facing difficult situations at work, and among other things, through counseling and support in the application process. This is an incredibly essential service which is implemented daily by the lawyers, social workers, and office staff with the utmost care, empathy, and commitment.
Speaking of protection against violence for women: female victims of all ages can seek refuge in a safe haven at the Styrian Women’s Shelter Association. As a contact point for immediate help for threatened and abused women and their children, the association currently offers protection for a total of 72 people in two locations in Styria: in the Graz women’s shelter and in the Upper Styrian women’s shelter in Kapfenberg. In addition, every woman can turn to the counseling center for a confidential, anonymous, and free consultation. The range of services offered by the Styrian Women’s Shelter Association goes beyond active protection against violence. Violence prevention, raising awareness, public relations, and educational work are also within the competencies of the non-profit association. Because one thing is for certain: violence – whether physical, psychological, sexual, or economic – is not to be tolerated in any form. The outstanding team at the Styrian Women’s Shelter Association works hard every day to ensure that no women or children affected by violence are left alone in difficult situations.
HELP FOR EVERY ‘STEIRABUAM’
Accessible. Confidential. Unbiased. Anonymous. Free of charge. With these words, Männernotruf Steiermark encourages men in crisis and violent situations to contact the emergency helpline. Thirty-three professionally trained male employees then lend an ear to the men in crisis in order to find a non-violent solution together in personal, relationship, or family conflicts. In order to create a foundation of trust with potential callers, an important principle reflecting the work at Männernotruf is already emphasized on their website: the understanding that a purely male atmosphere is sometimes necessary, and that a trusting conversation is the first step towards change. And it is exactly this conversation that men – and even women – can find at the Männernotruf Steiermark. There, the dedicated staff are available around the clock and help every caller find their way to a violence-free and self-determined future.
The VMG-Styria organization also supports the „Steirabuam“.
Consisting of an acronym for „Association for Men’s and Gender Issues Styria“, the non-profit organization focuses on the following areas throughout the entire province: men’s counseling, work with boys (‘Burschenarbeit’), violence prevention and therapy, and the Institute for Men’s and Gender Research. From the Men’s Coffee in Graz to the men’s counseling centers for violence prevention and therapy in places like Hartberg and Liezen to the GenderWorkshop: the overarching goal of the support services offered by the non-profit association is to accompany society in its further development towards diversity, justice, gender equality, and health. How is this accomplished? By actively providing support and engaging with men and male youth in the gender system. In doing so, it is the highly motivated staff members from a wide range of professions who distinguish the four areas (counseling, violence prevention work, work with boys, research/education) with their many years of experience and competence in gender and diversity-related work – and who provide men and male youths with advice and support.
LENDING AN EAR INSTEAD OF LOOKING AWAY
At Hope for the Future, we have been involved in the fight against human trafficking for several years, helping trafficked persons get a fresh start with sustainable support services such as work training. Over the years, we have also come into contact with other organizations and have supported each other by exchanging information and the like. This is also how we came across the remarkable organization, KAVOD. KAVOD specializes in holistic help for victims of sexual exploitation. The commitment of the numerous employees of this organization does not end at the Styrian or even the Austrian border. It’s quite the opposite: while the war currently rages in Ukraine, the organization has donated material things as well as offered consolation to those affected on-site.
True commitment knows no boundaries, as KAVOD and the numerous other organizations prove to us every day.
Translated by Emily Schifferer
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