The house with five social apartments is pleasant, recently renovated. Single women who leave rapists can feel safe inside. This is also demonstrated by the fact that the lady who has just left does not want to let journalists into the house. There are no names on the bells for security reasons, Jana must be called. In the comfortable two-room apartment, where he invites the editor, smells of boiled beef, the children will have strong soup for dinner.
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Jana makes tea and starts talking about issues with her ex-partner. They’ve been hanging out since today’s five-year-old boy was born. Trouble culminated when she got a job last year because her ex-partner had stopped working. “I worked one night on a magazine shipment. It lasted a few months, but then he learned that the men worked there too. He started by saying that I had been unfaithful to him and that he didn’t want me I’m going. He even locked me in my house”, describes Jana. He had also beaten her for a long time, even though there were children. “The little one is still afraid of men”, regrets Jana.
The situation became unbearable when the man started leaving the children home alone at night. After less than a year of feeding the children herself in appalling conditions, Jana finally decided to leave. She learned from a relative that Spiral, the association Ústí nad Labem, allows people in crisis to live in an apartment which can also be financed by social benefits. She was lucky, the organization just had one free. She took care of everything she could and she could move in a month. She therefore put an end to the attacks of the rapist.
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Despite the generous help of Spiral, Jana does not have an easy life even in a social apartment. Every day he takes his hyperactive son by bus to a special kindergarten, and his daughter to school in another part of Ústí. Her ex-husband quickly stopped paying child support, which the court ordered last November. When she pays for rent, kindergarten and small school supplies, Jana only has a few thousand dollars left for food and other necessities.
In August, after a year of life, she should find herself in a social apartment and find commercial accommodation. “I’m already looking for something,” says Jana. That’s why he is now looking for offers for morning jobs, the new rent will be much higher.
Stand on your own two feet
Living in five newly renovated social apartments has been offered to single women in crisis by the Spirale since last year. “They are aimed at people in crisis, single parents or young adults,” says Martina Vojtíšková of Spiral. The organization’s social workers also help clients with personal and professional issues.
Jana, a single woman who left her violent partner, is an ideal tenant of a social apartment. “Anyone who has experienced domestic violence for a long time does not want their standard of living to drop and end up in a shelter. Living with regulated rent will allow you to manage on your own,” says Mr. Vojtíšková.
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The Spiral Intervention Center, run by Vojtíšková and which helps victims of domestic violence, has been in Ústí for fifteen years. “Clients will be able to find advice, information on how others have dealt with domestic violence in a discreet and free way,” the director said, adding that specialists, including lawyers, therapists and social workers, work in the team.
According to experts, many cases of domestic violence occur outside major cities and for many victims it can be difficult to get to the response center, which is located in regional towns. For this reason, the spiral has established contact points in several small towns in the Ústí nad Labem region. “In addition, we received a car as a gift and we have the opportunity to go anywhere by appointment,” Vojtíšková emphasizes.
Not just Jana. Hundreds of people in the region face domestic violence
Last year, police evicted a violent person from shared accommodation 958 times across the Czech Republic. They recorded the highest number of reports in Prague, followed by the Ústí region (112 cases).
Reporting is a precautionary measure that offers victims of domestic violence (DN) immediate protection against violence from a loved one. Those who do not have the courage to call the police can cooperate with the Intervention Center of the Ústí nad Labem region under the title Spiral.
Locals are already familiar with the long-term center, as evidenced by the number of 462 people from the Ústí nad Labem region who last year sought the services of this regional center for people at risk of DN.
In March 2022 alone, there had been 50 eviction cases in the Ústí nad Labem region, and a total of 229 people in the region sought help from the center. What is alarming is that of this number, 85 are minors who have been present in incidents between parents.
Are you also experiencing domestic violence? Call the Spiral Response Center in Ústí nad Labem on 475 511 811. Or write anonymously to a specialized website for DN victims called Nenech.se.