Domestic Violence Program

Responding to Domestic Violence

The domestic violence program is a community service to combat violence in the family, known as the “Edelweiss Program” (or Floare de Colt in Romanian). This name was chosen by the staff because the Edelweiss is an endangered species in Romania that grows in hard, rocky places, and, like the family, is in need of protection.

“Floare de Colt” began as a community response to the problem of domestic violence. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) provided funding in 2003 that allowed Veritas to provide training in recognizing and responding to incidents of domestic violence for teachers, doctors, lawyers, police, clergy, psychologists and social workers. Partnerships and a referral network were established with the town hall, the court and prosecutor’s office, the police, the town hospital, and the schools. A public awareness campaign was organized using a variety of media to inform the public about the phenomenon of violence and newly available services, including a telephone hot-line.

Since 2003, the Floare de Colt staff has responded to about 100 new cases per year. Referrals come in large part from schools, doctors, police, and the Department of Child Protection. Support in managing immediate crisis situations, legal counselling and assistance, psychological counselling and practical support, can help empower victims to make the necessary changes that will ensure a more stable and secure future for their families.

Floare de Colt recognized the need for children from violent families to have a safe environment where they could do homework or play in the afternoons and during school vacations. Initially organized under the auspices of Floare de Colt, these activities now are provided in cooperation with the other Veritas programs, allowing for broader social support for the children. A more recent initiative of Floare de Colt has been a women’s sewing workshop, intended to help women develop skills that could help them earn a living in Sighisoara’s textile industry. The workshop is staffed by women who themselves have been beneficiaries of Veritas services.

In addition to working with victims and their families, the staff engages in preventative education in local schools, often with help from students in the Romanian Studies Program. They present information and facilitate discussions about the effects of violence and the risks of human trafficking. They also teach about anger and conflict management, and ways to nurture healthy relationships.

Services offered:

  • Psychological and legal counselling
  • Mediation for couples
  • Play therapy for children
  • Support for families at risk
  • Social assistance – practical help in dealing with crises, ongoing support for family members through Veritas programs and community networks
  • Referrals to shelter for victims as needed
  • Support for women in difficulty, helping them to develop skills which will enhance economic independence, help in finding work
  • Public awareness-raising about human rights, encouraging citizens to take a stand against abuse

Staff: Psychotherapist and legal counselor.