Victims of gender violence become survivors
The Fundación Ana Bella helps women who have suffered from gender violence to return to society. Thanks to their work, it was one of the organizations that to benefit at the last edition of “Euros de tu Nómina”, promoted by Banco Santander.
Every week, 50 women die in Europe as a result of gender violence, according to research done by various NGOs. In 2018, 47 women were killed by their partner or ex-partner and, since it’s been recorded, in 2003 the figure increases to 1,000 women. Most of them hadn’t filed reports of what happened or asked for help. Therefore, it is essential that they feel supported and strong enough to do so.
The goal of Ana Bella and her foundation is to lend a helping hand. She also suffered from the cruelty of domestic violence. “I saw on TV that a woman had died at the hands of her partner and I thought: how could she have let that happen? And maybe, that same night, my ex-partner had hit me with a belt”. Ana recalls.
After 11 years of suffering, one night she got together the necessary courage, she took her four children, their car, and left home in search of a new life. “I was 29 years old and all I had ever been was an abused woman”. Ana Bella lived in two shelters and received government aid that she never asked for. “In the document, it was said that I was a victim of gender violence, but I was not the victim, I was a survivor“. At this moment, she decided to help other women who had experienced what she had.
Mustering everything she had she decided to go on a TV program to speak about her experience and offer her assistance to women who were suffering from gender violence. 1,000 people asked for her help. Ana welcomed the first woman into her home, and since then, they have created a network of 25,000 survivors that offer mutual assistance.
Since its creation in 2006, the foundation has been evolving and now covers various areas. Companionship for women to encourage them to report crimes, childcare, professional training, and even instruction for companies on how to become an essential element in the fight against gender violence.
The most difficult part after taking the first step and reporting the crime is returning to work. “In fact, most of them are forced to work in invisible and low-salary jobs. It seems that we only can work as cleaners or warehouse workers”, she explains. “Despite being fine and necessary jobs, they shouldn’t have to fall on women who have been victims of gender violence”, she says.
That’s whythe Ana Bella Foundation looked intothe various needsof companies that allow women to come out of hiding. After a while, they came up with the Momentum Task Force agency, a brand ambassador.
This way, there are more and more companies that instead of paying attention to the notion of the ideal woman, they relyon all sorts of women. “We are strong women, capable of getting back on our feetreally fast and bouncing back fromdifficult situations. Furthermore, we understand body language and the companies recognize our value”, Ana affirms.
The importance of environment
Aware that any woman could have been mistreated, regardless of their level of education or social condition, they consider the role that companies have to be really important. “It doesn’t matter if they are lawyers, journalists, or psychologists. Many abused women don’t ask for helpbecause they don’t realize that they are being abused, but those who mightrealize it are their friendsand co-workers, as they spend an average of 8 hours per day withthem”, she says. For this reason, the Foundation offers training courses for staff so they know how to recognize the situation.
“Our value comes from thepositive personal story ofa survivor, detailingwith specific examples of what gender violence means, how it happens, and warning signals to learn in order todetect it at the time it happens toyouor afriend”. Thanks to this initiative, we are making companies accelerators of social change towards an equal society”, Ana explains.
In 2017, Ana told her story in a video that was published on PlayGround. It was seen 80 million times, which turned into 3 million petitions for help. Now the Ana Bella Foundations extends to Canada, Romania, Guinea Bissau, and the United States, among other countries.
This year, the Foundation received 40,000 euros in aid thanks to the Banco Santander’s program “Euros de tu Nómina”, where employees of the entity donate part of their salary to different social projects.