Opoka is a Polish voluntary organisation set up in the UK as part of a pilot run by Chrysalis Supported Association Ltd. Opoka helps and supports Polish women and children who are experiencing the devastating and damaging consequences of Domestic Violence and Abuse and who are often as a result suffering in isolation without knowing who to turn to, or how and where to seek help. The hardest and most difficult first step for any person to do is to open up and to talk about violence and abuse without knowing what that will mean for their lives going forward? We recognise that in the Polish community there is a huge problem with Domestic Violence and a well-ingrained cultural “No Talk Rule!”, where Polish women feel that they are themselves in fact to blame and this leaves them feeling extremely isolated and powerless. These women live for many years suffering in silence from the effects of Domestic Violence before and sadly if ever they take the first step and call and ask for help. If remarkably they somehow manage to ask for help they often tell us that without professional help and finding someone in whom they can place their trust, that it would have been challenging for them to take that first step and to know how to make a life for themselves and their children free from violence and abuse.
For many years we have been co-operating with statutory and voluntary institutions in Poland and in the UK:
• Local Authorities • Police • National Health Services • Social Service • Next Link • Survive • Victim Support • Polish Embassy
Our longer-term goals:
• Source funds and open the first ever “Safe Polish Mother’s and Children’s Refuge.” • Despite government cuts and lack of funding, we still want to continue our work, to help and support Polish women and Children who suffer from Domestic Violence and Abuse. • Change the Polish cultural that somehow places women and children as secondary objects of little importance embedded within a male-dominated misogynistic chauvinist mindset that justifies the despicable treatment some women have to endure. • To use the strong and positive male role models of healthy men and women within the Polish culture as a way to promote and point towards this goal.
We offer these services free of charge:
• Support navigating the legal and judicial system and help with civil orders, • Psychological and emotional support, • Psycho-educational workshops and group support, • “Freedom Programme in Polish” - Practical educational workshops (how to recognise the typical behaviour of the perpetrator). We work on the popular programme “Living with the Dominator” and “Freedom’s Flowers” by Pat Craven, • (IDSVA) Independent Domestic Violence & Sexual Advisor, • Comprehensive CAADA-RIC assessments, • Peer Support, • Safety and Action planning, • Translation & Advocacy Support,
We are here to:
• Listen • Believe • Assess the risk • Address the needs • Support • Not to judge • Help • Educate • Empower • Be the voice of our Clients • Address the barriers that stop people coming forward and asking for help • Eradicate Domestic Violence & Abuse in the Polish Community
In OPOKA we have highly qualified specialists: Our professionals speak both Polish and English languages.
• IDSVA (Independent Domestic & Sexual Violence Advocate) • Psychologist • Psychotherapist • Peer Support • Midwife & Health Care Support • Legal Advisor