Talking when many people won’t speak out

Thu, 16. May. 2019
They were delighted to see so many interested visitors attending the preview of the exhibition "Welcome home": from the left, Christa Cairoli, Annelis Eichenberger, Louise Hill and Ursula Breuninger. (Vreni Müllener)

"Domestic violence" - 60 people, including a surprising number of men, faced this difficult issue. It was hard to take on board the message presented by social worker Annelis Eichenberger, along with author Louise Hill, also affected by domestic violence herself.

Christa Cairoli, president of the Soroptimists Gstaad-Saanenland, was overwhelmed by the many visitors who made their way to the Gstaad Community Centre. The interactive exhibition “Welcome home” aims to bring down the threshold of inhibition when it comes to talking about a taboo subject that affects one in five women and up to 30 per cent of children and young people in today's society. “Unfortunately, for many, the home is no longer a place of love, safety and security,” explained Annelis Eichenberger, providing an insight into how the project came about. Various departments of the canton of Lucerne worked on this exhibition to take a stance against domestic violence. The exhibition deals with a topic that many people won’t speak about. Ways to get out of the spiral of violence are identified by providing information about the local support available and the current laws.

Having the courage to see and to act

Another aim of the exhibition is to raise awareness among supervisors, employees and friends, encouraging them not to look away if they suspect domestic violence, but to address the problem and perhaps take a first step towards changing a difficult family situation. A women's shelter is a place where people from all walks of life can meet. It offers security and, thanks to the children there, many victims can find happiness again, according to the head of the Lucerne women's shelter.

Violence in the family and partnerships concerns everyone

The very fact that the population of the Saanen region is receiving information about this sad reality is down to social worker Ursula Breuniger. She led the way to bringing "Welcome home" to Gstaad. She knows from her professional experience that this issue doesn’t end with the mountain areas. With great love and commitment, the women of Soroptimists Gstaad-Saanenland also helped to bring the exhibition to the Saanen region. The exhibition sheds light on the different facets of violence in relationships and in the family. It isn’t easy to take on board.

Raising awareness – taking a stand – taking action

This is the motto of the Gstaad-Saanenland Soroptimists. This young organisation has existed for six years and currently has 21 members. Soroptimist International is the largest service club organisation for working women and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in two years. Across the world, there are 3,000 clubs with 75,000 members in 125 countries. Soroptimist sees itself as a global voice for the rights of women and children. It’s politically neutral and not bound by any religion. It’s also an NGO (non-governmental organisation) and has consultative status with the UN. SI is a member of the permanent committee of UNESCO. Soroptimist (sorores optimae) is a Latin word which, when translated, means: "Sisters who want the best".

“My bitter life with the confectioner”

As a victim herself, Louise Hill read from her book "Vicious circle - my bitter life with the confectioner". Writing about her experiences was a way for the author to process her 20 years of marriage to a violent man. She talked openly about how a dream relationship can change and is convinced that it can affect anyone, regardless of skin colour, education and religion. However, she also wrote her story to show victims that there’s a way out of even the most difficult situation. The path can be extremely tricky and the burden you carry will be hard to bear. "Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile getting away when violence and terror dominate your everyday relationships," says the mother of three children.

Based on AvS/Vreni Müllener
Translated by Justine Hewson



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