Gender-based violence is a virulent type of abuse. The perpetrators do not fit in a specific profile and anyone can be a victim. It can be physical, sexual, psychological, domestic, work-related, economic and discriminatory. Every act of gender-based violence creates a victim and triggers complex physical and psychological consequences.
Violent Support Online (VSO) supports victims of gender-based violence. It is a confidential and anonymous space for people to feel comfortable using their voice and talking about their experiences. The service has been designed on the premise that a comprehensive support structure directly empowers victims, encourages them to speak out and increases their capacity to respond and initiate the change they desire.
VSO offers a first line of emotional support through free, one-to-one, real-time, confidential and anonymous interaction. It is an entry point service that is entirely survivor-centred, focusing on a person’s right to be protected from gender-based violence.
Support is provided in two ways: either through an online chat system or via e-mail. Chat support is available daily in English and Maltese on a 24-hour basis. It is also provided in Italian on Tuesdays, Serbian on Wednesdays and French on Thursdays, from 2 to 4pm. E-mails are replied to within 48 hours.
Chat support is available daily in English and Maltese on a 24-hour basis
The national context is one in which victims do not know their rights or how to tackle the situation they are in. There is a fear of reporting, even though the costs of gender-based violence are extremely high. Consequences include depression, isolation, fear and anxiety, damage to property and social exclusion.
Victims come from all walks of life and have distinct needs and require different kinds of support and interventions. No single case is identical to another.
VSO does not subscribe to a one-size-fits-all approach that focuses solely on face-to-face support. It extends help to more individuals experiencing the aftermath of gender-based violence.
VSO educates employers and their employees on what constitutes gender-based violence and what companies can do to support their employees. Of importance in the Maltese context are family-run businesses in which family and domestic issues may extend to the workplace.
Employers can show employees that the company is ready to provide a support structure. This can be an official and written company policy that refers employees to VSO. Professional support can also be outsourced to psychologists, legal aid and so forth.
VSO provides practical information relevant to their specific case. The website contains a wealth of facts, legal information and advice on topics such as child abuse and defilement of minors, sexual assault and rape, domestic violence, hate crimes, bullying and harassment, stalking, legal aid, compensation, the rights of victims, employment rights and safety planning.
The VSO project is a partnership between SOS Malta, Victim Support Malta, CORE platform, Commission on Domestic Violence (CDV) and Advenio e-Academy (AeA Ltd). It is co-funded by the EU DG Justice Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme and partly co-financed by the Ministry for Education and Employment.
If you’re seeking support concerning gender-based violence, visi www.vso.org.mt, click on the ‘chat is online’ or ‘e-mail’ buttons, enter your nickname, gender, age and language and send the trained VSO personnel a message.