OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign up, Login or Learn more

Interview with an Empowered Woman

* if someone tells you an area is not safe you don't feel safe * women do not talk about their experiences out of shame, the fear to be worth less, and to keep the appearance of a happy family * men who are not as successful as their wives might feel unworthy and looking for other ways to be dominant

Photo of DeletedUser
1 5

Written by DeletedUser

I did a least-minute interview with a German friend about the safety in Berlin and domestic violence. She is in her early 50ies and has a successful professional career. She is independent and empowered. But she has also been victim of domestic violence by her former husband.

As she has been living in Berlin for a few decades now, I started talking about safety in general. Here are the major points:
  • she feels very safe in Berlin
  • there are a few areas where she does not feel safe, especially alone during the night
  • she does not feel safe when a friend or the media tells her that it is not safe in a specific area
  • additionally, she does not feel safe if there is a high presence of menacing persons
  • sometimes when she drives home from work across a very lonely countryside road she does not feel safe either
  • when there is no other car to see and noone else in her own car (which is usually the case) she thinks about strangers blocking the road and stopping her car for mugging or worse things
  • she started thinking about this after she heard about a report of this happening in the area she works in

Then we talked about domestic violence against women in Germany:
  • she thinks it is a bigger problem than many perceive
  • women do not talk about their experiences out of shame, the fear to be worth less, and to keep the appearance of a happy family
  • there are more than enough institutions in Germany that provide help but women just don't go there (for the before-mentioned reasons)
  • women that are dependent on their partner (financally or otherwise) have more trouble taking actions after an incident

As I asked her it turned she had also been the victim of domestic violence:
  • her husband at that time was very impulsive, and got drunk after a pointless argument
  • When he came back and saw that she changed her dress, he acused her of being unfaithful and lost control over himself 
  • she beat her and went after her with a metal candle stand
  • the next morning he regretted everything and couldn't believe he did such a thing
  • however, this was the beginning of the lengthy destruction of their marriage and it also affected her future life as it became harder to fully trust another person now
  • she also didn't talk to anyone about this incident for the reasons she mentioned earlier
  • she stayed at home for a few weeks until everything was healed, so noone would know
  • she is not sure why this happened at the time as she never asked her former husband but she assumes that this was because she was professionally more successful at the time than him
  • she quickly rose through the hierarchy while her husband had trouble
  • maybe he felt worth less and finally "exploded" in that situation

What can we do to make it better?
  • promote equal roles of men and women
  • more presence of the topic in the public to promote open discussion
  • more independence for women

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Thanks for sharing this interview Marcus.
It shows again how the issue at the core of this women's safety challenge has broader implications than for only low urban income areas.

We talked about empowerment as one option, but in the case of your friend, it did not prevent her from feeling ashamed and it does not make her feel safer... except that she has a car and does not walk or take public transportation.

Shame seems to be a big issue and education seems to be a way to tackle it