In Romania, ADRA House Provides Shelter to Victims of Domestic Violence

The story of a woman brought out of abuse illustrates the role of the agency.

ADRA Romania, and Adventist Review
In Romania, ADRA House Provides Shelter to Victims of Domestic Violence
Logo of CASA ADRA, a center that assists victims of domestic violence in Romania. [Image: ADRA Romania]

What more could you want from a relationship than to have peace between you and your partner to form a family, a place to call home, a space of safety and development, support, and love?

Eli* used to dream of such a scenario. She dreamed of a home full of laughter and joy. She had dreamed about it since her parents separated when she was six years old. But life took her down a different path, full of tears and abuse, neglect, and helplessness.

The story begins in the home of her great-grandmother, who was left to take care of Eli and her sister because their father left them. Neighbors noticed the elderly woman’s struggle to take care of the girls, and after they notified child protection services, the little ones were taken to a state center. For Eli it was the best of times, since she was soon receiving the support of educators because of her diligence. She had a mentor who guided her young life, the Romanian language teacher at the center, who helped her discover her love for knowledge and development.

Eli would spend her holidays with her father, a person she describes as selfish and completely disinterested in her upbringing. She says she would only receive harsh words and beatings from him. The time she lived in a state home from the age of six until she turned 21 she remembers with pleasure, but returning to her father’s home was always traumatic. She remembers an episode in her early years when her father came home from work and found dirty plates in the kitchen, lined up the girls, and wiped the dirty dishes on their cheeks.

When she left the state center, things did not improve. At 22, she married a man eight years older than her. The relationship lasted eight years but ended because of his possessiveness and jealousy. The next relationship lasted 11 years and resulted in a child, although the partner did not want the child. For her, the news that she was pregnant was the only glimmer of hope in a sea of disappointment.

Eli assumed responsibility for everything to be able to become a mother, with the total non-involvement of the father, and beyond the moments of physical and mental abuse there was the constant pressure manifested by the partner’s sister, who was always present in the relationship and without whom he would not make any decisions.

Casa ADRA offers accommodation, individual and family psychological counseling, social counseling, food and emergency medical assistance to women who have reported domestic violence. [Photo: ADRA Romania]

She describes herself as a fighter, someone who invests in people and loves to help. Eli saw a TV show that helped her understand she was experiencing abuse, and it eventually led her to Casa ADRA, a place sponsored by the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Romania where victims of abuse and domestic violence can find shelter.

During her stay at Casa ADRA, Eli says, she discovered peace and security, as well as the strength to continue on. She enrolled in high school again, with the dream of then going to college. During the whole process, she was constantly supported by the specialists at the ADRA center, to whom she feels very emotionally connected.

“ADRA House was everything to me,” Eli says. “It gave me the start I needed for myself and my little girl. There I realized what had happened, how to focus on myself and my little girl, and how to manage money. I made beautiful and lasting friendships with the women there. I do not have enough words to express my gratitude for the team of professionals at Casa ADRA. Today, I am well thanks to what I learned there: empathy, love for people, and patience beyond expectations.”

ADRA Romania psychologist Mariana Rios says she loves her job at the house. “I am happy having people like Eli at the center,” she says. “I am glad that I was able to be her guide for a few months and that my work was very helpful.… She is an example of motivation, will, and perseverance.”

Tackling Domestic Violence

Since 2009, ADRA Romania has been managing the Center for Emergency Reception of Victims of Domestic Violence, known as Casa ADRA. In this center, ADRA Romania offers accommodation, individual and family psychological counseling, social counseling, and food and emergency medical assistance to women (along with their children) who have reported domestic violence to the relevant authorities. Casa ADRA has a license issued by the Ministry of Labor, Family, Social Protection, and the Elderly in Romania.

The original version of this story was posted on the ADRA Romania news site.

ADRA Romania, and Adventist Review