What we do
The (female) counselors of the Frauennotruf Bielefeld e.V. support women who experience sexual violence or have experienced it in the past. What is important for the women to know: the counselor is obliged to professional secrecy. But she doesn’t have the right to refuse to give evidence in court. That means that she is not allowed to pass on anything from consultations. But if she is questioned by a court, she has to answer the questions.
It takes courage for women to seek help at a counselling center. Rightly, they expect the counselor to take her and her problem seriously.
In their work, the counselors have to follow certain rules: the ethics guidelines of the bff (Bundesverband der Frauenberatungsstellen und Frauennotrufe in Deutschland [Federal association of women’s advice centers and women’s emergency hotlines]). These guidelines are designed to protect our clients from unprofessional and unethical behaviors.
The following aspects are part of the bff ethics guidelines:
- The counselor meets the client with respect and esteem.
- The counselor accepts and advices every woman, no matter
– how old she is,
– where she comes from,
– which religion she has,
– which sexual orientation she has,
– and if she has a physical, learning or other impairment.
- The counselor explains to the client what the Frauennotruf does and informs her
– about the kind and extent of the consultations,
– about the professional secrecy,
– about the handling of data,
– and that the counselor doesn’t have the right to refuse to give evidence in court.
- During consultations, it is important to comply with some boundaries. A professional relationship between counselor and client can never be too close, sexual or commercially.
- The counselor would overstep boundaries, if she used her professional relationship with a client for her personal benenfit.
If you have the feeling that your counselor is violating the ethics guidelines, please don’t hesitate to talk to us! You could talk directly to your counselor, or to another employee of the Frauennotruf. If that doesn’t help, you could turn to the bff’s arbitration board. You don’t have to tell your name. You could contact the arbitration board via email or letter. If you cannot write down, what happened, please let us know. The arbitrator can find other solutions as well.
The bff’s arbitration board
- listens to all persons involved; you and the counselor.
- works confidentially.
- has to thoroughly follow each complaint or problem description.
- points out violations of the ethics guidelines and gives recommendations (on what you could do).
- seeks to find mutual solutions.
- informs the counselor’s employer in cases of serious violations or criminally relevant matters.