The safe house has helped us forget our sorrows and all that we faced.

Eden and her son lived in a safe house run by Womankind partner Association for Women's Sanctuary and Development (AWSAD) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Eden

“I came here to the safe house in 2011. Before I came here, I used to study and live with my aunt. My aunt was an old woman and couldn’t support herself, let alone me. So she asked me to leave.

I had nowhere to go so I came to Addis Ababa. I had no choice but end up on the streets. I was a stranger in Addis Ababa with no one to talk to. On top of that, I was raped after a week of coming here. The person tied both my hands and legs, put cloth in my mouth so that I couldn’t scream, covered my eyes so that I wouldn't be able to identify him later and then he raped me. The police found me unconscious, lying naked on the street in the morning. It was horrible. I only regained consciousness after I reached the clinic.

I was really happy that I came to the safe house. When I first came here, I spoke to Meti (Programme Coordinator). The way she treated me was really unbelievable because I had never had anyone talk to me in such a polite manner before. It is really hard to describe in words. I don’t know; I felt like I was in paradise back then. I am a disabled person and I was pregnant so I used to think of myself as inferior with no future. When she treated me with respect and took care of me, I was so happy that I can’t describe it in words.

I have seen a lot of changes in myself since I came to the safe house. I have developed self confidence, and learned how to interact with people. I used to think that I had no one before I came to the safe house. But after I came here, I saw everyone in the safe house as my own family. The biggest lesson I took from the experience is that everyone is equal and this for me is a big change, as someone with a disability.

When I was living here, I was friends with the women who experienced violence like me. We even started a support group in the safe house. For instance, if there was a woman who recently gave birth, we will wash her baby’s clothes and help her. We loved and supported each other. Before we came to the safe house, we were full of hate due to the violence we experienced but, after we came, we were loved and that love was a great bond between us. Even after we left the safe house, we kept in touch.

The safe house being a women-only space is a wonderful thing, because a woman who has just faced violence and abuse needs to heal by herself without seeing any men. Even now, many women are being raped on the streets. The safe house has helped us forget our sorrows and all that we faced.

I have a lot of dreams for the future and I also believe that I can achieve it. I want to support women in the future. Moreover, I want to change myself, my family, the society and my country especially by working on the issue of abuse. This is because there’s a lot of abuse going on in Ethiopia and I’m determined to fight that.”