Building support networks for families to thrive

July 03, 2022 - 08:55
To cherish Việt Nam Family Day (June 28), two new Ngôi nhà Ánh Dương (Houses of Sunlight) have been opened in Đà Nẵng and Hồ Chí Minh City to host women and girls who suffer domestic and gender-based violence leaving their homes in an emergency.

HAPPY FAMILIES: On Việt Nam's Family day, a young family enjoys their book shopping time, one of a handful activities researchers say vital to keep a family close-knit and sharing time together. VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyết

by Nguyễn Mỹ Hà

It is often said that a family is happy when the woman is happy.

According to a recent study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), 60 per cent of Vietnamese women suffer from any domestic violence at least once in their lives. Providing women and children with tools to feel is essential.

There are still many women in relationships who suffer in a union they're not happy with but have not found a way to improve or leave behind.

To cherish Việt Nam Family Day (June 28), two new Ngôi nhà Ánh Dương (Houses of Sunlight) have been opened in Đà Nẵng and Hồ Chí Minh City to host women and girls who suffer domestic and gender-based violence leaving their homes in an emergency.

ON CALL: Director of CSAGA Nguyễn Vân Anh says that their hotline receives up to 100 calls a night from people needing help.Photo courtesy of CSAGA

Under the auspices of UNFPA in Việt Nam, financial support from the government of Japan, the shelters are run by the Centre for Studies and Applied Sciences in Gender - Family - Women and Adolescents (CSAGA), and receive strong support from Vietnamese government bodies, including the National Assembly Social Affairs Committee, the Gender Equality Department under the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Public Security, and local governments at the grassroots level.

On a trip to inspect the sunlight homes in Đà Nẵng, Đỗ thị Lan, deputy chairwoman of the National Assembly's Social Affairs Committee, said she was impressed with the facility, highlighting the launch of the two houses amid current efforts to amend the Law on Domestic Violence.

UNFPA contracted CSAGA, an NGO dedicated to women, girls, and children's rights whose lives are affected by domestic and gender-based violence in Việt Nam, to run the new facilities.

SCARRED FOR LIFE: A girl born in 2009 in Hà Đông City suffering from domestic violence was rescued by local police.Photo courtesy of Hà Đông Police

Though family should provide emotional support, home traditions, familiar habits and comfort, it's not always the haven we want. Behind closed doors, some women have to navigate a family storm that leaves them deeply traumatised while children often suffer emotional wounds for the rest of their lives.

"It is not just the safe shelters for women and girls to escape their domestic and gender-based violence," Nga told Việt Nam News in a telephone interview. "Ánh Dương House provides a home for women to wait for the storm to pass, regain their balance, recollect their strengths, and get empowered toward building a new life without domestic violence."

With about 20 staff, CSAGA has been working full time, around the clock to help women, calling for help.

"Every night, we receive between 20 and 100 calls for help," said Nga. "Each of us has to assess the situation to either help report the case to the police, give them a good lawyer, or just get a cab to take them away from their home, which is always in the middle of the night."

She said everyone at the centre, from people on duty to the director, could provide consultation for callers when they pick up the phone at any given time.

On the fan page of the website, 'Love and Freedom' valuable posts helping women in need have been published in Vietnamese to assist women who are suffering.

DON'T SUFFER IN SILENCE: If you feel you're facing domestic violence or gender-based discrimination, or want to help another woman, call the hotline or drop a Facebook message. Photo courtesy of CSAGA

Finding the languages of love

Once you've decided to share your life with another person, and together build a family, it is good to know how to express and have a command of love.

According to a book by Gary Chapman, there are five languages of love. They are acts of service, gift-giving, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation.

Today, generation Z tend to receive or hear the simple yet powerful "I love you" much more than their parent's generation. The advice from experts at CSAGA is that you should not hesitate to say it out. If your loved ones make you happy, you need to tell them.

Once you can say it, then show you care. Daily caring acts show your love. Give a helping hand, ask if you could hang around to be of some help, open the door, and look out for ways to be of help to your loved ones. It might be tricky at first, but you will soon get there in no time.

In a busy modern family, it's important to find quality time for each other. Everyone needs to agree that each day you spend some time together. You can make a rule of no phone on the dining table for dinner, talk about your day, feel grateful to have food on the table, and maybe share a joke about your bad habits.

Tender physical contact among family members can be very powerful in extending positive energy to your loved ones. A bear hug should be comforting for both sides as should parents kissing their children on their foreheads. Sometimes, a pat on the back or a high-five works wonders.

Last but not least, giving small and meaningful gifts to your loved ones send a message that you care and you know what they like. The gifts show your presence even when you're not around.

But too much love and care can become a pressure. Showing love can be good when the receiving party appreciates it, but you also need to respect space and give a certain degree of freedom to your loved ones.

As humans, we cannot always be balanced, calm and reasonable. That's why we need someone to steer our attention or give us time to cool down when we become angry or full of negative feelings. When we're under too much pressure, we may not be able to make wise and considerate decisions.

We must always give ourselves room to step back. Make it clear to other family members when you're not feeling okay, and be attuned to signs of something not being quite right whether it is a woman raising her voice, a man's blood rushing to his face in a swell of anger, or children starting to cry. Knowing the signs helps to release your emotions and wait for the anger to wane.

It's important to know how anger or emotional outbursts work so you can steer them in the right direction. One problem is that there are often family members who snap more often, while the ones who always try to help get neglected.

If you need to leave home for a while to calm down, make sure your family knows where you're heading and for how long, and make sure you are not doing something crazy you will regret when you return to your usual self.

To have a supportive family is the best thing in life you can wish for. Having a safe home to go to is worth all the effort and dedication it takes.

The Homes of Sunlight are a wonderful step in helping battered women get the support they need, but all of society needs to help, and it starts with the ways families live and operate together.

When you can sit down, talk, laugh, or heal each other's pain, a family can be at its best. And there are a few things better in life than a loving happy family. Sometimes it just takes a little work to get there. VNS

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD: Always be prepared. A safety plan needs to be gradually assembled and you should always have a number of a close confidante you can call any time.Photo courtesy of CSAGA

Useful tips for facing domestic violenceIf you're living with a violent man who acts violent to you and your children, hits you, yells at you, or threatens to hurt you, it's time you build yourself a safe and effective plan. Anyone suffering any violence, be it physical, mental, sexual, economic or even verbal, needs to provide themselves with the right safety tools:- Your personal information- Handy things you will need to spend some time away from home- Your plan for future lives at school, home and other places you need to go- Keep your plan in a safe private place, away from violent family members. You can print a copy and give it to someone, not from your family, who you trust.- Have an emergency phone number you can call at any time- Trust your inner feelings and carefully consider your next steps.Women suffering from domestic violence can call the hotline 024 3333 5599 or send a message to to get immediate help.