Domestic violence is a serious issue worldwide that affects millions of people, including an estimated 50,000 individuals each year in Bulgaria alone. Despite the prevalence of this social phenomenon, there is still a significant stigma associated with it, which can prevent victims from seeking help. HR practitioners in the public administration play a crucial role in identifying and supporting victims of domestic violence, as they interact with employees on a daily basis and are often the first to recognize signs of abuse. Early identification and referral are essential for ensuring that victims receive the necessary support and services to escape violence and rebuild their lives.
In 2023, the Center for the Study of Democracy organized a series of 15 comprehensive training sessions tailored for Human Resources specialists within both central and territorial state administrations. These sessions formed an integral part of the initiative "Supporting victims of domestic violence via a programme for capacity-building and awareness-raising among Human resourcEs specialists" (SHE).
Each training was a fusion of theoretical insights and practical applications, ensuring a hands-on learning experience for participants. The sessions were conducted by experts who had previously undergone dedicated training in the form of “train the trainer” sessions, conducted by CSD and its partners from Demetra Association and the Institute for Public Administration.
A recurring highlight, reiterated by participants at each training was the importance of challenging stereotypes, providing psychological support, and disseminating pertinent information about available institutions to aid victims in accessing justice.
Each training session concluded by equipping participants with essential resources. Attendees received a handbook, methodological guidelines, and an annotated work plan. Developed jointly by a multisectoral panel of experts – CSD’s researcher Iliana Boycheva, victim support pioneers Diana Videva, Ana Burieva, Iliana Balabanova from the Demetra and the liaison from Institute for Public Administraion Tanya Chikova. Тhe training materials aim at empowering HR specialists to offer support to victims of domestic violence while simultaneously fostering greater awareness among other public administration officials.