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This year’s conference theme “Protecting Fundamental Freedoms, a Victim’s Perspective” provides an opportunity to discuss the role of victim support communities, law enforcement agents, health professionals, academics, journalists and the private sector in guaranteeing the promotion and respect of victims’ rights and democracy, and in safeguarding the rule of law.

You can register for workshops when registering for the conference.

WORKSHOP ORGANISED ON DAY 1 (7 June 2023) | 15:00 - 17:00 CEST

WORKSHOP A | The power of youth: challenging organizations to think young in order to better reach and serve young clients

Led by Beatrice Cremers and Bo Speich from Slachtofferhulp & Benedikt Wemmer from Weisser Ring

This two-part interactive workshop is dedicated to young people. We will not only explore the importance of young people as employees in organizations, but also examine how victim organizations can better meet the needs of young victims.

PART 1: Young people in organizations

Young employees bring unique perspectives, new knowledge, energy, creativity, and leadership potential. In this part of the workshop, we will discuss the desires of young people in organizations, how the knowledge of young employees adds value, and how it can be utilized to improve service delivery.

PART 2: Reaching and supporting young clients more effectively

The second part of the workshop focuses on how an organization can better connect with young victims. We want to encourage you to empathize with the world of young people. What do young people go through? What influences their decision to seek help or not? In this workshop, we want to invite you to think about how we can better reach and assist young victims.

We will break into smaller groups for this part, with interactive work assignments, and then come together to discuss.

The goal of the workshop is to learn from each other and exchange knowledge. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences, exchange tips and ideas, and reflect on ways to better utilize young people in our organizations and improve our ability to reach and help young clients.

WORKSHOP B | Having the courage to stand up for your beliefs online – united against hate speech and threatening behaviour

Led by Céline Sturm, WEISSER RING e.V.

WEISSER RING has spent decades helping people to stand up for their beliefs and wants to motivate people to take the courage they have in real life online. Because when people take responsibility, look more closely and help, it can successfully create a climate of safety and trust. This is especially true in the digital world, where users frequently encounter hate speech and threatening behaviour. Many people know how it should go in theory. But what happens in reality? Does doing the right thing always pay off?

The aim of this workshop is to give attendees the knowledge they need to actively take a stand against hate crime. The workshop will cover:

  • how hate crime is expressed,
  • what you can do if you encounter hate speech online,
  • which authorities you can contact in Germany,
  • and how you can effectively oppose these instances.

Attendees’ questions and needs will be addressed through a tried-and-tested combination of theory, real-life experiences, and interactive discussion so that they can apply the takeaways from this workshop in their practical work, be informed about the topic, and learn how others deal with this important issue. We would be delighted to have you attend our workshop.

WORKSHOP C | Specialised Integrated Intervention Strategies: examples of gender-based and child sexual violence

Led by Mafalda Valério and Carla Ferreira, APAV (Portuguese Association for Victim Support).

PART 1: Integrated Intervention Strategy for Gender-Based Violence

The prevalence of gender-based violence as well as its impact and negative consequences provide a global health issue and the continued need for targeted intervention strategies is evident. Furthermore, risk factors such as intersectionality or re-victimization, highlight the need for interventions based on the individual context and characteristics of each victim.

We acknowledge and further promote the idea that intervention strategies for gender-based violence are required to include multi-disciplinary support to successfully address all the needs and risks a victim is confronted with. Therefore, the intervention strategy´s distinction between intervention in crisis (emotional help, development of active adaptation strategies, restoring functionality) and urgent intervention (time-sensitive need for support and protection resulting in dialogue with local authorities) is extremely relevant. We, as a victim support organization, recognize our role in providing an integrated intervention in order to give individually tailored and efficient support, and to act as a protector.

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn how APAV approaches the challenges mentioned above, by implementing their integrated intervention strategy based on individual needs and risk assessment, to guide intervention and different types of necessary and integrated support.

PART 2: Sexual Violence: Prevention and Intervention for Children and Youths

There continues to be an urgent need for practical investigation, prevention, and intervention targeting children and young victims of sexual violence, since children are in a particularly vulnerable position of risk and negative consequences are impactful and long-lasting; therefore, prevention is especially relevant. We are convinced that prevention strategies for children and youths are all about establishing and training protection factors that allow them to realistically assess possible dangers or risks, to make use of competencies and skills developed to avoid such situations, but also to be more sensitive and empathic towards victims.

In this sense, we as a victim support organization acknowledge our responsibility to act as an educator, promotor of support, protection and guidance, not only for children but also their families, professionals, and their community and peers. Furthermore, we take responsibility to provide intervention measures in case of victimization.

In this workshop, participants will have the opportunity to learn how APAV approaches the challenges mentioned above, through prevention and intervention strategies aimed at children and youths. A special emphasis is given to prevention and sensitization from an early age, as well as the acquisition of knowledge and competencies through interactive teaching and training methods.

WORKSHOP D | Promoting respect of victims’ rights through the implementation of restorative practices (Protect project)

Led by Victim Support Europe.

This workshop focuses on good practices as well as on policy work in the field of victim support and restorative justice. Thanks to the work done within the two-year Erasmus+ funded project “PROTECT”, partners from Italy, Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Portugal took part in a series of training to exchange good practices on restorative justice and to further promote victims’ rights. The project served also as a platform for Victim Support Europe (VSE) and the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) reflect together about the upcoming revision of the EU Victims’ Rights Directive (VRD) and influence policy work at the European level. 

The workshop will start with a brief presentation on the current European framework for victims’ access to restorative justice. This discussion will touch upon the current challenges (including training, practice standards, lack of cooperation between services, the fact that in some jurisdictions restorative justice may be offender-focused/initiated), opportunities (to respond to victims’ needs to be heard and to repair) and the common position of EFRJ and VSE on restorative justice in light of the VRD revision. The workshop will give space to project partners to share good practices that can better support victims’ needs, as well as to reflect on the implementation of European and national legislation and their impact in terms to access to (restorative) justice for victims. Frontal presentations will be sparkled with different interactive exercises to engage with participants. 

WORKSHOP E | Protecting fundamental freedoms. A closer look at the EU directive and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)

Led by Robin Fontijne an Eva Fechner, Slachtofferhulp.

Several protective measures can be discovered both in the EU’s Directive minimum standards for victims, and in the European Convention on Human Rights. In this workshop, we will provide an overview of various protective measures and discuss how they can protect victims. We will dive into individual needs assessment, privacy for victims, positive state obligations and protective measures against repeated and secondary victimization.

The workshop will also go into the use of protective measures in practice. How do Victim Support Netherlands (VSN) employees request protective measures for victims? How does the Knowledge, Research and Development department of VSN support these employees? Where are the bottlenecks in the protection of victims and how should they be dealt with?

WORKSHOP F | Sexual Offences Legal Advisors: giving victims of sexual crime in Northern Ireland a voice

Led by Jolena Flett, Victim Support NI 

In 2019, former judge Sir John Gillen published over 250 recommendations to improve the way the criminal justice system treated victims of Sexual Violence. Part of those recommendations was access to free legal advice and support to victims of Sexual Violence up to the point of trial. This would afford victims of serious sexual offences a dedicated solicitor to advise, guide and act on their behalf for any pre-trial legal needs such as disclosure of medical history, access to digital devices and helping them to understand and submit reviews to the Public Prosecution Service for a decision of No Prosecution.

Since 2020, Victim Support NI has been hosting the Sexual Offences Legal Advisor pilot project to help mould and shape what this service will look like in future based on client experience and feedback.

In this side event we would like to present the live experiences of victims and their journey in the criminal justice system and how the SOLA project has changed that. We would also like to present what the project has encountered and learned over the past two years and share our learning.

The presentation will share case studies and participate in the Q&A.

WORKSHOP G | In-depth case examples of fundamental freedom violations

PART 1: Boys’ right to be free of sexual abuse and exploitation online (LEAGUE project)

Led by Denitsa Kozhuharova, Law & Internet Foundation

Limiting online sexual Exploitation and Abuse Gender based on Underaged boys by Educating experts (LEAGUE) is a project aiming to prevent the online sexual abuse of boys aged 10-18. The project is implemented in two main streams – the first one encompasses international and national training programmes, while the second is dedicated to the elaboration of an Internet Platform and Chatbot.

The Victim Identification and Risk Factors workshop is a small group exercise aiming to stimulate participants to open up and share their experience in recognising risk factors of child sexual abuse of boys online. In particular, how to identify signs of abuse and how to detect the boys’ reaction to abuse. Participants will be divided into groups of 4-5 persons, where each group will be handed exercise cards on the following topics:

  • Individual factors
  • Family factors
  • Behavioural signs
  • Coping and response mechanisms as a reaction to the abuse
  • Disclosure
  • What recognising the factors allows us to do

Each group will deliberate for 30-40 minutes and then share its conclusions with the whole workshop, while the moderator of the session will work on a canvas noting the key results. The presentation of the conclusions will allow for a group discussion, exchange of ideas, good practices and working methods, while the moderator will end with a summary. The workshop will conclude by inviting each participant to choose a dixit card to evaluate their experience, based on the respective visual of the card, participants’ feeling of the day and obtained know-how.

PART 2: Femicide as a violation of the human rights to life, liberty & personal security – findings and recommendations 2017-2020

Led by Aurela Bozo, Center for Legal Civic Initiatives

This workshop aims to reflect on the situation of Femicide in Albania, by sharing the findings and recommendations of a study on Femicide in Albania during the period 2017-2020.

It will cover three components:

  1. The legal situation on femicide and it’s level of compliance with the obligations stemming from the Istanbul Convention;
  2. Findings and recommendations from monitoring court decisions on femicide in Albania;
  3. A professional capacity assessment addressing gender based violence.

The Center for Legal Civic Initiatives (CLCI) organises training for judges, prosecutors and judicial police officers on the effective criminal prosecution of cases of domestic and gender based violence. Their experience will be used to actively discuss Albania’s achievements and gaps in addressing gender-based violence. CLCI’s advocacy experience using the standards of the Istanbul Convention, and the recommendations of GREVIO, Committee of Parties will be shared interactively with participants.


  • Interactive discussion by participants based on the findings of the FEMPLATZ study in Albania;
  • Sharing good practices and inviting participants to share their countries’ good practices;
  • Lessons learnt;
  • Brainstorming to identify the next steps.

WORKSHOP ORGANISED ON DAY 2 (8 June 2023) | 15:00 - 17:00 CEST

WORKSHOP A | Virtual reality court familiarisation: a core fundamental right to access justice

Led by Kate Wallace, Victim Support Scotland

For many, giving evidence in a criminal trial can be more traumatic than the crime itself.  We know the victims and witnesses find court building intimidating places and often they are not designed with victims’ needs in mind. At Victim Support Scotland we offer people affected by crime, in-person court familiarisation visits to prepare them for this unique experience. This early exposure to the court together with our support can help to reduce traumatisation/ re-traumatisation and encourage confidence. However, in person visits are not always possible due to travel time, court and witness availability and a number of other factors and even when they do happen it is usual for only one visit which may not be enough for a person who is highly traumatised.

To address this challenge we have worked with the Scottish Government and Sentireal (a Virtual Reality content creator) to design and develop a unique virtual reality (VR) court familiarisation visit solution.  This solution allows victims and witnesses to experience the court environment, learn about court processes, and interact with court and prosecution personnel using a Virtual Reality headset from a location outside the court. As well as being used in a trauma-informed setting, this technology allows for multiple visits if needed which can be really helpful for some victims and witnesses.  Using this technology will help to improve people affected by crimes experience of the criminal justice system, and ultimately support them to feel more empowered to find the strength to give their best evidence.

WORKSHOP B | Tackling Gender-Related Violence from an intersectional perspective; resources for professional education/training of front line practitioners developed in European projects.

Led by Dr Pam Alldred, Professor at the Nottingham Trent University & gigi guizzo, Development Manager at Rinova Málaga.

Dr Pam Alldred, Professor at the Nottingham Trent University and gigi guizzo, Development Manager at Rinova Málaga, will present a number of resources from past and present projects.

This workshop-presentation introduces practical material developed in EU projects across different countries and available for free in 10 languages (EN, SP, FR, GR, RO, IT, EK, CA, DE, GR). It offers information on how to create mechanisms, and design and implement training to better detect and support victims of racism and/or Gender-Related Violence (GRV). The resources promote appropriate referral (be supportive but know your limits and seek professional help, create local support networks), and give practical tips on how to design and implement inclusive training with an intersectional perspective.

Specific examples will show how to use the resources with different front line workers, including youth work practitioners, public or civic support services, medical staff, police, university staff etc.

Some resources that will be presented include:

The workshop will introduce the term Gender Related Violence (GRV) as LGBTQI+ inclusive, and illustrate with examples that training tackling GRV must be designed with an intersectional perspective. This will open up space to make visible underlying power structures specific to each training group, and help trainers to remain adaptable to ever changing circumstance and situations, to each training group’s different personal and professional experiences.

WORKSHOP C | Fundamental freedoms: considerations on how to achieve victim rights for a broad spectrum of victims

Led by Christina Woudhuizen, Slachtofferhulp.

Who is or is not a ‘victim’? Which organisation is responsible for which victims and who has what to offer? What expertise and support is needed with particular victim groups?  What considerations should we make when a specific group of affected people presents with a need for support? When is our service of added value to them?

Victim Support Netherlands is familiar with several projects and pilots around victim groups that do not fall directly within the organisations’ target group policy. Think of whistleblowers, athletes who’ve been violated by their trainers, survivors of fatal workplace accidents and victims of the Dutch childcare allowance affair.

In addition, Victim Support Netherlands focuses on bystanders, people who are close to the victims and want to help, and professionals.

How do we reach and support all these people?

In this workshop, we will give an introduction to the Dutch target group policy and the (project-based) services provided to some special target groups. We also will discuss dilemmas, an assessment framework, and preconditions for victim support services.

WORKSHOP D | “I could never have done it without you” – insights and inspiration for delivering victim/witness support in court as a fundamental part of justice

Led by Victim Support Sweden (as coordinator of the COVIS project consortium).

Victim Support Sweden, with five of our partner organisations, leads the COVIS project – Court based support services for victims and witnesses of crime. The project aims to build knowledge and provide the tools needed to establish and deliver quality court based support services for victims and witnesses of crime, to meet the needs and rights of all victims/witnesses participating in criminal proceedings. By capturing expertise from across Europe and sharing best practice on how to deliver court based support, the project serves to:

  1. Promote the rights of all victims of crime
  2. Improve application of victims´ rights and victims´ ability to access their rights in practice
  3. Better meet the needs of all victims and witnesses called to give evidence in a criminal trial, minimising the risk of secondary victimisation and empowering the victim/witness to overcome the negative consequence of crime
  4. Contribute to a safe environment in court, strengthening victims´ and witnesses´ ability to provide their best possible evidence, and thereby supporting the effective and fair administration of criminal justice
  5. Support the effective and coherent application of EU law in the area of the rights of victims of crime, in line with the EU strategy on victims´ rights (2020-2025)

Court based support has so far been a peripheral support method amid VSE events and members. In our side event, we would therefore like to emphasise the role and value of court based support services and the ways in which court based support can help victims access safe justice. The session will include a panel discussion, identifying the various ways in which court based support is organised across different EU countries. Key features of court based support will be highlighted and how countries have chosen to organise support in court to help ensure that victims/witnesses are able to give their best possible evidence. The session will also specifically highlight the role of witnesses, since they often play a key role in victims´ ability to reach justice, despite having few rights of their own. Finally, court based support services do not function in isolation – they are dependent on well-functioning partnerships and cooperation with criminal justice partners. Given the topic and target group of the conference, we therefore suggest that our side event also has a key focus on how to develop partnerships with criminal justice agencies and which practical working arrangements help to deliver the best possible support service in practice.

WORKSHOP E | Ensuring the right to support for victims of violence and abuse. Overcoming barriers to support services as part of an aid continuum: the example of professional helplines and specialised services of the Centres for General Welfare Work (CAW) in Flanders, Belgium.

Led by Wim Van de Voorde (coordinator of Helpline 1712), Lily de Clercq (Staff Member VLOCO [1]) and Mieke Van Durme, Guy Vandervurst (CAW Oost-Vlaanderen) 

The focus of this workshop is on victims of violence and abuse, including victims of gender-based violence, vulnerable groups and those involved in violence and abuse. The workshop will be interactive using infographics, Q&A, simulations, statements, … to stimulate the audience to broaden its perspective on victim support using helplines and the support services of the Centres for General Welfare Work.

Workshop’s objectives

  • Participants understand how helpline 1712 works as part of an aid continuum
  • Participants understand how VLOCO works as a support line for professionals as part of an aid continuum
  • Participants understand how helplines use their partnership with the underlying support services of the Centers for General Welfare Work, to ensure the right to support or victims of violence and abuse.
  • Participants understand the view and approach of an aid continuum regarding domestic and other forms of violence.
  • Participants get a first introduction to the relational, couple-oriented and persisting approach of couples in case of (situational) partner violence.
  • Participants provide input on the extent to which the aid continuum and the approach differ or have similarities in other European countries

Introduction to organisers

1712 is a Flemish helpline for everyone with a question about violence, abuse and child abuse. The helpline is one of the largest professional helplines and one of the most accessible support initiatives in Flanders (Belgium). 1712 is a cooperation between the Centres for General Welfare Work and the Vertrouwenscentra Kindermishandeling or Trust Centres for Child Abuse.

VLOCO is a Flemish support line and centre of expertise for professionals who need information and advise about a specific situation of elder abuse. Professionals can consult VLOCO for free and anonymously on any situation or suspect of abuse of older people. Collaborating with other organisations, such as the helpline 1712 and the Centres for General Welfare is very important. VLOCO also supports professionals by developing tools and organizing workshops to enhance their expertise.

General welfare centres help people with all their questions and problems related to welfare, including questions and problems related to violence. Couples and individuals faced with domestic violence can rely upon several support services offered by the Centers for General Welfare, ranging from voluntary help to more far-reaching and high-impact services.

[1] Vlaams Ondersteuningscentrum Ouderenmis(be)handeling = Flemish support centre for elderly abuse

WORKSHOP F | Victims of terrorism to highlight gender needs and its impact on youth issues

Led by Phillipe Vansteenkiste (V-EUROPE) and Fatima Haider (The Grief Directory).

Fatima and Phillipe are both victims of terrorism (VoT) who have been working for many years to providing a better understanding of the needs of VoT and implementing appropriate support.

They would like to bring forward their common expertise on victims of terrorism to highlight the issue of gender needs, and its impact on youth issues.

The goal of the workshop is to set out and explore the following:

  • Highlighting the importance of, strengthening and centralising the role of women who are victims of terrorism
  • Underscoring the situation and practices to improve and reform existing support for the welfare of women victims of terrorism.
  • Exploring commonalities and paying attention to cultural specifics for a centralised, more positive role for women in rehabilitating other women victims as well as other genders and vulnerable groups of victims of terrorism including youths and children.

WORKSHOP G | Trauma Notifications to Crime Victims

Led by Staci Beers (FBI).

The way family members are notified that their loved one has died can impact their grief and mourning process.  The death notification is often the first time law enforcement interacts with the family.  As such, law enforcement needs to be trained in advance of meeting with the family to deliver this life-altering news.  The FBI launched the Trauma Notification Team initiative training special agents and task force officers in a four-step model to deliver these notifications.
At the completion of this workshop, participants will:
  • explain the four-step model
  • incorporate a trauma-informed approach to trauma notifications
  • discuss key considerations
  • apply the four-step model to mass violence incidents
  • practice the model through scenario-based discussion