Ana Bella Estevez

Ashoka Fellow
Sevilla, SV, Spain
Fellow Since 2010

Citation

This profile was prepared when Ana Bella Estevez was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2010.
The New Idea
Ana Bella is challenging the traditional victim mindset and approach of resources intended for battered women. She has created a holistic approach that leverages their strengths and competencies over their victimization, and includes key stakeholders from multiple sectors.

Ana Bella is creating peer-to-peer networks that bring together women who have successfully overcome abuse with those who are undergoing abuse and want to break free. Through these networks, she has proven that close references and support from real women who have reconstructed their lives are more efficient in helping women to start their own process of separation and eventually legally report their abuser. To reach those 80 percent of battered women who do not legally report their abuser, Ana Bella focuses on the benefits of “breaking away” instead of the dangers of remaining in an abusive relationship. By building on the strengths of survivors (rather than only focus on treating the negative consequences of domestic violence), she is reducing the time it takes for women to begin the process of moving away from their abuse. Additionally, due to the simplicity of joining an informal peer-to-peer network, Ana Bella is creating shorter bridges for battered women to reach the point of reporting, which is generally the major access point to official resources and financial support. This network is also filling the gaps in existing resources, as volunteer networks provide key support more efficiently and are better adapted to women’s real needs.

Ana Bella also works with the government to change the prevalent current approach of battered women as victims which is at the core of many of inefficiencies in the system. By focusing on the positive abilities women have developed through their tragic experience—strength, determination, and ability to work under extreme pressure—she is improving public resources for abused women. From how staff interacts with women when they first approach social services, to the type of financial support offered, including housing and work placement, Ana Bella is assisting these entities to become more efficient by learning from women survivors.

In order to transform the way society views women who have suffered abusive violence, Ana Bella also works with the media to change how domestic violence is portrayed. Instead of showcasing negative images of desperate, weak, violated and marginalized women, she provides positive examples of women living new lives. Ana Bella is proving that messages conveying hope and a plausible way out are more effective in encouraging women to initiate a separation process and report their abuser. This approach is also helping to change how corporations perceive and support abused women employees. By eliminating stigmatization at work and contributing to their speedier reintegration into the job market, women are able to achieve the necessary financial autonomy to safely rebuild their own lives.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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