“The message I want to spread is how important it is to share stories”
Cátia Freitas is 33 years old and from Portugal. Since 2012, Cátia has been part of the self-advocacy group of CERCIPOM and participated in meetings for self-advocates throughout the country. She is a client at CERCIPOM’s Center for Occupational Activities.
Cátia took part in Inclusion Europe’s leadership training for self-advocates and family members. The topic was violence against women.
Cátia lives together with her mother, sister and stepfather. She likes sewing and currently works at a prêt-a-porter shop. Her dream is to get a paid job so she can manage her money based on her needs. She would also like to have her own house and family and finally, visit Brazil, “because I have family there and because it is a very joyful place and different from what I know in Portugal.”
These are Cátia’s experiences during the leadership training:
“I’ve never been on a plane. I never travelled out of Portugal. Through the group of self-advocates I had this opportunity – to represent Portugal and my colleagues with intellectual disabilities in Brussels.
The city of Brussels is very beautiful with many statues and gardens. It is a very different city from the ones I know in Portugal.
I came to Brussels and spoke to Members of the European Parliament because of one topic: Violence against women with disabilities. This was the theme we discussed and worked on during the 3-day conference in Brussels.
I wish I could stop the violence in my house.
For me, it’s a very hard topic. It moves me a lot, even when I listen to other people’s stories. This is because I am a victim of violence, too. My family environment is very difficult, we argue a lot, I cannot give my opinion. Sometimes, out of fear, even asking for help is hard, because I’m very nervous. I wish I could stop the violence in my house.
On the second day of the conference, there was a girl who shared her story. She was a victim of violence. On that day I cried when I heard those words.
I was unable to say something. I cannot say anything to defend women who suffer from violence. Or defend myself.
“If we talk, someone will listen to us”
I have many difficulties. Many fears. This blocks how I think and act, because I get very nervous and then I do not dare to speak, and all of this ends up with allowing the violence to exist in my house and not being able to make decisions.
This trip to Brussels, to a new city, to a different country, with new experiences, made me think about how all countries are different, and at the same time have such difficult problems in common. Even in the richest families, even in the best houses, in the best cities, there is violence and people with disabilities that are hurt. These people need help, they need to be able to share their fears and talk about their problems, so that together we can make a difference and stop people with disabilities (and women) from being victims every day.
The message I want to spread is how important it is to share stories. And to learn to speak.
Speaking in a group is important for me, but also very difficult: I do not know the right words and I cannot express myself in a group, I am struck by a fear that leaves me white in thought, lost.
But if we talk, someone will listen to us and then we can create strategies and ways to act to prevent becoming a victim. Then we can avoid that in the future there are more victims.”
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“The message I want to spread is how important it is to share stories.”
Cátia Freitas is 33 years old.
She is from Portugal.
Cátia has been part of a self-advocacy group called CERCIPOM since 2012.
Cátia took part in a leadership training with Inclusion Europe, in Brussels.
Brussels is a city in Belgium.
The training was about violence against women.
Cátia lives with her mother, sister and stepfather.
She works in a clothes shop and likes sewing.
Cátia dreams of having a paid job so she can manage her own money.
She would also like to have her own house and family.
Finally, she would like to visit Brazil
because she has family in Brazil.
Cátia shared her experiences of the training:
It was her first time on a plane,
and her first time out of Portugal.
She thought Brussels is beautiful,
And very different from cities in Portugal.
As part of the training, she talked with Members of the European Parliament.
They talked about stopping violence against women.
This is an important topic for Cátia.
She is a victim of violence.
Her family argues a lot.
She gets very nervous and is afraid to ask for help.
She said, “I wish I could stop violence in my house”.
Cátia told us that on the second day,
she heard a story about a girl who was also a victim of violence.
Cátia cried when the other girl shared her story.
Cátia feels she cannot defend herself
and other women who suffer from violence.
She says that coming to Brussels made her think about
how all countries are different, but have the same problems.
Even in the richest families,
even in the best houses,
in the best countries,
there is violence and people with disabilities are getting hurt.
These people need help.
They need to be able to share their fears and talk about their problems.
Cátia says it is very important that people share their stories.
She finds it difficult to speak in a group.
But she says it is important to learn how to speak in front of people.
She says, “’if we talk, someone will hear us.”
Then we can start to make plans together
to make sure there are fewer victims of violence in the future.
We can make a difference
and help stop people with disabilities being hurt every day.
You can read more about our leadership training
on the topic of violence against women:
The article about everything that happened at the leadership training: “I felt that my opinion matters”
An interview with a participant: Interview with Mathilde Cotman