Krusada and Kadera: Successful cooperation against domestic violence

The organisations ‘Krusada’ and ‘Kadera’’ assist victims of domestic violence. Krusada has not been doing so for very long yet on Bonaire. Kadera has been doing so for more than 50 years in the Netherlands. What can both organisations learn from each other and what is the secret of their fruitful cooperation? Junny Josephina and Jeroen Traas, the passionate directors of these organisations, are happy to lift the veil on their cooperation and their collegial relationship, which is surprisingly open and reciprocal.

What type of organisation are Krusada and Kadera?

 Krusada and Kadera both work in the field of domestic violence departing from a different cultural and social context. Krusada was founded 24 years ago as an institution counselling addicts but today works with many more vulnerable target groups, such as former prisoners, people with physical or mental disabilities, and victims of domestic violence.

Junny: ‘Today, our organisation has five departments, one of which is a sheltered workshop. The core business of Krusada is counselling and not treatment. We provide solid, day-to-day counselling to make people more resilient. Our goal is to help people function better in society on what is personally achievable for them.’

As a foundation, Kadera supports victims and perpetrators of domestic violence and also carries out preventive activities. The organisation evolved from the ‘Blijf van mijn lijf huizen’ (battered women’s shelters) and the Berendien Stoel Foundation, which had already pioneered the field of domestic violence 50 years ago. Kadera accommodates victims in shelters in Zwolle and Enschede and also offers them outpatient help.

Kadera serves clients in all municipalities in the province of Overijssel and supports professional social workers in their counselling duties. Jeroen: ‘In recent years, our thinking about victims and perpetrators of domestic violence has evolved. We look differently at the system in which that violence occurs. We are happy to share our (systemic) insights and evidence-based counselling methodologies.’

Why do you cooperate?

The cooperation between Krusada and Kadera started 4 years ago at the request of the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. This was based on the idea that in the expansion and professionalisation of its women’s shelter activities, Krusada did not need to reinvent the wheel, but could link up with all the developments, which the approach to domestic violence in the Netherlands has gone through.

The initial contacts were made at the ‘No Mas No More’ conference in Aruba. Since then, there has been a structural exchange between the two organisations at both the operational and the strategic level. The cooperation is bearing fruit for both parties and will certainly be continued in the future.

How do you score your cooperation?

Krusada and Kadera have been working together for four years, but the personal collaboration between Junny and Jeroen dates back to 2020. Both directors score the cooperation a solid 8. Junny: ‘Our cooperation is a growth relationship. There is growth in the care provided by Krusada and the expertise, training, and consultation from Kadera has contributed substantially to this.’

‘Our working relationship started on the advice of VWS and over the years has grown into an equal, open, and friendly relationship in which we as directors stand shoulder to shoulder. There has never been a moment when Jeroen said, ‘ I do not have time.’ He is always willing to schedule appointments and catch up with me.’

What does this cooperation yield?

Jeroen: ‘When I took office, there had already been operational cooperation through one of our employees. We assist at that level with methodologies, procedures, manuals, and protocols. Krusada always determines what is appropriate and not appropriate for them on Bonaire. As a director, I regularly spar with Junny about his ambitions with Krusada. I am impressed by all the steps being taken.’

‘There is increasing reciprocity in the relationship. The cooperation with Krusada also broadens our perspective. If you really want to learn something new, is my firm belief, then you have to look across the border. You learn ten times more in a few days on Bonaire than at the umpteenth symposium in the Netherlands. Bonaire is a completely different environment and culture. As a result, you learn more about yourself.’

What do the staff members and clients on Bonaire notice of the cooperation?

Junny: ‘I see our staff growing professionally. They are more capable of handling difficult domestic violence cases in the right way. Before, the expertise was mainly concentrated at the team leader, now it is in the whole team. The cooperation with Linda and Sharon from Kadera is nice and low-threshold. As experts and trainers, they provide the team with specific guidance tools and take the culture and scale of the island into account.

‘In dealing with our clients, I also see tremendous growth. The client and her environment are at the centre of everything. The new knowledge does not vanish. We stay in close contact with Linda and Sharon. The quality of our counselling has increased and our throughput has accelerated. Our supervisors have more self-confidence thanks to this extra knowledge and expertise; they are now truly counselling more!’

What does Kadera learn from Krusada in terms of tackling domestic violence?

In the Netherlands, there is a transition under way in healthcare that is quite challenging. There is too little money and staff to meet the growing demand for care, including domestic violence. Care institutions must therefore increasingly rely on community-based facilities and the social circle of the client to promote the safety and recovery of victims of domestic violence.

Jeroen: ‘In the future, much more than now, we will have to tap into the social circle around the client to continue supporting that person after the care has ended. On Bonaire, social relationships and family connections are different from those in Zwolle and Enschede. There, they have been doing this for a long time. It offers us a new perspective from which we can learn a lot.’

Junny: ‘In domestic violence, social relationships are sometimes part of the problem, but often also part of the solution. Bonaire is small. Everyone knows each other. Because of that scale and limited resources and social workers, you are forced, so to speak, to involve the family circle in the recovery process. There are not so many other options to ensure the safety and recovery of your clients.’

What remains a challenge?

The official authorities on Bonaire (OLB and RCN) and the domestic violence chain are aware of the intensive cooperation between Krusada and Kadera. Yet there is a gap. Junny: ‘We are growing within Krusada in our approach to domestic violence. This makes us want to establish ourselves as a knowledge centre within the shelters on the islands. But sometimes the chain does not understand our approach, supported by Kadera. Sometimes the connection is missing. This sometimes causes friction in crisis situations.

Jeroen: ‘In the past, sheltering victims was often voluntary work with the best of intentions. Perpetrators were seen as the enemy and victims were encouraged to break all contact. In 50 years, our work has become highly professionalised. We work with evidence-based methodologies. Now, based on systemic thinking, we actually contact the perpetrator as soon as possible and involve them in the recovery process , provided it is safe. Not everyone understands that. For families, however, it is often important.’

What domestic violence taboos are still prevalent on Bonaire?

Junny: ‘Domestic violence is not always what it seems. Some time ago, a woman came to us who was black and blue. After months of investigation, it turned out that she was not the victim but the perpetrator of domestic violence, who wanted out of the relationship. By then, her husband had already lost his reputation and job. We see more and more male victims of domestic violence, but talking about it is still taboo.’

‘Recently, we have had seven cases of men seeking another home due to domestic violence. This is not how the request comes in, but the underlying reason was always physical, verbal, and emotional violence. Police and chain partners find this difficult and society is not ready for it. However, it is our job to convey this uncomfortable message.’

How do you keep the Krusada-Kadera cooperation successful?

Junny: ‘The formal answer is that you share your (cooperation) ambitions and plans in all layers of your organisation and make clear what you expect from each other. That also means creating consultation structures in which you continue to invest. Team leaders and care coordinators need to understand your vision of cooperation. So you should not impose it. They must become enthusiastic about it and want to go for it.’

Informally, much of that success depends on chemistry at a personal level, both directors feel. On the shop floor, Krusada team members work very well with Linda and Sharon, Kadera’s experts and trainers. The reciprocal sparring relationship between Junny and Jeroen is perhaps an even greater driver of the cooperation success. Junny: ‘The magic is in the personal click.’

The connection between the directors is important. Junny: ‘We can be open towards each other no matter what.’ It is about mutual respect for our organisations and each other and asking: What can we learn from each other? What do we get and bring to each other? For now, the directors have a lot to learn from each other. Indeed, recently both directors put their signature to 3 years of further cooperation!