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Domestic violence

Domestic violence 

Domestic violence refers to violence against:

  • a current or former partner
  • a child
  • a close relative
  • another person close to the perpetrator.

Domestic violence often occurs at home or in other private places. The violence may have continued a long time and may not come to the police’s attention immediately. 

Domestic violence has considerable impacts on the entire intimate circle, even if only one member is the target. A victim of violence may be in a difficult position, if he/she is financially dependent on the perpetrator, for example.

Fear and shame often keep the victim from contacting the police. Violence is, however, always a crime and the perpetrator should face the consequences. Violent behaviour is only rarely a one-off event but instead, it tends to repeat itself, and become more serious. In the worst case scenario, a violent cycle may end in acts with no return.

A teddy bear sitting on a window sill looking out.

The police are obligated to report domestic violence

According to the law, the police are obligated to report violence in close relationships as part of their duties. The purpose of this is to intervene in the violence. The police may direct victims to apply for a restraining order or order a temporary restraining order that will be confirmed by a court. 

Forms of violence in close relationships can be, for example

  • intimate partner violence
  • mistreatment of a child
  • honour-based violence
  • mistreatment of the elderly
  • violence directed against the disabled sexual minorities and other special groups.

This is what you should do if you have fallen victim or are afraid of domestic violence

  • In emergencies, please call 112. In case of events that have taken place and are repeating, please file a report at the Police station or online.
  • Do contact the help services. The social services, the Victim Support Finland (RIKU), the Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters (ETKL) and many other organisations help victims of violence. Through these support and assistance services, you may find a support person who can discuss your situation in confidence and support you in filing the Police report and the following criminal proceedings. The websites of the support services provide useful information for the victims of domestic violence. Help is also offered to couples as well as to children who have witnessed violence.
  • A safety plan made in advance may be a way to be prepared for threatening situations. You will find instructions for making the plan online via Online Shelter.
  • Fear or shame may prevent people from seeking help. In that case, talking to a friend and asking for help may be the first step forward. Please remember you are not alone. Domestic violence can affect anyone, and it is not about age, gender, sexual orientation, culture or economic situation.

This is what you should do if you think a person close to you is a victim of domestic violence

  • Be courageous and raise your concerns. Please tell the victim that help is available; both the Police and organisations will provide it. Violence hardly ever stops on its own. Instead, it tends to persist and get worse.
  • For example, if you hear sounds from your neighbour and suspect it may be a case of actual or threatening violence, please call 112. Your call may save a life.
  • If you a worried for the care, health or safety of a child, adult or an aged person, you can report your concern to the social welfare services, for example, by using the forms on the webpages of different cities.
  • The Criminal Code (RL 15:10) imposes an obligation to tell the authorities, or the person who is the target of the threat, if there is knowledge of a aggravated crime in preparation. Such crimes may include rape, aggravated sexual abuse of children or aggravated physical abuse and battering. You can tip-off the Police by email or use the webpage without giving your name. Read more about how to leave a tip.

This is what you should do if you are afraid of resorting to domestic violence or if you already are guilty of it

Please have the courage to seek help. You will be helped for violent behaviour and the underlying reasons. Violence targeted at close persons often also causes anxiety, share and depression in the perpetrator.

Seeking help is the important first step to liberate oneself from violence. It is rare that violence would stop on its own. It also tends to be passed on from one generation to another as a model for solving problems. Therefore, it is very important to break the cycle of violence. The perpetrator is always responsible for the violence. 

There are various help services available. Please seek help before any concrete physical violence takes place. The services operate confidentially, and you can have them face-to-face, over the phone and online. 

  • Miessakit in an association that provides help to those who are victims of or have resorted to violence, and they also help to manage divorce problems. Their services are also available over the phone or in the form of online meetings. Link to Miessakit Association's website.
  • Miehen Linja is for the men who have moved to Finland, who have already been violent or are afraid of taking violent action in a close relationship. Link to Miehen Linja's website.
  • Women who need to process their own violent behaviour or are afraid of it are supported by Maria Akatemia. Link to Maria Akatemia's website.
  • Support center Varjo offers help to those who suffer persecution after a divorce or separation. Link to Varjo's website.
  • The Federation of Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters (ETKL) provides open services to those who have been violent or are afraid of resorting to violence. Link to the Online Shelter's website.
  • In cases of intoxicant and addiction problems, you can contact the A clinic of your own municipality. Link to AddictionLink's website.
  • For issues related to mental health, your own healthcare centre is the first place to contact. Link to Mental Hub's website.