Domestic violence extends beyond family walls

Publication date 2.11.2021 10.01

In November, the Police, Victim Support Finland (RIKU) and the Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters (ETKL) run reminders on their social media sites to underline the fact that each of us may play a key role in breaking the circle of violence.

Domestic violence is a phenomenon that can affect anyone. It is not about age, gender, sexual orientation, culture or economic situation. Due to the varied impacts of violence, it may be difficult to ask for help. Those witnessing domestic violence often ask themselves how they could help.

In November, the Police, RIKU and ETKL run a publication called Recognise distress in their social media channels to remind us about the importance of assistance to break the circle of domestic violence.

- Violence or the threat of violence often makes people less capable of action. The victims of crime sometimes tell they wished someone, for example, the neighbours had reacted and made an alarm in a violent situation where they themselves were not able to do that. This is what we should do, in other words, call the Emergency Response Centre if we hear sounds of violence next door. Your call may even save a life. Domestic violence is not a family’s internal matter, it is a crime, Chief Superintendent Pekka Heikkinen of the National Police Board emphasises.

Have courage to ask

The Police site contains information on the ways to intervene with domestic violence. For example, if you have become concerned for a close one or, say, colleague, you should have the courage to ask how they are doing and to talk about your concern. Should the concern be founded, it is good to provide support for the victim to seek help.

- It is often easier to talk about violence to a friend or another people close by, rather than to a professional or the Police. At the same time, an outsider should understand that violence is a many-sided problem with lots of associated fear and uncertainty about the future. For example, it may be very difficult to break away from a violent relationship, Riina Karjalainen, expert in violence prevention work at the Federation of Mother and child homes and Shelters (ETKL) points out.

The authorities and organisations provide help in cases of domestic violence. The shelters are open 24/7 and always available when the intimate relationship is characterised by violence or the threat of it. Those who exercise violence can also have help and support. It is advisable to seek help already when you are afraid of potentially taking violent actions. Support services are also there for those who have witnessed violence.

- More and more people seek help as reflected in the customer numbers of the support organisations. We encourage people to contact us with as little hesitation as possible, Leena-Kaisa Åberg, Managing Director of RIKU underlines.

Police competence enhanced through training and special project

Currently, the National Police Board is running a project, funded by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, called MARAK, with the objective of enhancing the Police competence in recognising, intervening with and preventing domestic violence and violence against women. The project also involves the development of practical tools for risk assessment, more active multi-professional cooperation, crime investigation and helping the parties of the crime towards the support and assistance services. 

The Police competence is also developed within the nationwide training programme for 2021-2022, prepared by the Police University College, to be obligatory for all those in the Police who work with issues involving domestic violence.

- Our Recognise distress publication in the social media is also a reminder to ourselves in the authorities that we are often the first ring in the chain for intervening with violence. There is always room for improvement in recognising various forms of domestic violence and in intervening with it in collaboration with other authorities and third sector actors, Chief Superintendent Heikkinen says.

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