Domestic violence describes a situation where the perpetrator of violence is a current or former intimate partner, parent, child, other close relative or friend of the victim. Violence against women is a blanket term for all gender-based violent acts that cause or may cause physical, sexual, psychological or financial harm or suffering, including threats of such acts, forcing the victim or arbitrarily depriving the victim of liberty, whether in public or in private. Violence against women is a significant human rights issue affecting the equality and health of women worldwide. Violence against women and domestic violence are found in all cultures, in all social classes and in all age groups.
Violence may be physical, psychological or sexual. Also, neglect or preventing the fulfilment of basic needs for children, elderly persons or disabled persons may constitute violence. Often the various forms of violence combine and mingle, leading the same person to experience various forms of violence concurrently or consequently.
In Finland, nearly half of all women have experienced physical or sexual violence or both in their lives. Surveys show that nearly as many men as women have experienced domestic violence, but victims of serious violence tend to be women more often, and women also sustain more injuries and more serious injuries than men. The majority of those who die as a result of domestic violence are women.
Violence manifests itself in different ways in relationships, depending on the life situation, age and attitudes of the people involved. Sometimes violence may begin so subtly that it is difficult to even identify it as violence. For instance, violence may begin as name-calling, financial restrictions or isolation from other human contacts. It is important to break the cycle of violence in time to prevent it from becoming sustained or escalating. No violence should be accepted or tolerated, not even a little.
Here are various forms of violence, with lists of acts that they may describe.
- Physical violence: shoving, punching, kicking, pulling the hair, hitting the head, scratching, tearing, shaking, using a firearm or edged weapon, threatening physical violence
- Psychological violence: subjugation, criticism, name-calling, disdain, control, restriction of social interaction, morbid jealousy, isolation, breaking things, harming pets, or threatening any of the above or suicide
- Sexual violence: rape, attempted rape, coercion into various forms of sexual activity or sexual intercourse, threatening sexual violence, sexual debasement, forcing into pornography, prohibiting use of contraception, forcing an abortion, restricting sexual self-determination
- Financial violence: preventing independent use of money, preventing participation in financial decision-making or forcing the handing over of own money to another person, threatening financial violence or blackmail
- Stalking: repeated unwanted contacts, spreading false information, destroying property, intimidation, following, spying, theft and misuse of personal data
- Abuse or negligence: leaving a child, elderly person or disabled person without care, help or treatment in situations where the victim depended on them, harming another person with drugs, intoxicants, chemicals or solvents
- Cultural or religious violence: forcing compliance with a religious conviction, threat of violence or use of violence with references to religion to culture as justification, e.g. honour violence, threats rooted in religion
Domestic violence often has extremely serious physical and psychological consequences. Domestic violence may cause physical or mental damage, developmental disorders, denial of basic needs or even death. Domestic violence also often affects social relationships. Family members, particularly children, suffer from domestic violence even if the violence is not aimed specifically at them. For a child, being exposed to violence between family members is just as damaging as being a victim of violence.
Domestic violence is rarely a one-off occurrence. Without an intervention, domestic violence tends to recur and become more frequent and more severe. As long as the violence remains a secret at home or in the relationship, it can live a life of its own and escalate into something really serious without anyone being able to stop it. The first step in breaking the cycle of violence is to talk to someone and to get help. By opening the curtain of violence and talking about your seemingly hopeless situation, you will have a chance of breaking free.
Take the first step. Phone us.
If you are afraid or have to be cautious at home, in an intimate relationship or with family members, your relationship is not what it should be. Do not wait for the situation to get worse or even allow it to continue as it is. The quicker you find the courage to talk about it, the sooner things can get better.
When you phone Nollalinja, you will talk to a professional confidentially and with no fear of repercussions. The Nollalinja professional will help you understand your situation and how to cope with it to move forward. Talking is the first step to stopping violence.