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Prevention of domestic violence

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A family should be a safe place where the basic biological, psychological and social needs of all its members are met. When this important building block of society is affected by violence, its most vulnerable members, particularly children, are those who suffer the most harm. It is therefore our duty to raise awareness about this issue and prevent, investigate, resolve and punish perpetrators of incidents of domestic violence.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act defines violence as any form of physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence inflicted by one family member against another and/or neglect of a family member, stalking of a victim and corporal punishment of children. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of social and economic position, gender, age, ethnic origin or any other personal circumstance.

Protection of the victim

The competent authorities and organisations are obliged to give priority consideration to domestic violence and do everything in their power to protect victims thereof. Measures taken in this respect are commensurate with the level of threat posed to the victim. When domestic violence is identified, the victim is immediately referred to a crisis centre, where they are provided with expert assistance and accommodation. If the victim still needs accommodation support after the termination of their stay in the crisis centre, they can find shelter in a safe house or refuge. The victim has the right to free legal assistance and an assistant who accompanies them in all violence-related procedures, helps protect their integrity, assists them in finding solutions, and provides psychological support for them. If necessary, the police or the courts may prohibit the perpetrator of violence from approaching a particular place or person. On the proposal of the victim, the courts may prohibit the perpetrator of violence from entering the common dwelling and, if necessary, order the perpetrator to leave the dwelling to the exclusive use of the victim. With the perpetrator of violence being the person who is required to leave, the victim is no longer forced to leave their home and go to a safe house or a women’s refuge.

Children, as the most vulnerable social group, enjoy the highest level of protection, as do persons with disabilities, the elderly and persons with special needs.  The Domestic Violence Prevention Act stipulates that children are considered victims of violence even if they are only present where violence is perpetrated against other family members. Any person who suspects that a child may be a victim of violence is obliged to report their suspicion to a social work centre, the police or the State Prosecutor’s Office, even when bound by professional secrecy. The Domestic Violence Prevention Act also prohibits the exposure of children to mass media in cases of domestic violence so as to protect children from further violence as a result of pressure from the media and social stigmatisation.

Professional help for perpetrators of violence

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act focuses not only on the victim but also on the perpetrator of violence, since the perpetrator needs professional help in order to change their behaviour pattern(s). Perpetrators of violence may turn to social work centres, non-governmental organisations or their selected personal physician for professional help. If they are excessive alcohol users or drug addicts, we further advise them to attend an addiction treatment programme.