Domestic violence cases rise during crisis, but calls to hotline fall

Mobile phone.
Mobile phone. Source: Huko Aaspõllu/ERR

By the end of the first week of April, 286 intimate partner violence cases had been reported to the police so far this year, which is 30 percent higher than at the same time last year. However, the number of calls made to the victim support crisis phone has decreased by one third compared with the same period last year. These numbers suggest that people in coronavirus quarantine don't have the opportunity to inform anybody about their worries.

The coronavirus emergency situation, where families are quarantined together in the same rooms for days, is new for everybody, both domestic violence perpetrators and their victims, ETV current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported Tuesday evening.

Member of the Board of the Pärnu Women's Support Center Margo Orupõld said: "Today, everything is new and unknown, the violence circle or cycle has become shorter, it is more complex because the perpetrator is in a different situation. The country has set limits and now they need to think about how to behave in a situation where they have been shown the power to. This is a situation we and the women who are at home with them haven't considered."

According to the police, reports of violence against children have decreased, which could derive from the fact that abused children who can't leave their homes don't know where to ask for help.

Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Kati Arumäe said: "It could be that they are not at school, not with their friends. The more important thing now is then for the teachers, social workers who are in contact with them, to ask about the situation at home.

"We at the police have changed our behavior. For example, when reacting to call outs, being in contact with people we are evaluating the situation and asking whether people need help and if necessary we can provide them with help."

According to the Head of the Victim Support and Prevention Services Department of the Social Insurance Board, Jako Salla, an increase in domestic violence is expected.

"There is no basis in believing that there is less violence against children or that children see it less. More likely, when people are home, there are more conflicts and violence both against children and in intimate partner relationships. We are definitely expecting an increase and the real numbers are worse than the statistics show," Salla explained.

Salla encourages the public to pay attention to their surroundings during the crisis, and to report it if necessary.

"The important aspect is the people who know or suspect violence between their close ones or neighbors. We want to encourage these people during this time to approach the police, to speak directly to victims, or to discuss the situation with other neighbors or loved ones, because we have seen other people intervene in these situations - a very powerful way to stop a violent relationship," Salla said.

During the course of the emergency situation, there are women help centers working 24 hours a day, the victim support crisis line 116 006 and the children helpline 116 111. If somebody´s health or life is in danger, an immediate call has to be made to 112.


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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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