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One in three men in Estonia experience intimate partner violence

Six percent of men say their partner has deliberately thrown something at them or punched them.
Six percent of men say their partner has deliberately thrown something at them or punched them. Source: SCANPIX/Imago images

The large-scale relationship survey conducted by Statistics Estonia reveals that 33 percent of men, that is, one in three men in Estonia, have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime.

Jana Bruns, project manager at Statistics Estonia, said that, according to the survey, 32 percent of men aged 18–74 have experienced psychological violence, 8 percent physical violence, and 1 percent sexual violence. Experience of violence is the most common among younger men aged 18–29, with 39 percent, and the least common among older men aged 65–74, with 24 percent.

Psychological violence is the biggest problem

"Twenty percent of men say that their interaction with another woman has led to the man's partner becoming angry or having unfounded suspicions of infidelity. Seventeen percent of men have felt degraded, humiliated or insulted by their partner, either in private or in front of other people," Bruns said.

A slightly smaller proportion of men, 13 percent, said that their partner has restricted their contact with friends or prevented them from pursuing hobbies, for example. Men also reported having their activities tracked by their partner (9 percent), as well as feeling frightened or intimidated by their partner yelling or breaking things (9 percent).

Two thirds of ever-partnered men have experienced psychological violence by a former intimate partner and one third by their current partner. The share of men who have experienced psychological violence by both a former and the current partner or by several former partners is smaller, with 10 percent.

More than half of men (60 percent) have experienced psychological violence at least once in their lives. Less than 5 percent of men experience regular or ongoing psychological violence. "The statistics indicate that, in general, men decide to break off violent relationships, as just 1.5 percent of men have experienced frequent violence by their current partner," Bruns said.

In addition to psychological violence, men also suffer physical violence. "Six percent of men said that their partner has thrown something at them or slapped them, so that the victim was hurt or felt threatened. Four percent of the respondents say that they have been pushed or shoved or had their hair pulled by their partner. Three percent of men say that their partner has deliberately punched or kicked them or hit them with a hard object," Bruns said. If men have experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, they have also been physically harmed in nearly a third of such cases.

Men avoid talking about problems

The relationship survey also studied various factors that decrease or increase the likelihood of violence. For example, the results show that the occurrence of violence is not influenced by where a man lives, i.e., whether he lives in a rural or urban area. "There is one influential factor, namely educational attainment – the lower a man's level of education, the greater the likelihood of him having experienced intimate partner violence. Also, unemployed men experience intimate partner violence slightly more frequently than employed men, although the shares are quite similar – 37 percent and 34 percent, respectively," Bruns said.

Relationship dynamics are also affected by the use of various intoxicating substances. Men admitted that, in the case of violence perpetrated by the current partner or by a former partner, nearly 40 percent of the incidents occurred when the partner was intoxicated. According to the survey, in about 30 percent of the cases, the victim was also intoxicated at the time of the incident.

"The results show that, even if men have problems, they tend not to talk about them. They do not go to the police with their problems," Bruns said. She said that men prefer to resolve any problems by talking to their partner.


The relationship survey "Safe relationships within family, at work and outside work" reveals how Estonian residents rate the quality of their relationships at home, at work and elsewhere. The knowledge generated by the survey allows an assessment of the quality and safety of relationships, and the state can use this information to help people in the best possible way.

The survey also shows how far the Estonian society is in the development of human rights and social policy and how we compare with other countries.

The survey is conducted in all EU countries on the basis of a reliable and comparable methodology. The main representatives of public interest for the relationship survey are the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Social Affairs.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is any form of psychological, physical, sexual or economic violence that occurs between people who are or have been in a close relationship, including relatives. Anyone can suffer from domestic violence, regardless of sex, age, ethnicity, race or sexual orientation.

Where to find help?

If you feel in danger, or if your fear for your own or your children's safety, immediately call the police on 112.

If you need advice and support, call the 24-hour Victim Support Helpline on 116 006.

If it is not possible to make a call or if you do not wish to discuss your concerns over the phone, please visit the victim support website.


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Editor: Kristina Kersa

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