Launched at the beginning of the new year, 116 006, the new victim support crisis hotline operated by the Social Insurance Board, provides immediate assistance to callers who have fallen victim to a crime, neglect or mistreatment, or have experienced physical, emotional, economic or sexual violence. The 24-hour service is free of charge to callers.
"Following violence or other mistreatment, people frequently do not seek help from the police or understand that they way they are being treated is actually wrong or prohibited," said Mari Tikerpuu, head of Victim Support Services at the Social Insurance Board's (SKA) Department of Victim Support and Prevention Services.
"It is in such situations that the victim support crisis hotline can be of assistance, where a victim can be heard and receive counselling as well as information regarding their rights and opportunities for assistance," she added.
Hotline callers have the option to remain anonymous, and assistance is offered in Estonia, Russian and English.
Those who are unable to call or do not wish to speak on the phone regarding their concerns are urged to visit palunabi.ee, where counsel and assistance can be requested via online chat. "Victims' online counselling likewise operates 24 hours per day, and in three languages," Ms Tikerpuu noted.
According to the SKA, while the number of people to receive help from state victim support services, studies and statistics indicate that the majority of victims nonetheless do not end up receiving assistance. In 2017, more than 8,000 people benefitted from state victim support, while hundreds more persons in need utilised the services of sexual violence crisis centres and women's shelters.
"24-hour crisis phone and online counselling will certainly help more victims access the help they need," Ms Tikerpuu said. "We predict that the victim support crisis hotline will provide more assistance first and foremost to victims of domestic violence."
Editor: Aili Vahtla