The number of people calling the Social Insurance Board's domestic violence helpline (116 006) is continuing to grow. While in January 56 people called, in April the number reached 98.
"The number of calls is growing every month," comments Mari Tikerpuu, of the Board's victims assistance and prevention services department.
According to Tikerpuu, who spoke on the matter on ERR's Russian-langauge channel ETV+, most callers are women, however sometimes men also call in. The growing number of domestic violence reports does not mean an increase in domestic violence in Estonia, but rather signifies increased awareness of the issue, Tikerpuu said.
"However, where moral or sexual abuse is concerned, people's awareness is still rather low, and it is our job to raise it. It is very cruel that there are people who have been suffering from abuse for years and are not aware of it, thinking it's just how love works," adds Tikerpuu.
In case of a direct threat of abuse, Tikerpuu recommends calling the emergency services at 112, and afterwards 116 006, the number of the victims assistance helpline.
"People need support. Where necessary, our employees can meet those in need in a public place. No one ever needs to be afraid that they might be left without any assistance." However, Tikerpuu added that only some 20 percent of victims actually seek help from the authorities. "This is only the tip of the iceberg."
Earlier in May, a newly appointed minister for the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), Marti Kuusik, resigned in the wake of allegations of domestic violence. Following Kuusik's departure, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) said that he condemns all types of family and relationship violence. "There is no room for justification or doubt, because we know that there are thousands of victims of domestic violence in Estonia," Ratas said.
Editor: Ksenia Fadina, Dario Cavegn