Domestic violence is not an individual problem of just some families. This phenomenon is based on a complex social problem. Domestic violence is nearly always carried out by men against women and predominantly in the supposed shelter of their own home. The perpetrators are "normal men", husbands, partners, fathers or the friendly neighbour from next door?
In the representative study for - "Life situations, safety and health of women in Germany (2004)" - carried out by the Federal Government Ministry for family, senior citizens, women and children, more than 10 000 women between the age of 16 and 85 were asked about their experiences with violence. The result shows that women of all ages, all classes and from different ethnical backgrounds are affected by violence throughout their lives to a high extent. Violence against women is predominantly carried out by men and mostly by the partner in a domestic environment
37 percent of all women living in Germany between the age of 16 and 85 become a victim of physical violence or encroachment at least once in their life. Every seventh woman in Germany has experienced sexual violence of a criminal kind since her 16th birthday. Every fourth woman experiences violence with her partner, the risk is particularly high in phases of separation. In some cases men are also victims of domestic violence. They can also claim the support of the Intervention Centre the same as affected women.
People affected by violence can usually only change their situation with help from outside. Systematic intimidation, threats and isolation often leaves the affected person seeing no way out. The feeling of being at someone else's mercy, the shame, the guilt and the fear often holds the victim back from taking the step of going public. The step towards a separation is connected to many uncertain factors - it is not unusual that there is a danger of creating existential difficulties - which a lot of victims are not able to cope with physically or mentally on their own. Consequently most victims remain in these violent relationships for years.
When it comes to separation women with children are often very uncertain of their rights - regarding maintenance or visitation with children - and are anxious that they will be exposed to renewed violence. Years of violence has not only a physical but mainly a psychological affect on the victims. It is not unusual that a very low self-esteem plus a lack of confidence in themselves to change ends in the victim feeling helpless and powerless which makes an independent search for help impossible.
Children are always affected by domestic violence. Even in cases where the children are not victims themselves, but are "only" witnesses to violence between the father and mother, it has been shown that to witness the act of violence can cause a situation of existential overload with far reaching consequences. That means children are also victims of domestic violence even if violence is not directly and physically aimed at them. More often than we think children are also direct victims of violence: the maltreatment of the mother is the most common context for child abuse (Kavemann 2006).
Stalking is a criminal offence. A diverse list of behaviour towards another person is meant by this i.e.:
- Repeated unwanted contact - talking to, phoning or writing to a person
- Unwanted gifts
- Unwanted orders in the name of the victim
- Insults, threats - to the point of physical encroachment
This behaviour has nothing to do with love; it is much more the intention of the stalker to exert power; to influence and to control the life of the victim.