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What happened?

For the witness of violence

Every tenth adult in a relationship experiences domestic violence during the year. As it is often difficult for a person suffering from violence to seek help, bystanders have a crucial role to play in noticing and offering help. Your intervention could save someone’s life! 

Domestic violence is a hidden problem that often remains within the walls of the home. A person may not seek help because they are afraid. She may fear that the abuse will become more serious or that she will lose her children. Feelings of shame can also make it difficult to seek help. A person may be afraid of not being believed or accused of provoking violence. A person suffering from violence may mistakenly believe that they cannot be helped. Therefore, it is crucial that bystanders support the person and report suspected violence immediately.

What are the signs of intimate partner violence?

There are many different signs of violence. If you notice a change in the behavior of an acquaintance, for example, a previously social friend avoids going out, does not talk about her private life and is withdrawn, this may be a sign of an abusive relationship. Similarly, striking changes in children's behavior indicate that things may not be right at home. When you notice a change, draw attention to it delicately and find out what is happening in the life of a friend or loved one.

Physical violence is indicated by bruises and frequent absences from work or school. Although mental abuse does not leave physical scars, it can lead to increased stress, anxiety, and poor health. Constant discomfort, inability to focus, and overreacting to mistakes indicate that something is wrong. If you notice that a colleague is having difficulties, ask them how they are doing.

If your loved one has suddenly incurred debts, utility services (water, electricity) have been turned off or they are looking for affordable housing, even though they previously their own property, this may indicate economic violence.

A person suffering from violence is characterized by a constant feeling of fear and vigilance. If a person changes their behavior in the presence of a partner, this may indicate a fear of violence. 

Looking for excuses and justifications for your loved one's bad behavior can mean that all is not well in the relationship. It is common for older people to cover up or soften their children's violent and abusive behavior. Elderly people's lack of awareness of violence and dependence on an abuser can increase the risk of being economically exploited or neglected. Neglect of the elderly can be indicated by dirty clothes, unkempt hair, emaciation or broken aids.

Loud voices from neighbors can also indicate violence. If you suspect something is wrong, it most likely is. Expressing your concern is always justified and will not harm anyone, but may save someone's life.

If you hear shouting, voices indicating violence or cries for help from your neighbors, immediately inform the police by calling 112.

If you suspect that there is violence in the family of your neighbor, colleague, relative or friend, talk about it. If you don't know how to do this, specialists can advise you on how to intervene by calling the victim support helpline 116 006.

If you see, for example, a fight on the street or something else that requires the help of the police, call 112. 


  • Think about your own safety. It is often advisable not to intervene yourself, but to call the police and wait for the police patrol to arrive and leave the dangerous place yourself.
  • If a crime can be prevented without getting hurt, try to stop the criminals. Often, just letting criminals know they've been noticed by making a loud noise is enough.
  • If possible, remember or write down the details of possible suspects and witnesses and pass them on to the police.
  • If someone has been injured as a result of a crime, tell the police officer or call the emergency number 112.
  • Be vigilant and report all your suspicions to the police.
How to help a person in need?

Many of us have seen a person in need of help in a public place. However, we often don't realize that we can help the person in need ourselves. Neither the police nor the ambulance can reach a person in need of help at a bus stop if no one informs them of the a person in trouble.

Call the emergency number 112 if, for example, you hear screams, curses and cries for help from the apartment next door or witness violence. The abuser can also attack a stranger, so you should not go and resolve the fight yourself.

When communicating with the victim, talk to them. Don't judge them, but help them understand that they are not guilty of the abuse. Encourage them to seek help and contact the police, victim support, a women's support center or a doctor.


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