Danish Policy on Domestic Violence

Preventing and combating domestic violence is an area that Denmark has focused on for a longer period of time, and most recently in 2014 the Ministry of Children, Gender Equality, integration and social affairs launched a national strategy for combating violence in close relationships.

Although violence in close relationships is an area where it is difficult to be precise on the prevalence, there are of course estimates based on data from the health care system, police data, and finally self-report and victim surveys.  An estimate puts the number of women who are victims of domestic violence at 29.000 and the number of men at 10.000 [1]. The numbers indicate a tendency where the number of female victims is on the decline while the number of male victims is rising.

Corporal punishment against ones children was made illegal in 1997, until then some degrees of mild violence (spanking and slaps) was legal. However, surveys indicate that the illegality of violence against children has not abolished it altogether. As many as 1 in 5 between the ages of 0 and 16 are subjected to violence by their parents. The violence ranges from mild violence to serious child abuse[2].

Following incidents of violence or threats the police can issue a restraining order against the perpetrator. This is intended to protect the victim both from further incidents and from being the one who has to leave the home.

In the discussion of domestic violence the primary focus is on the women and to some degree on the children, both as victims and as onlookers. However, in recent years increasing attention has been brought to the fact that men can also be subject to domestic violence. Some studies have even found that the prevalence of domestic violence against men is as high as the one against women.

Getting help

If a person has been the victim of violence it is possible to go to a shelter, which offers a place to stay and counseling for the woman and possibly children. There are also shelters for men, but they deal with men in crisis in general, not specifically in relation to violence. You can get a referral to a shelter from the police, your GP, the hospital, or a social worker. For the perpetrator it is possible to get counseling for instance via the organization Dialogue Against Violence.

Recently, following some grim cases where authorities reacted much too late in grave cases of child abuse and neglect, the services offered to children have undergone close scrutiny. Among other things this scrutiny resulted in the establishment of  childrens houses where any child who is victim of suspected of being the victim of assault will be dealt with. The child house can be different physical locations, but always inviting surroundings, and with any relevant authorities present and working together. Relevant authorities are of course primarily the police, social and health authorities, and psychologists. October 1st  2013, 5 such houses opened in Denmark.

Evaluation of the national strategy to combat violence can be found here.

[1] SFI (2012): Vold i nre relationer

[2] SFI (2011): Vold mod brn og unge


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