26 Sep 2017

Something more needs to be done about domestic violence in Austria!

It saddens me every time I read about another case of severe domestic abuse or violence and it angers me when I learn that it was not the first time and that it probably could have been prevented.

Julia Sahlender
Julia Sahlender Der Standard, Austria
Source: Der Standard
Something more needs to be done about domestic violence in Austria! - NewsMavens
Jail cell. AlexVan/Pixabay (CC0)

Why this story matters:

In cases of domestic violence that end with the death of a victim, the perpetrator is often already known to the police. The death of a person is also usually not the first incident of violence inflicted upon them. A lot of the time there is a history of violence and abuse and some experts believe that an outcome as tragic as death of someone could often be prevented.a

In order to do that, in Austria we have the "Prevention Against Violence Act". It was introduced in 1997 to combat domestic violence, especially against women and children. Back then the Act was somewhat revolutionary and the first of its kind in Europe. One very important point of it is that victims of domestic violence have the right to stay in their home while the perpetrator has to leave and is not allowed to return. This is supposed to make it easier for victims, as they don’t have to seek shelter somewhere else and because they aren’t uprooted but can stay in their known environment if they choose to. The victims also get immediate support from intervention agencies.

While all of this is good and important in fighting domestic violence and protecting victims, it’s still not enough. Unfortunately, there are still cases of violence and abuse happening. It saddens me every time I read about another case of severe domestic abuse or violence and it angers me when I learn that it was not the first time and that it probably could have been prevented. 

As this happens more often than it should some experts dealing with domestic violence call for perpetrators to be put in custody quicker and more often, if there’s reason to believe that they will go back home and reoffend. They also demand better training in dealing with cases of domestic violence for healthcare professionals as they are often the first ones to get in touch with the victims.

Details from the story:

  • The Prevention Against Violence Act (Gewaltschutzgesetz) was introduced on the 1st of May 1997
  • It's supposed to protect the victims of domestic violence
  • Since 2016 it also includes protection against forced marriage, sexual harassment and cyberbullying 
  • 1997, 170 offenders were banned from going home, in 2016 that number rose to 8,637.
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