Zöf - Zusammenschluss Österreichischer Frauenhäuser

Affected women


For many women and children the family is not a safe place. Studies show that worldwide every fourth or fifth woman is affected by domestic violence. Women are therefore badly affected in their right to a violence-free life in dignity, freedom and security. Violence happens in all strata of society, independent of the level of education, the religious affiliation or ethnic belonging, the income and age. Violence is based on an unequal power structure within the relationship and is used as a means of exercising power and control.

What is domestic violence?

Violence in the family shows mostly in a complex form of control, oppression and maltreatment. These comprise all forms of psychological, physical and sexual maltreatment, as well as forms of economic violence and stalking. Usually various forms of violence occur in a relationship.

Domestic violence is rarely a single event but happens in stages. A stage of maltreatment is followed by a time of reconciliation, of promises, of new hope, of a temporary change for the better: Experience has shown violence is increasing in frequency and seriousness, the longer the relationship lasts. In the period of separation the risk of being battered often increases dramatically for women in a relationship where violence occurs.

Watch your safety and get help!

Forms of violence

Psychological violence: is aimed at destroying your self-worth and your mental health, e.g. by repeated insults, putting you down, humiliation, shouting, threatening, by accusations of you being crazy or stupid, by being ridiculed in public, by being threatened by violent actions etc. Often psychological violence is combined with social isolation and control, e.g. in the ban of using the telephone, but also constant control of all telephone calls, emails and SMS, a ban on meeting colleagues from work, friends or family members, or being locked in or out of the flat.

Also creating economic dependency is a means of exercising psychological violence: the ban of going out to work, control of finances and documents, taking away and ‚administration’ of income, the ban on opening your own bank account, by preventing to get your own right of residence etc.

Physical violence: every form of maltreatment leading to physical injuries as for example beating, kicking, slaps, tearing by the hair, beating with objects, injuring with knives, strangling etc.

Sexualized violence: includes every sexual act which is carried out against the wishes of another, like for instance the watching of pornos, duress, rape, etc. Also in marriage sexual infringements are legally criminal.

Stalking is the constant persecution after a relationship ends, because the separation has not been accepted. It means telephone terror, spying out of the new place of residence or work place, surveillance, pestering with emails, SMS, etc.