Violence in close relationships is a major public health problem that does not look at social class, culture, age or gender. However, violence in close relationships targets women more often and certain population groups are particularly vulnerable to violence in close relationships. Preventing violence against women and family violence is an internationally recognised goal that promotes gender equality and the safety, health and well-being of people. Violence in close relationships is often kept out of sight. In order to tackle violence in close relationships, it must be better recognised.
Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.
Violence in close relationships is violence whose perpetrator and target are or have been in a close relationship. Violence in close relationships can be targeted at a person’s current or former partner, child, close relative, or another close individual.
Violence in close relationships can take many forms, including physical violence, psychological violence, stalking, sexual violence, sexual abuse of a child, economic violence, honour-based violence and neglect. Violence is a violation of human rights and a crime. Violence in close relationships can have far-reaching consequences for the victim or the person exposed to it. The consequences can involve health problems, such as somatic disorders and mental health problems, substance abuse problems or social and economic difficulties.
The task of municipalities and well-services counties is to prevent and combat violence in close relationships. Municipalities, well-being services counties, the state and organisations provide services to the public that help victims, perpetrators and persons exposed to domestic violence. The aim is to break the cycle of domestic violence, help victims cope with the consequences of violence and help perpetrators break the pattern of violent behaviour.
The City of Helsinki’s working group to prevent violence in close relationships is one of the configurations aimed at promoting well-being, safety and health among all population groups. The working group includes operators from the different divisions of the City of Helsinki, the police, the prosecuting authority, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare and organisations specialising in violence in close relationships. The task of the working group is to train the city’s personnel in identifying and tackling the phenomenon of violence in close relationships. Information campaigns are organised to the public that encourage people to seek help. Another task of the working group is to promote the local implementation of national recommendations and proposals for measures and to monitor the situational picture of violence in close relationships in Helsinki.