Domestic and gender based (GB) violence is a serious problem; namely, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes, and in Western Balkans, this number is even higher: one in two women experience psychological violence and one in three experience physical violence by a family member during their lifetime 1.
According to the research results and the experience of those working in the field, the majority of victims of gender based and domestic violence are primarily women, followed by children. The EU-wide survey conducted in 2014 by FRA – European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights estimated that 13 million women in the EU have experienced physical violence in the course of 12 months prior to the survey interviews. This corresponds to 7% of women aged 18–74 years in the EU2. The consequences of violence pose a risk to victims’ physical and mental health and quality of their life, both private and professional.
The legal landscape for domestic violence has gone through significant changes in the past few years, with EU, Council of Europe and national legislation changes placing more emphasis on these issues. However, many victims still live in “silence”, not having proper resources to help them report violence and get help, and to live safe and free from violence.
The general and specialized support for victims of violence is still lacking. There is a lack of information provided to victims of violence regarding their rights, as well as a lack of integrated interventions and services. Myths, misconceptions, and lack of knowledge in relation to domestic and GB violence are still present in many EU countries.
In partnership countries (Slovenia, Croatia, UK, Bulgaria), there are a range of services available to victims; however, they are facing an increasing lack of funding and resources. Consequently, the availability of such services is dependent upon where one happens to live. Good and effective multidisciplinary cooperation is still a challenge. No formally established/recognized networks of first points of contact exist in the partnership countries.
Even though some e-learning resources are available in some EU countries, the vast majority of such courses are offered on a fee basis with no evidence that these courses include information regarding the incorporation of EU law rights and domestic violence instruments. Slovenia, Bulgaria, and Croatia do not have any interactive e-learning materials in this field.
1 Victimology Society of Serbia, 2001; ESE Macedonia, 2000; Medica, BiH, 1999; Centre for Women war Victims, 2000;
2 FRA – European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights. Violence against women: an EU-wide survey.