Across Europe, 3 to 10 per cent of women are in an abusive relationship. In Austria it is 4 to 5 per cent of women.
Violence manifests itself in many forms. The most common are physical, psychological, economical and sexual violence. An additional form is structural violence. Often most types of violence occur in combination.
Physical violence comprises of intentional beating, shoving, punching, hair pulling, hitting with an object, being injured or threatened with a weapon, being burnt, strangled, damage or destruction of personal belongings, breaking of furniture and also the torturing of pets.
Psychological violence expresses itself in many different ways, such as verbal abuse, degradation and defamation, which destroy the victim’s self-esteem and their mental health. Over time the woman’s self-confidence, along with her identity, feelings, rights and choices will be destroyed.
Ridiculing someone in public, making offensive comments about their appearance or personality and allegations that the woman is mentally ill, mad, or suicidal are other tactics often used by the abuser in order to distract others from his behaviour.
Stalking and others such as harassment, terror through frequent calls both day and night, hate mail, spying, and hounding at work.
Isolation by banning contact with family, making them a prisoner in their own home, disabling the phone or forbidding the use of the car is a common way of dominating and controlling the victim.
Threats are the most common forms of psychological violence. For example, “If you ever leave me I’ll kill you’, “I’ll kill your whole family”, “I’ll cut up your face!”, “I’ll take the kids away from you” and so on. In order to accomplish certain actions, threats to injure pets and innocent third parties can also be used. Psychological violence implies that it’s no longer ‘necessary’ to carry out physical violence, as threats are causing enough fear already.
Sexual violence includes all types of sexual acts and behaviour, where the woman has been forced against her will.
Economic violence refers to the unfair sharing of funds, and so the exploitation of economic superiority. Meaning that in a family the husband hides his income, assets and his expenses. He doesn’t allow his wife to have access to money and often provides her with insufficient money for housekeeping/ domestic affairs. Additionally he may not allow her to have a job or even her own bank account.
Structural violence is the lasting patriarchal basic structure of our society, which means that the traditional social norms are responsible for violence against women. It refers to a form of violence where some social structure or social institution allegedly harms people by preventing them from meeting their basic needs.
This form of violence means unfair chances and discrimination. Particularly women are affected by the budget cuts in education, health and social services which make up structural violence. Further reasons are part time jobs along with the risk of poverty, as well as the linking of female migrants’ residence or work permits with their legal spouse status.
As taken from the United Nations’ Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women 1993,
* Galtung Johan. http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strukturelle Gewalt, 2011
“Recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of historically unequal power relations between men and women, which have led to
domination over and discrimination against women by men and to the prevention of the full advancement of women, and that violence against women is one of
the crucial social mechanisms by which women are forced into a subordinate position compared with men.“
(Deklaration der Vereinten Nationen zur Eliminierung von Gewalt 1993)