Christmas is not peaceful in all families. Time pressure, high demands, existing problems and being together in a small space – that can be a dangerous mix. Statistically speaking, your own home is not a safe place, especially for women - around 240,000 cases of domestic violence against women were registered nationwide in 2022, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
Intimate partner violence is not just a problem at the holidays: since 2015, over 100 women have died every year at the hands of their partner or ex-partner. These murders of women are also known as femicides.
The number of unreported cases is likely to be significantly higher because many women do not report the crimes, as lawyer Christina Clemm reported in an interview with stern. For women who are in violent relationships or are in acute danger, there are various offers of help that are available around the clock - including over the Christmas holidays.
Women who have experienced violence can contact the “Help Hotline”. The employees advise those affected in confidential discussions. Consultations are possible in 18 languages. The hotline can be reached 24/7 free of charge at: 116016. The previous number 0800 116 016 is also still available. Women can also contact the “helpline” via email or chat. The employees can place you in other positions upon request.
At the women's shelter coordination, women can find an overview of the women's shelters and advice centers in their region. The exact addresses of the women's shelters are not known to protect the residents, but women can contact them via the coordination office.
Since 2015, more than a hundred women have died every year at the hands of their partner or ex-partner in Germany. The Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) lists the cases in the “partnership violence” category.
Sources: 2015-2021 criminal statistical evaluation of intimate partner violence by the BKA, 2022 situation report on domestic violence by the BKA
The offer also applies to men who are affected by violence. According to statistics, at least 20 percent of acts of violence in couple relationships affect men. There are also special offers of help in different forms for them. For example, men can contact the helpline for men anonymously on 0800/1239900. There is also a “help chat” there if you don’t want to or can’t talk.
In acute emergencies, the police can be reached on 110 and the emergency services on 112. Women who do not have the opportunity to make an emergency call by telephone can do so in Germany using the “Nora” warning app. Anyone who has the app on their smartphone and is registered can call for help at the push of a button in the app. The entered data and the location are then transmitted to the emergency call center. If the “silent emergency call” function is selected, this works without speaking. But be careful: the app is currently not available in the app stores. So only women who have already installed the app can call for help via the app.
There is also a similar concept in Austria: a silent emergency call can also be made in the DEC112 (Digital Emergency Call) app. The location is transmitted via GPS and the stored data is sent to the emergency call center.
If a man or woman is in danger on the road or has the opportunity to video call someone, a hand signal can also be used to signal that they need help. The "Signal for Help" gesture consists of two steps:
Step 1: Hold up your flat hand. The palm of the hand faces outwards so that the other person can see it. The thumb is curved inwards.
Step 2: All other fingers are slowly placed over the thumb to form a fist.
Overall, and not just on public holidays, violence is not a solution. Anyone affected by attacks can and should seek help. The first step can be to talk to someone you trust if going to a help center seems too overwhelming at first. You are not alone, help is often just a phone call or chat message away.
Read at stern: A man beat and humiliated Calvin Beck's mother for years. He had to watch everything, but as a child he couldn't do anything. Here he explains how the experience still haunts him today.