Are you in a relationship with a controlling partner? Do you adapt your personality and behaviour to keep your partner from getting angry? Does your partner say mean things to you or about you? Has your partner threatened you, pushed you or hit you? Intimate partner violence refers to systematic use of various forms of violence and abuse – psychological, physical, sexual, financial and material. A person uses partner in a relationship to have power and control over their partner.
Violence in a relationship often starts subtly and usually increases gradually. The abuser often alternates between being loving and kind and being critical, controlling and aggressive. The gradual escalation of the violence, together with the abuser’s alternation between abuse and warmth, can make it hard to see the abuse and end the relationship. A behaviour that may have been impossible to accept at the start of the relationship may seem normal and even part of everyday life after being in this type of situation for a while. Normalisation of abuse is a term used to describe how abuse can become a normal element of a relationship.
Intimate party violence also includes violence committed by another person in your close circle, such as a parent, a child, or a sibling. Honour-based violence also falls under the category of intimate partner violence. In most cases, intimate partner violence is committed by a man against a woman, but it can also occur in same-sex relationships and the violence can also be committed by women. Children who experience violence by or against someone close to them are crime victims and entitled to the same support and protection as adults who are victims of violence.
Male violence against women also occurs outside of close relationships. Women and teen girls are subjected to violence from men and boys who are friends and acquaintances as well as those who are strangers to them. Examples of such violence include sexual harassment, rape, grooming and prostitution. Surveys show that about half of all women in Sweden have experienced violence by a man at some point after their 15th birthday, and that one-tenth of the women in Sweden have been subjected to some form of violence from their current spouse or cohabitee.
You have the right to get help
If you are being abused, you have the right to get help. Social Services is responsible for providing support and protection to all persons experiencing intimate partner violence. You can contact Social Services or, if you need urgent help outside of office hours, the Social Services emergency number in your municipality. You can also contact a women’s shelter for support, advice and information about your situation. You can find contact details for most women’s shelters in Sweden at www.roks.se or www.unizon.se. You can also contact RFSL’s victim support centre. The national telephone hotline Kvinnofridslinjen is for anyone who is being abused. The hotline is open 24 hours a day.
All forms of violence – psychological, physical and sexual – are a crime that can be reported to the police. If you are in an emergency situation, call 112!