If you have been the victim of a crime, both you and your family members have the right to support and help from the Social Welfare Board (Socialnämnden). When providing help, the Social Welfare Board should be particularly sensitive to the fact that women who have been subjected to violence or other abuse by a loved one may need support and help to change their situation. The Social Welfare Board is also responsible for ensuring that children who are victims of abuse, along with the child’s family members, get the support and help they need. This includes children who experienced violence or other abuse by or against a family member. The responsibility of the Social Welfare Board applies to everyone who is a victim or a perpetrator of abuse, regardless of gender or gender identity.
When we talk about the Social Welfare Board, we are taking about the division of the municipality that is responsible for municipal activities that fall under the Social Services Act (Socialtjänstlagen). The board may go by another name in some municipalities, but there is always a board that has this responsibility. Social Services is the unit that handles these responsibilities on behalf of the Social Welfare Board. The Swedish Board of Health and Welfare has published general advice and regulations in a handbook called Våld – Handbok om socialtjänstens och hälso- och sjukvårdens arbete med våld i nära relationer. This handbook, written in Swedish, provides information on society’s obligations and possibilities for getting support and help. The handbook provides information on what rights you and your children have, how different governmental investigations are conducted, and what rules apply. It may be helpful to know about the work of the authorities and your rights before you visit or contact them. The Social Welfare Board is obliged to investigate both your and your child’s need for support and help so you do not have to be subjected to threats or violence. You do not have to submit a police report to get support and help. The support of the Social Welfare Board is based on your own perception of the abusive situation. When it comes to children, the assessment is based on whether there is a risk of the child being exposed to violence. The exposure to violence or other abuse does not have to be verified or proven. The Social Welfare Board can help with support if you cannot stay in the home due to threats or violence. You are entitled to help in getting to a shelter or other temporary accommodation. You may also be entitled to financial support for extra expenses related to your situation, or help with a new permanent home, for example. The Social Welfare Board let you know about your rights as a crime victim, and offer you support or point you to another organisation that can provide support, such as counselling and parental support. The Social Welfare Board is also responsible for protecting children from violence and other abuse, and for giving child victims of abuse the support and help they need.
If you are unwilling or unable to turn to Social Services, you can, for example, contact a women’s shelter for advice and support about your situation. You can find contact details to most women’s shelters via ROKS or Unizon. You can also call the national telephone helpline Kvinnofridslinjen at any time of day for support, advice and information.