Violence by a husband or wife or by a male or female partner or by relatives can never be justified, regardless of why it is perpetrated and regardless of who the perpetrator is. Domestic violence is a criminal offence!
Physical assaults in the family
Domestic violence is the perpetration of violent acts between people in close personal and often family relationships. It is usually perpetrated by men against women and children and it often takes place in the home. It particularly includes the following acts of violence:
- insults, intimidation, threats, persecution, terrorisation and frightening behaviour;
- deprivation of sleep and/or food;
- removal, damaging or destruction of objects;
- inflicting of injuries as well as pushing, kicking, shoving, choking, burning, restraining, tying up and raping;
- compulsion (forcing people to engage in acts which they do not want to perform, e.g. sex);
- threatening with objects or weapons;
- controlling, locking in, locking out and preventing contact with family and friends;
- abusing children or
- attempts to kill you.
What should you do if you are at acute risk?
Call the police on emergency number 110 or call the nearest police station.
You need not fear any adverse consequences. Even if the perpetrator is asked to leave the family home for two to three weeks, this will not have any effect on your right to stay.
Let the police know:
- who you are and where you are;
- from whom and in what way you and other persons, particularly children, are at acute risk;
- who is injured and in what way and who has caused this;
- whether there is any further risk
- whether the perpetrator possesses any weapons, whether he/she has drunk alcohol and whether he/she has taken drugs.
Go somewhere safe until the police arrive, e.g. neighbours, friends, relatives and public buildings.
The police can order the perpetrator
- to leave the home and/or your immediate surroundings immediately for up to two weeks and
- can take the key from him,
- take him into custody and
- safeguard property.
During questioning by the police, you can ask to be in a separate room to the perpetrator. Where necessary, the police can arrangecontact with
- a women’s and children’s refuge,
- an intervention agency or
- other forms of assistance.
The police will inform you of your legal options. You have the option of making a complaint under the Gewaltschutzgesetz (‘Protection against Violence Act‘). Even if you have a right to stay which is dependent on the existence of your marriage, you can make applications in accordance with §§ 1 and 2 of the Gewaltschutzgesetz, regardless of the duration of your marriage in Germany.
If you make a complaint, you must let us know by whom, when and where acts have been perpetrated. You can communicate these details to the police or the prosecution service
- over the telephone or
- in writing.
The residence status in terms of the law is important to the legal position of migrants. However, the Gewaltschutzgesetz ensures that German law will be applied in every case.
It is important to have all injuries recorded by a doctor. This particularly applies if you do not have any independent residence status in order to be able to provide evidence of particular hardship before the immigation authority where necessary.
If you live in communal accommodation, it is possible to separate yourself physically from the perpetrator of the violence in the case of domestic abuse. This means that the violent person is no longer able to reach you. It is possible for the person to be moved to other communal accommodation or even to another town/to another district in order to ensure your protection.
Where can you obtain help, protection and advice?
You can obtain advice from intervention and co-ordination agencies, immigration officials and lawyers and, in an emergency, you can seek protection and safe accommodation in a women’s and children’s refuge! Women’s and children’s refuges and houses will provide you with advice and will help you and your children at any time. Going into a women’s refuge will not have any adverse consequences for you; it will still not be regarded as a separation. Only if you finally separate from your partner, even if you are not yet divorced, will this have an effect on your right to stay and on applications under the Gewaltschutzgesetz.
For a limited period of time, you will be safe, you will be able to find peace and you will be able to plan further action to be taken. You will receive professional help with this, e.g. in the case of visits to the authorities and doctors as well as when making financial and legal claims. These establishments are mostly anonymous; men do not have access. If you have to flee your home, you should already have placed documents and cash in a safe place.
Intervention and co-ordination agencies
will provide you with advice and will help you if you are affected by domestic violence or stalking, e.g. with regard to your rights and options under the Gewaltschutzgesetz and also in your home, if this is what you request. They will e.g. help you to make applications to the court and they will accompany you to the authorities, on visits to doctors and on other necessary journeys.