While the availability of services for domestic violence survivors has increased, statistics indicate that domestic violence is not decreasing in Finland. To effectively combat domestic violence, Finland should invest in helping those who use violence.
The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters in Finland also assists those who use violence in breaking free from abusive behavior.
Providing professional help to stop violent behavior is an effective means of preventing domestic violence.
"Violence won't stop without helping the perpetrators. More resources are needed for anti-violence work to assist not only survivors but also those who use violence. Perpetrator programs have shown positive results, but more research is needed," said Jaana Autto, an expert in violence prevention.
Early intervention in violent behavior is crucial. The sooner violence is halted, the better for all parties involved. Assisting those who use violence also plays a significant role in breaking intergenerational cycles of violence. Violent behavior patterns tend to pass down through generations when assistance is not available to all parties involved in the violence.
"The current uncertain and challenging economic situation is increasing violence in families. We need more resources for both preventive work and violence prevention. The problem now is that the assistance available is not long-lasting enough. Often, individuals have to seek help themselves, which means they must first recognize and acknowledge their problematic behavior. We need more collaboration to bring up the issue of violence in settings like social and health services," Autto added.
Currently, individuals who use violence seeking help from the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters are entitled to only five counseling sessions with current funding. Longer-term assistance is needed to facilitate permanent change.
The developed and tested Safe Tracks program is already in existence, and it is worth directing resources toward it to reduce or eliminate domestic violence.
According to a study by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Finland is the second least safe EU country for women. Nearly every other woman in Finland has experienced violence in a relationship, and there are no signs of a decrease in violence. The Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters assisted an even larger number of domestic violence survivors last year, with the majority being women.
On the path to non-violence: Safe Tracks project closing seminar on September 27
The Safe Tracks project (2020-2023) aims to promote work with domestic violence perpetrators. The project has developed a violence cessation program targeting individuals who have used violence in their close relationships or been involved in violent crimes, as well as those concerned about their own behavior. The program pays special attention to service coordination for victims, children, and relatives, as well as risk assessment. The Safe Tracks project has been funded by the Ministry of Justice.
The closing seminar of the project on September 27 provides up-to-date information on helping those who use violence and the methods of the Safe Tracks domestic violence cessation program, along with related research.