“United against Domestic Violence”

Symposium organized by the Max Planck Institute and the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Freiburg

March 22, 2024

On March 14–15, some 70 experts and policymakers from academia, the police, and NGOs as well as other socio-political actors came together in Berlin to discuss current research trends in the fight against domestic violence. The symposium „Gemeinsam gegen häusliche Gewalt: Aktuelle Herausforderungen in der psychosozialen Versorgung Betroffener“ (“United against domestic violence: Contemporary challenges in the psychosocial care of victims”) was organized by the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law together with the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Freiburg.

The two-day event aimed to foster an exchange among experts from various disciplines on recent developments and the need for action in the area of domestic violence and intimate partner violence.

Dietrich Oberwittler and Natalie Gehringer from the Max Planck Institute presented the results of their research on the effects of COVID-19 (“Covid-19-KRIM”). Researchers from the Institut für Konfliktforschung [Institute for Conflict Research] in Vienna and the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts reported on the domestic violence situation in Austria and Switzerland.

The following trends were evident in all reports: The lockdowns during the pandemic intensified domestic violence against partners and children. At the same time, access to support facilities and the police became more difficult. The dynamics of violence also changed: Victims were at the mercy of their abusers and could not escape for even a short time during this difficult period. Moreover, psychological violence became harder to detect, as it took place within the family’s “own four walls”.

The symposium participants in Berlin agreed that further research is needed on the impact the COVID-19 pandemic had on domestic violence. Violent behavior should not only be analyzed in terms of numbers, but also in terms of the type or nature of violence. Politicians were called on to implement projects to protect against domestic violence as soon as possible.

Other items on the conference program included presentations by various stakeholders, several workshops, and a concluding panel discussion.

For the participants, the event was an “extremely successful symposium in every respect,” as Katrin Bräunig from Kinderschutzbund Torgau [the Torgau Child Protection Association] said after the meeting. “We were able to forge valuable contacts, and the discussions with representatives from different professions with different perspectives were wonderfully enriching,” she wrapped up.

At the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law, the Independent Research Group “Space, Contexts, and Crime” is investigating the “The Consequences of the Covid-19 Pandemic for Crime in Southwest Germany (COVID-19-KRIM)”. The research project is being carried out jointly with the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Freiburg.

Information on the project is available at https://csl.mpg.de/de/projekte/covid-19-krim

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