10th anniversary of the German Act on Protection against Violence

On April 26th, 2012, the bff conference “10th Anniversary of the German Act on Protection against Violence– Assessment of Changes in Social Attitudes towards Domestic Violence” took place in the city of Bochum.

The conference provided professionals from a wide range of disciplines, institutions and centres with the opportunity to review collectively ten years of changes in interventions in domestic violence cases. Needs for action and gaps were determined and discussed with an interdisciplinary approach.

The background - 10 years of the German Act on Protection against Violence

When the German Act on Protection against Violencewas introduced in 2002, the public discourse on domestic violence (violence in the closed social environment) changed. The slogan “Wer schlägt, der geht!“ (The batterer is the one who must go.) became the principle of a new debate.

This emphasised that the State is not left out if supposedly private violence is purported. It is no longer the – mostly female – persons affected by domestic violence who should be forced to flee and get themselves into safety. No, the perpetrators of violence should be the ones to suffer the consequences.

The Act was preceded by many initiatives on improved cooperation and coordination between the various players who intervene in the case of domestic violence. Many things have progressed since the Violence Protection Act entered into force:

Domestic violence is now perceived as a public offence, cooperation agreements have been made, specialists of various professions trained further and their interdisciplinary cooperation strengthened, and the federal states have amended their Police Acts and adjusted them to the Protection Against Violence Act. Proactive counselling has been developed. Proactive means reaching out to the people concerned in terms of counselling.

Appraisal and assessment regarding domestic violence

At the conference, the practical implementation of violence protection for women was assessed ten years after the Act had entered into force:

  • What is the political meaning and practical consequence of the introduction of the Violence Protection Act and how sustainable is it?
  • Where are there still shortfalls and difficulties in terms of violence protection?
  • What new need for assistance has emerged regarding the people concerned?
  • How has counselling changed since it started reaching out to the people concerned in a proactive manner?
  • How can working with the perpetrators go about bringing changes with regard to the men?
  • What is the impact of economic difficulties and risks regarding women affected by violence?

bff study on violence protection

The Federal Association of Women’s Counselling Centres and Rape Crisis Centres assessed the implementation of the Violence Protection Act by carrying out a survey of its member organisations.

The 2012 practical results in terms of violence protection from the point of view of the women’s support system were presented at the conference and brought into the discussion. It should be noted that the intervention system for protecting women against violence has still not been optimised in 2012.
You can download a German version of the conclusion of the practical results in terms of violence protection.