Falling down the stairs, slipping in the basement, or hitting her head on an open door. These are just a few of the excuses that female victims use to conceal abuse in the home from the outside world. Only occasionally does it come to a conviction for domestic violence. Thus, on Thursday, a 53-year-old man from Eindhoven was sentenced to five years in prison for years of mistreatment of two ex-girlfriends.
According to Heleen Rutgers, chief public prosecutor, the number of known cases of domestic violence is only the tip of the iceberg. That worries her. “In reality, there are many thousands of cases of domestic violence, but they remain undiscovered.”
According to Rutgers, domestic violence occurs everywhere. “In all neighborhoods, in all districts. It’s about being willing to see it with each other and daring to discuss it. The victims sometimes blame themselves, sometimes they are instigated by the perpetrators.”
Another problem: “For the outside world it is also a threshold to report a suspicion of domestic violence. Reporting is actually important to protect victims and to ensure that domestic violence stops.”
No exact figures
Rutgers cannot and does not dare mention exact numbers of domestic violence. “We have insufficient insight into the enormity of the problem. In 2021 we had about 650 criminal cases in East Brabant in which domestic violence played a role. This is only a fraction of the total. And that is worrying.”
For the chief officer, protecting the victims and stopping violence are the main goals of the reports. “The reports do not necessarily lead to criminal cases. The evidence in such cases is sometimes complicated. There is often no one there. In addition, power differences between perpetrator and victim also play a role.”
Rutgers describes that the judiciary works together with, among others, municipalities, police, Safe Home, probation, and Victim Support to provide tailor-made solutions in problematic situations. “The goal is to protect the victim and make offenders realize that aggression is not the solution. The solution can be assistance, but it could also be a criminal case.”
Translation: Chaitali Sengupta who also gives ONLINE Inburgering classes.