Resources to Identify, Prevent & Report Violence

FH OÖ’s Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion

FH OÖ Compass upholds the 10 guiding principles of the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria. Therefore, FH OÖ Compass upholds guiding principle 2, which states: “We represent a value system that does not tolerate any form of discrimination, be it on the basis of gender, ethnic origin, religion, ideology, disability, age or sexual orientation.”

Additionally, FH OÖ Compass upholds guiding principle 10, which states: “We are committed to the fundamental right to education for all people and support people nationally and internationally in acquiring the necessary knowledge and skills.”

FH OÖ commits to creating and maintaining a safe, respectful, and inclusive learning environment for all students. Here you’ll find resources to identify, prevent, and report violence.

Identify violence

Violence derives from the middle high German word “waltan”, which means “to control” or “be strong”. The term violence is in general understood to mean an action or structure that results in physical and/or psychological harm or the threat of such harm.

If there is a threat or subjugation or physical and/or psychological coercion of persons, or if animals or things are deliberately and intentionally harmed, this is called violence.

It cannot be clearly stated how violence arises. There are theories that take experiences of family violence, social disadvantages, poor future prospects, general developmental problems or intensive media use into account when it comes to violent actions and behavior.

Identify motives for violence

The motives for violence can be diverse. In many cases, violence serves to exploit an imbalance in a relationship or to prove one’s own power. For many young people, the search for (social) recognition is the decisive factor for violent acts. The attempt to gain respect from other people or groups is meant to strengthen one’s own self-esteem and often leads to violence.

Compensation for negative feelings such as fear, anger, envy, offenses, etc can also lead to feeling threatened or provoked, especially in stressful situations. People who have a rather low self-esteem, cannot recognize coping strategies, or have a low frustration tolerance, often trying to compensate for these feelings with aggressive behavior.

Peer pressure and boredom often play a significant role in an already violent environment. For some people, violent activities represent a change in everyday life or a thrill. Often people are only fellow travelers of larger groups. Out of fear of becoming a victim themselves and the desire to belong, they submit to the opinion of the group.

Identify Forms of Violence

 Violence is very wide-ranging, diverse and can take on different forms. Generally, it is divided into personal and structural violence. Personal violence is expressed in physical and mental violence by individual perpetrators. In contrast, structural violence encompasses social conditions and does not originate from other individuals. Forms of violence, including physical violence, psychological violence, sexual violence, and economic violence, are described in more detail below:

Definitions of Forms of Violence

definition of physical violence

Physical violence means physical assaults and abuse of any kind. It is an attempt to harm one or more persons deliberately and intentionally. Physical violence includes hitting, pinching, kicking, punching, burning, choking, hurting, threatening with weapons, damaging, and destroying (personal) property and torturing animals. Rough grooming of people in need of help is also a form of physical violence.

 

definition of psychological violence

Psychological violence is when a person is systematically tormented mentally by one or more other persons over a longer period. This form of violence is usually more subtle and not always obvious, but no less painful with lasting trauma. It is often accompanied by another form of violence. Psychological violence can appear in the form of name-calling, insults, threats, shouting at or ignoring people, humiliation, degradation, control, terrorizing others, and threats of violence or suicide.

definition of sexual violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act that takes place through coercion or without the explicit consent of the victim. It refers to the abuse of trust, dependence, and power to satisfy a person at the expense of others, usually women or children, through sexualized behavior or sexual acts.

definition of economic violence

Economic violence is defined as the prohibition or coercion of work and/or education, the exploitation of labor, and the confiscation of wages and financial dependence by the partner. This form of violence can be classified under psychological violence and deals with the exploitation of economic superiority.

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Resources for victims of violence

Women’s helpline against violence: Violence against women is the most common form of violence in Austria and affects women of all ages, social classes, cultures, religions, in all circumstances and situations, in the family, in relationships, at work, among friends and acquaintances,… If you yourself have been affected by violence, it is important that you seek help, even if it is difficult to break the silence and requires a lot of courage to turn to a counselling center. English counselling is always possible, other languages are available on request.

Violence protection center: Counselling in cases of domestic violence, violence in the social environment, stalking / persistent persecution, as well as for process support and relatives

Autonomous Austrian Women’s Shelters: If you are being abused or feel threatened, you can turn to the women’s shelter. In the help chat [link: https://www.haltdergewalt.at/ (page translation to English and other languages available] you can get online counselling and exchange information with other affected women. (page translation to English and other languages available]

At https://www.gewalt-ist-nie-ok.at/en, affected children and young people as well as their caretakers can find information and support.

At the men’s counselling center, both men who are affected by violence and men who are prone to violence can find help and support.

 

Resources for witnesses of violence

Violence (in the family) is a very widespread, and therefore very big, problem in Austria. However, due to the close relationship between perpetrators and victims, it is not always easy to help. The violent persons often have a lot of power, so it is very difficult for the victims to free themselves from violent relationships. That is why outside help is particularly important.

Here are a few tips on what outsiders can do if they notice or learn about violent acts against other people:

When perpetrators realize that their environment knows about their violent acts and does not approve of them, this is a first step as those affected are implicitly strengthened.

Anyone who wants to help in a specific case should seek advice on the legal situation and possibilities for help.

If you witness violence or hear cries for help, it is important to act as quickly as possible. If you feel safe enough to do so yourself, try to stop the violence, if possible, with the support of other people. This requires (moral) courage. If it is too dangerous to intervene, you can always call the police (emergency call 133 or 112).

Due to the dependence of the victims on the perpetrators, the victims may be dismissive towards the police and say that nothing has happened. This is a normal reaction that serves self-protection, as the victims usually continue to live with the perpetrators. However, police intervention stops the violence for the time being and that is the most important thing in an acute situation.

If the victims react negatively to the intervention, this should not be taken personally, because it is often impossible for abused persons to talk about the violence. Nevertheless, it is important to always react quickly – this can save lives!

It is important to actively offer help even after an act of violence. To do this, it is necessary to approach those affected at an opportune moment. Please bear in mind that it can be very unpleasant and dangerous for the victims to talk about the violent situation. Information such as: “I want to help you, but I also understand that it is unpleasant for you to talk about it. What can I do for you?” can be helpful. Furthermore, it is important to build trust: “You can always come to me, I won’t tell anyone.”

In case of a crisis, concrete offers for those affected are especially important: “You can always call me and we can agree on a specific sign in case you need help.”

Help offered should always be unconditional so that it does not put pressure on those affected. Before one’s own limits of resilience are reached, it is ideal to communicate this clearly: “I can’t manage to take you in anymore, it’s too much of a burden for me, but I will help you find other support options.”

Not all people who are abused want or are able to separate from the violent person. There are many reasons for this: a sense of responsibility towards children, parents or other people who need care, lack of alternatives, fear of further violence or unclear residence situations. And some simply hope that the situation will eventually change or return to normal.

The most important principle for supporters – whether in the private sphere, in aid facilities or institutions – should always be that the decisions of those affected are respected. Only they can make the decision for their lives. For this, however, they need our help.

Here, especially men who reject violence can play a very important role and set limits to violence by confronting violent men with their behavior. This can be done, for example, by making a clear statement that violence is never accepted because there is no justification for it.

Resources for perpetrators of violence

Further information and resources about violence

StoP and Association of Autonomous Austrian Women’s Shelters – Film “Und bist du nicht willig” / “And aren’t you willing” (Language for information can be changed in top right corner, film is in German)

Integrationsfonds- Stop- Standing up to violence against women and girls

Counseling Centers – Contacts and contact persons

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