Freedom from violence – sexual, emotional, financial or physical – is closely linked to our human rights. Any act of domestic violence may result in a violation of the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment, or torture, the right to private life and others.

Domestic violence is unlawful and abusive behaviour occurring between individuals within a single (common) household, a family or an intimate relationship. Whatever the form of the domestic violence – verbal abuse, sexual assault or murder, it represents an abuse of power and the control relationship between a perpetrator and a victim. Domestic violence is a violation of a person’s human rights and since it affects more women than men proportionally, it is considered to be a form of discrimination against women.

Domestic violence is widespread and has a huge negative impact on adults, children, families, interpersonal relationships and local communities, and causes huge losses to the economy. One of the features of domestic violence is its latency, as many domestic violence victims are discouraged from seeking help and reporting the violence to law enforcement institutions.

About this Guide

This Guide aims to encourage domestic violence victims to learn about and exercise their rights and to guide them through legal aspects on their way towards a life without violence.

This Guide will explain how to identify domestic violence and will provide an overview on the specifics of domestic violence which should be understood in order to properly determine the appropriate measures to stop domestic violence. It also advises where to get help and assistance, State guaranteed protection, protection for a child victim of domestic violence, and the criminal and civil liability of perpetrators.

Assess your knowledge

If you wish to use the Guide for learning purposes, the Guide offers you a possibility to assess your knowledge in human rights before or after studying, by completing tests about different themes included in the Guide.

Human Rights Guide

A European platform for human rights education