AuthorEuropean Institute for Gender Equality (EU body or agency)
4. Conclusions
55Intimate partner violence and witness intervention: what are the deciding factors?
4. Conclusions
Witnesses need greater knowledge about
intimate partner violence, in particular
about non-physical violence. They also
need the skills to discuss the subject with
the victim
Across all environments explored in this report,
public awareness of psychological, economic and
sexual violence in relationships is lower than pub-
lic awareness of physical violence. Witnesses are
often deterred from supporting victims of psy-
chological, economic and sexual violence because
they are not sure what counts as abuse, do not
realise that these are criminal offences, or do not
believe the police will take their reports seriously.
Witnesses are of ten reluctant to intervene with-
out the explicit agreement of the victim; this is
particularly impor tant for witnesses who are
friends and family members. It may therefore
be unrealistic to expect witnesses to report inti-
mate partner violence to the authorities without
speaking to the victim first to gain their approval,
so helping witnesses to have these conversations
in a sensitive and constructive way is crucial to
help the victim find a way to proceed.
Lack of awareness of support ser vices, as
well as a lack of access, hinders reporting
of intimate partner violence and support
for victims
To be ef fective, support services need to be
accessible and widely known. The research high-
lighted low awareness of support services for
witnesses of intimate par tner violence, as well as
a lack of access in some Member States. Uneven
geographical coverage and restricted opening
times made seeking support difficult for both
victims and witnesses.
Witnesses are hesitant to inter vene if the
victim has not disclosed the violence
The signs of intimate partner violence can be
subtle. Witnesses are often uncomfortable with
the idea of basing a report to authorities on sus-
picions alone and seek confirmation. This can
include specific signs such as bruises or witness-
ing the violence with their own eyes, as well as
disclosure from the vic tim. However, there are a
wide range of responses witnesses to domestic
violence can opt to:
seek specialist advice on what to do,
talk to the victim and/or the perpetrator,
help the victim seek professional suppor t,
accompany the victim to support ser vices or
relevant authorities,
help the victim report the crime herself,
report the violence to the police or relevant
Professionals need clarity on their obligation
to report intimate partner violence
Failure to repor t intimate partner violence
where it is mandatory undermines the rule of
law. There needs to be greater clarity about
how to navigate the tension between the obli-
gation to report intimate partner violence
and the obligation to maintain confidentiality.
The research highlighted professional obliga-
tion as a factor enabling witness repor ting of
intimate partner violence for those working
in health and social care. However, it found
that in some Member States professionals in
these sectors are deterred from reporting

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