What to do in case of violence against women | STUWO

Written by Kerstin Lakits, Nov 18, 2021

“Nonviolence is a weapon of the strong.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Violence is never an option; nevertheless, around 20% of women experience physical and/or sexual violence in their life. 16,799 women and girls were victims of domestic violence in 2020. Every woman of every age, skin colour, religion and culture can be a victim of violence, which makes this a problem that concerns all of us. The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on the 25th of November reminds us that we are all in this together. Therefore, we have gathered information and help centres for you.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence refers to violence carried out by a person that has an intimate or strongly emotional relationship with the victim. The aggressor could be a family member, friend, flatmate or partner. It can happen to anybody, but the majority of victims is female and offenders are mostly men.

Domestic violence is a regular, repetitive, abusive behaviour. The abusive behaviour can be of physical, sexual and psychological nature. For example, threats, humiliation, social isolation, beatings, forced sexual intercourse and abuse are some forms of domestic violence. None of this belongs into a relationship.

Most of the time, domestic violence happens behind closed doors, usually at home. This way, the offenders hide their abusive behaviour and prevent help and intervention.

It goes without saying that any and all forms of violence are illegal and punishable. Since 1997, the police is able to remove offenders from their homes to protect the victims based on the Austrian Violence Protection Act.

What does domestic violence look like?

It can be really difficult to notice domestic violence as an outside observer. Partly because the offenders actively try to hide their crimes and partly because the victims don’t want (or can’t) talk about them. Nevertheless, there are some indicators for domestic violence. Here are some identifying features that point to domestic violence.

  • Suddenly no time for friends, colleagues, etc.
  • No autonomous decisions (permission of their partner)
  • No own money
  • Injuries (often without or with illogical explanations)
  • Chronic illnesses (often without physical origin)
  • Psychological problems (anxiety, panic attacks, depression)
  • A possessive, controlling and aggressive partner

Where to get help

If you are or become a victim of domestic violence, ask for help! You are not alone! Many help centres will support you (if needed anonymously) and offer professional help according to your situation.

1. Police

Emergency call: 133 or 112 or per SMS 0800 133 133

The Austrian police can protect you if you are in danger – even at home. The police is legally authorised to remove the offender from the victim’s home and keep him away from there (100 meters). This applies even if the offender officially lives there!

2. Frauenhelpline (Women’s helpline against violence)

Phone number: 0800 222 555 (24/7, all year)

Website: www.frauenhelpline.at

The Women’s helpline against violence is a great help centre in Austria for women, children and teenagers who are experiencing violence. You will get help in emergencies, support and advice on what to do.

3. HelpCh@t

Website: www.haltdergewalt.at

HelpCh@t is an anonymous online help centre. You can get advice and help from experts daily from 4pm-10pm. In addition to the help, you get further information and can contact other women.

4. Gewaltschutzzentren (Violence Prevention Centres)

Website: www.gewaltschutzzentrum.at (more information for each federal state on their website)

Each federal state has a Violence Prevention Centre that offers free counselling. The employees can also accompany you to police or court appointments and offer psychosocial and juridical support. You don’t have to do this on your own, the Violence Prevention Centres are there for you!

5. Frauennotrufe (Women’s Emergency Helplines)

Website: www.feminy.de

Upper Austria, Styria, Salzburg, Vienna and Tyrol have their own special Women’s Emergency Helplines. You can find their contact information, phone numbers and counselling offers on their website.

6. Frauenhäuser

Website: www.aoef.at

The Association of Austrian Women’s Homes (AÖF) is an extensive platform where you can get information and help. They have all counselling offers in Austria, emergency numbers and information against violence on their website.

7. Bund Autonome Frauenberatungsstellen bei sexueller Gewalt (Association of Women’s help centres for sexual violence)

Website: www.sexuellegewalt.at

You can find counselling offers, infrmation, help centres nearby and emergency numbers on their website.

8. MännerInfo (Men’s helpline)

Phone number: 0800 400 777 (24/7, all year)

Website: www.maennerinfo.at

This helpline is especially for men and boys, but also for their loved ones and is a great help centre for emergencies. The Men’s helpline is anonymous and confidential and supports men in conflict situations. This helpline offers you information centres, emergency sleeping places, anti-violence trainings and special counselling institutions for men.

How can I help somebody in need?

If you notice that somebody is experiences violence of any kind, you have to help. Your help is important for this person!

The most important things to keep in mind:

  • In emergency situations, call for help (police, women’s helplines)
  • Have a conversation at the right moment (and listen attentively)
  • Offer help and support
  • Ask precise questions and show understanding
  • Get information from help centres and counselling institutions

Call the police if there is immediate danger! Whether you notice a violent conflict situation on the streets or domestic violence in your neighbourhood! The police can handle the situation and offer professional help. Don’t put yourself in danger, but involve experienced and trained helpers.

At the right moment, seek a conversation with the victim. You need a safe environment, far away from the aggressor. Understanding and being-there are extremely important to make the victims feel safe and offer them support. The most important thing is that you listen carefully and don’t put pressure on them.

Try to establish trust with the victim by explaining that you will be there for her and that you’re trying to help her and will not tell the offender anything. Be a reliable contact person: “You can call me anytime and talk to me!” Maybe you can agree on a code word or sign, so that you know when she needs help.

If you know a victim of domestic violence, but don’t know what to do and how you can help that person, you can (anonymously) ask for help from the above mentioned help centres.


By talking about this topic, we are already tackling this problem because we are drawing awareness to it and banish the existing taboo. If we can make the victims feel safe enough to talk about it, they can get the necessary help and don’t have to suffer in silence.

We can all do something to end violence against women, by talking about it, being attentive in our own environment and seeking and asking for help if we notice (domestic) violence.

Austria supports many prevention measures: specially trained prevention police officers, awareness campaigns, prevention campaigns, help centres for men and boys and much more.

The above-mentioned help centres can help you and deescalate emrgency situations!

Don’t hesitate to get help!


We are happy to help!