The Quick Guide is meant for those of you who want to have a general idea of how to come out of a violent relationship. The Guide will also give you answers on how to raise your chances of keeping your residence permit. At the same time, you will find answers to some of the important questions you may have if you live in a violent marriage.
Physical, psychological and social violence is illegal in Denmark. It is often punishable by imprison-ment. If you become a victim of violence, it is important that you go to the emergency room, record the violence on your phone and save any text messages. This is namely how you can prove the vio-lence.
Moreover, we advise you to get qualified guidance. At the Danish Immigrant Counselling, we have 25 years of experience in helping women who are victims of violence. We also have extensive expe-rience in helping women, who are victims of violence, obtain a residence permit of their own.
What is violence?
There are three forms of violence. They are referred to as physical, psychological and social violence. Here you will get a brief overview of all of them.
Physical violence is not only slaps. It may be attempts to choke you, burn you with cigarettes, punch you with a fist and kick you. The man may also strike you with various tools. He can also use weapons, for example, a knife. He does not always have to be alone in this. Friends or family members may also be involved in the violence that is perpetrated against you.
Psychological violence often involves threats of sending you back to your home country. There may also be death threats if you tell of the violence, or a prohibition to talk to your own family. Such violence may also involve your husband or other members of your family locking you up, harassing and bullying you. Another sign of psychological violence is if a family member requires to be taken as an interpreter when you, for example, want to talk to a doctor.
Social violence often occurs in the same way as psychological violence. However, a sign of social violence is also when your husband does not let you go out alone. Perhaps he demands to accompany you when you go to work, to courses in Danish or out shopping.
How do you get yourself a place to stay if you want to leave your husband?
You have decided to leave your husband, and you need a place where you can stay? In Denmark, there are various options that you can take advantage of.
The most common offer to women who are victims of violence is a women’s shelter. Here you can stay for a maximum of 90 days. You need to be aware that most women’s shelters require evidence of the violence. You are free to contact a shelter to enquire if there is room for you. However, staying there is not free of charge, and there are few available places. If you are unable to cover your stay yourself, the family department of your municipality must vouch for the payment.
If you have children under the age of 18, you can apply for housing with your municipality through the Social Housing Allocation Scheme — DSB. However, you must keep in mind that your shared flat does not automatically fall to your husband. You may file a claim to keep the flat in your petition for divorce.
Remember never to sign anything given to you by your husband that you do not understand or whose consequences you are not familiar with. Call us at the Danish Immigrant Counselling to get help and good advice.
Do you need to keep your plans secret?
It is important that you keep your plans secret. If you run away from your husband, be very careful with whom you share where you are going. This is equally true regardless of whether you are moving to a women’s shelter or to another type of accommodation.
Never disclose your new address, telephone number or email on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. You must also pay attention to any pictures you share with others.
Never tell anyone else at the shelter where you come from or what your real name is. In this way, your identity will remain a secret. This will make it impossible for the perpetrator of the violent acts to find you.
How about your residence permit?
If you want to get a divorce due to violence, you need to procure evidence of the violence. This can be supporting documents from the emergency room and police reports.
The evidence of the violence is incredibly important. It can be of paramount importance when the Danish Immigration Service reassesses your temporary residence permit.
The Danish Immigration Service is very exacting with regard to evidence of physical violence. At the same time, the Danish Aliens Act requires you to get away from the physical violence. However, this requirement can be difficult to fulfil. Approximately two out of three women who are victims of violence have their residence permit revoked when they leave their husbands.
The Danish Immigration Service also takes into consideration if you, for example, have attended your courses in Danish and if you work.
As a rule, it takes 6 to 12 months for the Danish Immigration Service to assess and decide whether you may keep your temporary residence permit. You retain all of your rights during the consideration of your case. This means that you will still be permitted, for example, to work and get medical help.
How do you appeal to the Danish Immigration Appeals Board?
If the Danish Immigration Service decides to revoke your residence permit, it is important that you appeal to the Danish Immigration Appeals Board. This must happen within 7 days of the decision of the Immigration Service.
If you do not appeal, you have one month to leave the country. If you instead choose to appeal, you will keep all of your rights during the consideration of your case.
An appeal is not free, but it will be really good for your case and for your time in the country. An appeal case takes approximately 14 months to consider and often even longer.
How do you get help?
When you are in a situation where your residence permit is at stake, it can really pay off to seek qualified help.
At the Danish Immigrant Counselling, we provide specific guidance for your particular case. Such guidance may, for example, relate to an appeal case. It may also be before you divorce your spouse.
We also make sure that you submit correct and relevant documents to the Danish Immigration Service.
How do you apply for divorce or legal separation?
You can get a divorce on www.familieretshuset.dk. Here you can apply for a divorce or legal separation with your NemID or using a form.
You do not need to be separated before you get a divorce. Nor does your spouse need to sign anything when you file your petition. The Agency of Family Law will subsequently contact your spouse, who will be asked to sign.
A divorce in Denmark cannot be prevented. If your husband does not want to have a divorce — and, therefore, does not want to sign — the petition will be sent to the Family Court. The Court will then approve your petition for divorce.
If you do not want to meet your spouse at the Agency of Family Law or the Court, you may request so. You must not worry about legal expenses. Most divorcees get a lawyer that is paid for by the State.
Are you protected against violence in Denmark?
Yes, in Denmark, you are protected against both physical and psychological as well as social violence.
Violence in Denmark is regarded as a criminal act — and this is regardless of who perpetrates it. After all, spouses are not always alone in inflicting the violence. They may also involve friends and family members.
It is very important that you report the violence to the police and preferably also to other authorities. If you have children, you must also report the violence at least to the child protection services.
At the same time, it is you who must prove that the violence has occurred. Therefore, it is necessary that you gather documentation of the violence.
There is no reason to feel compassion for a spouse who engages in violence against your and/or your children. He needs help and therapy to overcome his violent urges.
What can you do to prove psychological and social violence?
Psychological and social violence may be hard to prove. That is so because this is a crime that does not immediately leave any visible marks on your body.
Therefore, you stand to benefit from keeping a diary. Here you need to note down the date, time and what specifically happened during the violent episodes. You must also write what you are being threatened with. You can, for example, save text messages and record audio on your phone.
You have perhaps heard of one of the most common threats. It involves kicking you out of the country if you choose to leave your husband. Here it is important to know that your spouse is unable to get you kicked out of Denmark. It does not matter if he is an ethnic Dane, an immigrant or a recognised refugee.
When you divorce or leave your spouse, the Danish Immigration Service will only contact you because they will need to reassess your temporary residence permit. In this connection, we strongly recommend that you seek qualified help.
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