In Denmark, it is not merely immoral and unethical to engage in physical, psychological or social violence against others. It is also illegal — and this applies just as much outside as within the home.
Who is a victim of violence?
This is something that can happen to anyone. Everyone can be unlucky enough to come across a person who has the urge to be violent. Such people do so because violence gives them a sense of control. The most important thing is that you know that there is nothing wrong with you!
If you live together with a man who is violent, it is very important that you seek professional help. You see, living together with a man who is violent is not merely detrimental to your mental health. It is also unnecessary. At the Danish Immigrant Counselling, we have 24 years of experience in helping women who are victims of violence.
Can your husband get you kicked out of Denmark?
No, it is the Danish Immigration Service that will assess the case of your residence permit.
Many women who are victims of violence are confronted with a particular problem. The fact is that many of them hold a residence permit based on family reunification with a spouse in pursuance of Section 9(1)(1) of the Danish Aliens Act.
This means that one of the conditions for the residence permit is that you are married to or have documented cohabitation with your husband or partner. This creates an imbalanced relationship. At the same time, this puts you as a woman in a vulnerable position. Your husband will namely be able to threaten you that you will lose your residence permit if you move out or want a divorce.
This is not true. You and your children may be granted residence permits of your own. However, we cannot guarantee this. The assessment will namely depend on whether you can document the violence. Moreover, you must be able to document your and your children’s affiliation with Denmark. You can do this, among other things, by following the guidelines set out below.
Option to keep your residence permit when you do not have children
If you want to divorce or move out of a home that you share with a man who is violent, it is important that you can document the violence. In case of physical violence you must go to the emergency room or your own GP. This will make it possible for the doctors to issue a medical certificate. It will state that your injuries are caused by physical violence.
It may be difficult to document psychological and social violence. You stand to benefit from saving any text messages (SMS) sent by your husband. You can also record audio on your phone of him scolding you or ordering you to stay away from your family and friends. You can also keep a diary, where you detail how he is controlling you.
At the same time, it is important to report the violence to the police — irrespective of whether the violence is psychological, social or physical. All forms of violence are illegal in Denmark. You will need all this evidence in order to prove to the Danish Immigration Service that you live together with a man who is violent.
Once you leave your husband because of violence, you will have several options for a place to stay. An offer that you may have already heard about is the women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence. You can call us for guidance on how to search for a place to stay.
Option to keep your and your children’s residence permits
You must know that your situation will differ depending on whether your children came to Denmark together with you or they were born here.
If your children were born here, the Danish Immigration Service will probably consider their affiliation with Denmark to be stronger than yours. Therefore, you may risk having your residence permit revoked or not extended, but this will not happen to your children.
You must also be aware that there may be other conditions in play if the person who is violent towards you is not the father of your children. The important point is that all family affairs and cases are different. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact the Danish Immigrant Counselling. Here we can provide you with proper guidance. Nevertheless, there are some general guidelines that can give you and your children a greater chance of keeping your residence permits.
When you have children together with a man who is violent — or you live with children of different marriages — many of the above rules and requirements for documentation apply.
However, you must pay attention to one thing: If one of the prerequisites for the children’s residence permits is documented cohabitation with their father, you cannot just take the children away with you.
As temporary protection, you may take the children with you to a women’s shelter. However, if the Danish Immigration Service becomes aware that your children no longer live together with your husband, their assessment will be that your children’s residence permits should be revoked. The Danish Immigration Service will most likely require your children to have documented cohabitation with their father in order for them to keep their residence permits.
You can apply to have the children reunited with you rather than with their father. Here you must be aware that there are several conditions for family reunification when you as a woman and mother hold a residence permit as a reunited spouse rather than as an asylum seeker.
If your husband engages in physical, psychological or social violence against the children, the conditions for the children’s family reunification with you are not as stringent. However, you are required to document the violence against the children in the same way as the violence the man perpetrates against you. For example, you can film your children while they are telling about their experiences.
There are various options for a place to stay once you leave your husband due to violence. An offer that you may have heard about is the women’s shelters for victims of domestic violence. Most shelters have room for children. However, the municipality can also help find a suitable home for you and your children when you can no longer stay at the shelter. Click here to read more about the various options you have for a place to stay.
Affiliation with Denmark
When assessing if you and your children should keep your residence permits, the Danish Immigration Service will attach importance to your affiliation with Denmark.
As a rule, this means that the longer you have lived in Denmark, the greater the chances that you will keep your residence permits. In their assessment, they also attach weight to how well integrated you are in Denmark. Do you speak the language? Are you on the labour market? Do you take part in voluntary organisations, clubs and associations? Do your children go to day care and/or school?
In other words, there are several conditions that can help you keep your residence permits — also even if you no longer live together with the violent man.
Is he an addict or a psychopath?
You are particularly vulnerable to violence if your partner is an addict or a psychopath.
Many psychopaths find it hard to manage their feelings well. As a rule, many of them see the world from a selfish point of view. Therefore, many psychopaths experience that the entire world is against them (Psychiatric Times, The Hidden Suffering of the Psychopath, 2014).
The biggest problem for you as a spouse comes when the psychopath uses his misfortune to justify the violence. Thus, as a victim of violence, you will also pay the price for things you have neither any control nor sway over.
Addicts have different characteristics. Many addicts are impulsive, find it difficult to cope with stress and do not consider common rules to apply to them (Addiction Outreach Clinic, Personality traits of an addict).
As the spouse of an addict, you may find your violent husband to be unpredictable. You may also find that you are unable to talk to him about what is legal and what is not.
Regardless of whether your violent husband is a psychopath or an addict, we strongly recommend that you seek professional help! At the Danish Immigrant Counselling, we have 25 years of experience in consulting and helping foreign women who live with violence in their intimate relationships.