Physical, psychological and social violence

In Denmark, both physical and psychological as well as social violence is illegal.

Therefore, if you want to get a divorce because of violence, certain specific rules will apply to you. First of all, you must be able to prove that the violence has occurred. In other words, it is crucial that you report the violence to the police, go to the emergency room and gather evidence of the violence.

Keep in mind that you must not ignore the violence for fear of rumours, your spouse, anxiety about having your residence permit revoked or losing the opportunity to find a new husband. To start an independent life in Denmark, you must go against the silence. If you have children, you must also report the violence to the child protection services.

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. Moreover, psychological and social violence are often a crime that happens within the home.

How do you prove the violence?

The Danish Immigrant Counselling recommends that you keep a diary of violent episodes so that you can substantiate them. You should also save all the evidence you have. This may include text messages, audio recordings and police reports. These can namely prove that you are a victim of violence.

You must describe in details specific episodes in the diary. That is to say, you must specify date and time. You must also write what was said and/or done by your husband or his allies when you were a victim of violence.

The violence does not have to be perpetrated by your own husband only. He may easily involve one, two or more people in the violence against you. Cases where several people gang up and engage in violence are usually typical for people who originate in the Middle East and profess Islam. This is in contrast with the kind of violence that is commonly perpetrated by ethnic Danes. Families here seldom support violence.

What is physical, psychological and social violence?

Physical violence is often something that your husband does to you which causes you to feel physical harm or pain. Physical harm will typically leave visible marks on your body. It will often involve punches, slaps, kicks, forced sex and attempts to choke you.

When your husband is violent, he may also use tools. He may strike you using various objects lying around the home — but he can also happen to use weapons, for example, knives.

Physical violence does not have to leave bruises on you. Physical violence can namely also include everything, from isolating and locking you up to denying you sleep and food.

Psychological violence is the most widespread form of violence in Denmark. Even though it is actually the most damaging form of violence, it often remains overlooked.

You can recognise psychological violence by the fact that it often has to do with your own personality and doings. This type of violence can make you feel constantly belittled, bullied, humiliated, offended, manipulated, dominated and threatened by your husband or his allies. It can also take the form of stalking, pursuit and similar. If you experience stalking and pursuit, you have the opportunity to seek a restraining order. This means that the police can prohibit this person from stalking, pursuing and generally contacting you.

In order for us to be able to talk about psychological violence, the violence must have occurred more than once. This often means that this kind of violence will leave marks on your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Threats constitute a major element in this form of violence. One of the threats that is most commonly used is that if you do not obey your husband, you will be sent back to your home country. Therefore, it is often foreign women who live with this threat. There may also be death threats, both to your own and your children’s lives. Your husband may also threaten to take his own life if you do not do what he says.

Social violence can remind a lot of psychological violence. Therefore, the line between the two forms of violence is not always clear. However, a frequent sign of social violence is if your husband prevents you to work, get an education in Danish or go out shopping by yourself. He or one of his allies will often want to accompany you. Another sign of social violence is if you, for example, need to go to the doctor’s and a member of the family demands to accompany you as an interpreter.

What can you do to keep your temporary residence permit?

You must acknowledge, identify and report the violence. This will raise your chances of keeping your residence permit.

‘Acknowledge’ here means that you realise that you are a victim of violence. ‘Identify’ signifies that you describe the violence you have suffered. ‘Report’ is to tell and describe to the police that you are a victim of violence.

The Danish Immigration Service will reassess your temporary residence permit if you divorce the man who has brought you to Denmark as a reunited spouse. If you want to get a divorce from — or have divorced — your husband because of violence he has perpetrated, it is important that you procure documentation of the violence. This will be of decisive importance for your residence permit.

The documentation can include supporting documents from the emergency room and papers showing that you have reported a violent incident. Such evidence and documents are important so that the Danish Immigration Service can assess if they can extend or must revoke your residence permit.

Therefore, it is very important that you:

  1. Report the episodes of violence.
  2. Obtain a copy of such reports. This is important because such documentation will give you a greater chance of keeping your residence permit in accordance with Section 9c(1).

It takes the Danish Immigration Service 6 to 12 months to 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.