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Domestic violence cases rise 33%

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Cases of domestic violence in Cyprus sharply increased by around 33% in 2021 compared to 2020 and 106% compared to pre-coronavirus 2019, according to data provided by the Association for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (SPAVO).

In comments to the Cyprus News Agency, SPAVO’s president Dr Andri Andronikou warned the cases reported are merely the tip of the iceberg.

She said the numbers are not representative, considering that just 25% of domestic violence incidents are reported, while many victims coming forward are turned away by authorities.

“Therefore, the numbers cannot tell the whole story and the gravity of the situation.

“Many cases go unrecorded either because the victims choose not to report them or because authorities fail to recognise them as domestic violence incidents.”

Andronikou said that SPAVO’s studies suggest that some women are abused up to 30 times before calling for help.

Some of the reasons behind the decision not to report domestic violence include fear of retaliation from the perpetrator and not being believed.

In many cases, as Andronikou said, the victim tends to justify the attacker, who is often the father of her children, with the hope the latter might change over time.

The type of domestic violence endured ranges from sexual abuse, which involves rape, unsolicited sexual intercourse and verbal sexual harassment.

It could also include threats and intimidation.

Also, physical abuse includes slapping, pushing, burning, and using a knife or any weapon to cause bodily harm. Finally, psychological violence involves insults, humiliation, or coercive control.

Andronikou noted that sexual abuse goes across all socio-economic, educational, or religious strata, while 87% of the victims are women.

Men can also be victims, but women were “disproportionately affected”.

Concerning the social and economic costs, Andronikou noted that violence against women in the EU costs €289 bln every year, as it pushes incidents of depression up, increases the cost of criminal justice services, and has a toll on economic production.

The cost of civil justice services for divorces and proceedings for childcare, housing assistance and child protection is also included in the bill.

SPAVO’s helpline is 1440, and the SMS Support Line can be reached at 99984042.

A Live-Chat Service is also available at www.domviolence.org.cy.

Online chats are automatically deleted on both sides of the conversation to protect the victim.