Intimate partner violence?

How do I know if I am a victim of intimate partner violence?

If you are afraid of the reaction of your partner, you feel put down, you fear always doing the wrong thing, that he or she controls you and your interactions with others, it is likely that there is violence in your relationship. But if your partner attacks you verbally, physically or sexual, it is obvious that you are in a violent situation.


Does violence occur in all types of environments?

Yes, it can affect people in all environments, from the wealthy to the more disadvantaged, young and old, Swiss and foreigner. All types of couple can be affected (heterosexual, married or not, LGBTQ)


Can women be violent within a couple?

Yes, violence is not linked to the gender of the person. It can be done by a woman as much as a man.


Violence or argument?

Violence is an unequal relationship between the partners.

The partner who attacks

  • Tries consciously or unconsciously to control or dominate the other

The person being attacked

  • Has their self-esteem hurt (feels pathetic, incapable, useless)

Argument is where:

  • The partners express a disagreement in a heated fashion
  • The partners criticize what the other person does, not who they are

My boyfriend is jealous all the time, is that normal?

Jealousy is present in a relationship when your partner stops you systematically from doing what you want in order to control you. This is not normal in a relationship.


My partner treats me like I'm pathetic, good for nothing. Is that intimate partner violence?

If this is repeated, and you feel your self-esteem falling and you feel fear, this could well be the case.


My husband slapped me one time and he said he wouldn't do it again. Can I believe him?

It is possible that this violent action does not happen again. However, these excuses habitually occur as part of a "cycle of violence" often seen in the behaviour of an abuser: violent episodes are interspersed by periods which are more or less calm, during which the abuser makes excuses and swears it won't happen again. There is therefore no guarantee that your husband will not do it again.


Does my girlfriend have the right to stop me going out?

No, each member of a couple has free movement and choice, no one can control the actions of another. Even if your partner gives their opinion on your outings and the people you see, you should be able to decide for yourself. 


Do I have to have sex with my partner?

No you have no obligation. Even if you are in a couple, you have the right to say no and to disagree. If you are forced to have sexual relations, don't hesitate to tell our counsellors.



My partner is violent but I don't want to leave. Can I still get help?

Of course, separation from a violent partner is not always the best solution. However, you should get help if you stay in your relationship to protect yourself from isolation.


My husband refuses to separate and is threatening me. Can I throw him out of the house?

When your partner threatens you or a violent episode breaks out, you can call the police, who can decide depending on the seriousness of the situation to remove him from the premises for several days. In case of separation, the house is accorded to one of the partners only. The person who has no right to occupy that accommodation can be expelled from it. Our association can provide information and help you take steps to separate from your husband.


I have decided to separate but I am afraid to tell my partner. How can I protect myself?

The moment of separation is particularly difficult in the context of intimate partner violence. You should prepare the announcement and the separation with the support of people in your network and/or the professional of our association. Take measures to protect your safety like for example having a place where you can go if the violence worsens.


If we separate, is there a risk I will lose my residence permit?

As far as your residence permit and the conditions for its renewal are concerned, that depends on numerous factors, notably the number of years of marriage and the level of integration in Swiss society. It is indispensable that you take advice from a specialized legal service.


My husband threatens to kill us if I ask for a divorce, how can I protect myself and my children?

The threats of your partner should be taken very seriously. Death threats are considered a serious crime. The law can protect you. You should go to the police and professional service for support.



How can I make a complaint to the police against my partner?

You can directly go to the police at any station or write to the office of the Public Prosecutor (Ministère Public). You can ask someone professional to help you take these steps.


What does the law say about intimate partner violence?

Being violent within the context of a couple is forbidden by law (Swiss penal code). By couple we mean:

  • Married couples
  • Both heterosexual and homosexual partners
  • Couples who are divorced for less than one year
  • Couples who are separated for less than one year

Acts of violence that are prosecuted

  • Murder
  • Attempted murder
  • Grievous bodily harm or Aggravated assault
  • Imprisonment
  • Coercion
  • Actual bodily harm or Assault causing bodily harm
  • Repeated instances of assault
  • Threats
  • Sexual abuse
  • Rape

Offenses committed in the context of a couple are prosecuted if the case is reported to the police. The victim may make an accusation to the authorities (Police of Public Prosecutor). A witness (family, neighbor, colleague) can also report these events to the authorities.

The deadline for getting the authorities involved goes from three months to several years depending on the events.

At any point, the victim can demand a stay of proceedings.



Is it better to stay with someone who treats you badly for the sake of the children?

Children feel the emotions of their parents. They are always affected by a violent relationship. You should consider how to adequately protect your children from intimate partner violence whether you decide to stay with your partner or not.


What is the impact of intimate partner violence on my children?

The impacts are serious. It can affect a child's health and their development, and also their personality and character. Their relationship with their parents, their brothers and sisters as well as their environment (school, work, social life) suffers consequences. Our mother-child counselling team is here to help you.



I passed my neighbour twice with a black eye. But I do not hear shouting. What can I do?

If you think that your neighbor is the victim of intimate partner violence, get in touch with our association to be helped as a witness.


How can I make my friend understand that her boyfriend is treating her badly?

It is often difficult to see someone you care for in a harmful situation. Being concerned and staying close to your friend without judging her seems to be the best way of dealing with it. You can also suggest that she gets in touch with our association to discuss the situation.