Emergency calls to Helsinki’s social services department rose shortly before Christmas and continued through the holidays.
Social workers rushed victims to domestic violence shelters and hotels.
The emergency social services unit in Helsinki reports that it received more calls from people with foreign backgrounds compared to last year. Social workers point out that domestic violence perpetrators, including those who are physically abusive, come from all parts of society.
”It’s not limited to marginalised families. Well-off families have also sought our help,” says Outi Raide of Helsinki City's emergency social services unit.
Raide, who often works over Christmas, says she is alarmed by the dramatic rise in domestic abuse. She says heavy drinking, a tendency towards violent behaviour and relationship problems underlie the increase in the volume of calls this year.
Drinking often fuels violent fights; however, alcoholic families usually manage to hold things together over the holidays, according to Raide. This year tensions in many families reached a breaking point before Christmas arrived.
”Perhaps financial worries are behind this,” says Outi Raide. “The recession has robbed families of various support services. Kids are in trouble because their problems haven’t been addressed in time.”