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Sweden to launch helpline for those who beat their partners

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Sweden to launch helpline for those who beat their partners
The helpline has been influenced by a successful scheme in the UK. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT
15:45 CET+01:00
A new domestic violence helpline is launching in Sweden. But it's not the victims who they want to get in touch, it's the perpetrators.
The helpline, which will be launched next January, will take calls from people who subject their partners or children to violent attacks,  or who are worried they might do so in future, and give them advice on how to stop it happening. 
 
“Every year about 30,000 victims ring the Swedish National Women's Helpline, but there is no obvious way of getting into contact with those perpetrating the violence,” Christina Ericson, who is leading the project at the County Administrative Board of Stockholm, told Swedish state broadcaster SVT. 
 
The pilot project is a joint venture between the county administrations of Skåne and Stockholm, and has inspired by the Respect Helpline for perpetrators of domestic violence launched in the UK in 2006. 
 
The helpline will be manned by social workers, therapists and psychologists who can give useful advice on the spot and also encourage those who phone to seek further help. 
 
 
“We think that the idea of a telephone line is excellent,” said Mikael Wejsfelt, who heads Malmö's domestic violence crisis centre. He hoped the line would encourage people who beat their partners to get in contact with him and his colleagues. 
 
“It means that there are going to be advertising campaigns which inform people that the line exists, and then that means that more people will probably be directed to us,” he said.  
 
His colleague, the sociologist Andreas Hansson, said that having the line would also help reduce the shame felt by those who perpetrate domestic violence. 
 
“A telephone line would send a signal that there are many who have these needs, and so hopefully reduce the shame a little, so that people feel more able to seek help.” 
 
 
Ericson said that the line should not be see as a replacement for support given to victims. 
 
“It's very important to support women and children affected by domestic violence,” she said. “But if we completely leave out this group [the perpetrators] the amount of violence in society will not come down.
 
"It's those who carry out violence who should take responsibility and when they do this, we should be there to help.” 
 
Sweden's helpline for victims of domestic violence, Kvinnofridslinjen, is 020-50 50 50. 
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