Security Research

SNaP – Special Needs and Protection orders
Police and judicial protection in cases of violence in close social relationships – the situation of women with special needs

Project Management: Dr. Birgitt Haller
Implementation:    Mag. Dr. Helga Amesberger
Dr. Birgitt Haller
Funded by:    European Commission/ Daphne III
Federal Ministry of Health and Women's Affairs
Completed: March 2016
Partners: CESIS – Centro De Estudos Para A Internvenção Social (PT)
DHPol – Deutsche Hochschule der Polizei (DE)
Safe Ireland (IE)
University of Bialystok (PL)
Zoom – Gesellschaft für prospektive Entwicklungen e.V. (DE)
 Downloads: National Report Austria

International Report

Policy Paper Austria

Persons who are physically and cognitively impaired, or mentally ill, very frequently suffer from physical, psychological and sexual abuse. The Daphne III research project investigated whether barring orders, which the Austrian police impose annually on more than 8,000 times due to violence in the family, are also effective for the aforementioned people. Safe zones, established by barring orders or interim injunctions should keep the offender at distance of the victim; consequently, the perpetrators are restricted from contacting the victim, if at all. However, this is only possible if the protected person is mentally fit to make decision and live independently – if such a person is dependent on the perpetrator, the described separation may be counterproductive and even lead to a worsening of the situation, e.g. living in a care-home.

In the study, "special needs" were not only revoked in cases of physical and mental impairments and included other disadvantages originating in legal or social conditions or from individual characteristics. For example, a migrant who speaks little or no German needs additional support (e.g. translation) to be able to describe the abuse she underwent. Such a victim would often find it difficult to obtain access to protection measures.

Austria is a role model concerning protection measures in cases of domestic abuse. The study has shown that the Protection against Violence Act also provides protection for victims with specific needs, provided that their individual needs are taken in consideration and the necessary support measures are provided.

As has been analysed in the National Research Report and the Policy Paper, the later addresses in particular politicians, police, judiciary, and victims’ protection and counselling centres, there is a need for improvement, particularly concerning the cooperation of all of the professional groups involved as well as in the documentation of impairments and regarding the access to victim protection. Fast, efficient and coordinated action between the police, victim protection and other support organizations is crucial. In order to guarantee an optimum victim protection for groups with specific needs, it is necessary to include impairments into the risk analysis, and to pass the relevant information on to victim protection institutions.

Effective victim protection means accessibility as well as appropriate processing of information, low-level counselling and facilitation of communication. This is true for both people with speech impairment and for non-German speakers. Since there is little awareness at all levels of society concerning the specific needs of disabled victims, appropriate campaigns and other awareness-raising measures should be implemented.