Domestic violence

Domestic violence can take on many forms.

Domestic violence is not always physical. It can leave invisible scars. Domestic violence also includes psychological, social, economic, and sexual violence as well as stalking. It is also violence if threats of abuse are made.

Domestic violence can occur in a current relationship or between ex-partners, but also within the family. Even if the couple or the family lives separately. Victims of domestic violence are mostly women, and women tend to experience more severe forms of violence, but men can be affected too.

You might have heard of the term toxic relationship. Nowadays, we often talk about a toxic relationship when a relationship is emotionally abusive and draining. Behaviours such as manipulation, blaming, excessive jealousy or insults are common. But toxic relationships can also become physical. More about this in our questionnaire.

No matter what form of violence is used, the goal stays the same: Gaining and maintaining power and control over the other. Abusive relationships often follow a certain pattern. You can read more about the cycle of abuse here.

Are you a victim of violence?

Learn more about the different types of domestic violence:

Psychological Violence

Emotional or psychological violence can be very subtle.

Your partner insults you, threatens you with violence, yells at you, intimidates you, humiliates you, is excessively jealous, devalues you, wants to control you or makes you question your perception of reality. Psychological abuse is often hard to recognize because there are no physical signs. It leaves deep emotional scars.

Social violence

Social violence aims to isolate you from friends and family.

By cutting you off from your community, you becom more dependent. Social violence is often seen as part of psychological violence.

Your partner restricts your social life. He/she forbids you to meet other people, locks you up at home, controls phone calls to your family or other contacts you have with the outside world.

Economic violence

Economic violence involves maintaining control over finances.

Your partner controls your finances, forbids you to work or forces you to work, exploits you financially, exercise sole control over financial resources or keeps expenses secret. Financial control is an effective way to create strong dependencies. It is a common tactic to gain power and control in a relationship.

Physical violence

Physical violence is the most obvious form of violence.

Your partner is physically violent towards you. This includes hitting, choking, tying you up, slapping, kicking, pushing, biting, throwing object or attacking you with a weapon.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence in a relationship is often a taboo.

Many believe that sexual violence is something that happens between strangers. However, sexual violence is common in abusive relationships.

Your partner gets too close to you, touches or kisses you without consent, shows you pornographic pictures or videos, forces you to perform sexual acts or has sex with you when you do not want it.


Stalking involves repeated harassment and unwanted surveillance of a person. Usually, stalkers are not strangers and known to their victim. Many are stalked by their former or current partners.

It is a criminal offence.

Stalking can take many forms: repeated and unwanted phone calls and text messages, showing up to you place of work, waiting near your house, delivering unwanted gifts, making threats, spreading false or intimate information about you. Stalking can greatly affect your daily life. In the most serious cases, victims suffer real psychological terror and may be physically attacked.

What kind of violence is punishable?

Domestic violence is never acceptable, no matter what form of violence is used.

In Switzerland, it is punishable by law if you:

  • are physically assaulted (beating, kicking, choking, hitting with objects)
  • are locked up and harassed (including stalking)
  • are raped or forced to perform other sexual acts against your will
  • are threatened

If your partner does this, he or she can be prosecuted. If you are a victim of domestic abuse, reach out for help. The police and victim advisory centres are here to support you.

Psychological violence can also have serious consequences and leave deep emotional scars. You are not alone. There are various support services all over Switzerland that can support you - regardless of nationality, gender, age or social class.

Get help here