Berlin Senate pledges to change services for men* affected by domestic violence in the capital city
5. May 2023
About 70 people from Berlin and Brandenburg and with very different professional backgrounds accepted the invitation to the Refugio, Berlin Neukölln on April 27, 2023. Torsten Siegemund from the BFKM and Tobias Schiefer from the SKM Federal Association opened the symposium “From shame to help – men* as victims of domestic violence in Berlin” with a brief presentation of the projects and sponsors present.
The happy news
We were very pleased that the Head of the Public Safety and Order Department in the Berlin Senate for Internal Affairs, Digitization and Sport, Mr. Klaus Zuch, was available for a welcoming speech. We were even happier about the chosen words. As a matter of course, he spoke of the fact that there are men affected by violence in Berlin and that there are no suitable offers available for them. Something urgently needs to change about that. Around 2,400 men* were registered as victims of domestic violence in Berlin in 2022. The police are often at a loss. “We need appropriate places where affected men* can turn to!”, says Zuch. Five years ago, the participants of the then specialist conference agreed on this situation, drafted a resolution and made it available to the Senate. Unfortunately, not much has happened since then.
The second greeting from Dr. Dag Schölper from the Federal Forum for Men was originally supposed to sharply criticize the current untenable situation. Fortunately, Mr. Zuch’s words took the wind out of his sails, and hardly anyone expected that. Nevertheless, Dr. Schölper presented the situation that had lasted for years and called for measures for men affected by violence who, however, should not neglect the need to protect women.
In the following statements too, it became more than clear that the number of men* affected by violence is by no means insignificant. Men* being affected by violence is apparently perceived as normal, men* grow up with violence, both as victims and as perpetrators. We have to talk about this and reject violence in any form, says Rüdiger Jähne from the SKM Federal Association, who gave an introduction to the topic.
Since the founding of the men’s help hotline, which its director Björn Süfke introduced, the number of inquiries there has been increasing. They come from the help system, but more than 60% come from those affected themselves who are in acute emergencies. According to Süfke, it sometimes took them years to open up and seek help.
In the third lecture, Dr. Anne-Marie Gallrein of the BFKM presented the user statistics of the existing men’s shelters in 2021 very vividly. It shows that most men* from the same city/county where there is a shelter also make good use of these offers. In contrast, sheltered homes that are far away are rarely used. Because leaving the centre of life is rarely an option. This regionality leads to the conclusion that there is a need for comprehensive protection offers for men*, just like in Berlin.
The current situation in Berlin
In the panel discussion that followed, various bodies and institutions of victim protection from the federal level, other federal states and Berlin had their say. They presented the respective priorities and challenges. It became clear that the situation of the Berlin institutions with the issue of violence against men* is no longer acceptable. The representatives of the police, victim support, Weißer Ring and Stop Stalking Berlin agreed that the need for advice and protection for men* is constantly increasing and that there is an urgent need for gender-specific offers in Berlin. On the other hand, offers from other federal states were presented and their utilization as well as the positive use were emphasized.
In the concluding World Café, the participants were able to exchange ideas on three main topics: Needs for men*, needs for the network and services for perpetrators of violence. Here, too, the participants agreed:
There is a need for services for affected men*.
There is a need for networking for the actors.
There is a need for services for the perpetrators of violence, both for men* and women*.
The first step
The Secretary General of the SKM Federal Association, Stephan Buttgereit, emphasized that the SKM Berlin is available as a sponsor, with the expertise of the SKM Federal Association and the experience in building and operating shelters for men* in other federal states.
We are therefore pleased that the topic is has been met with the approval in the Senate and that the call for taking action is becoming increasingly important, and for the urgent need to be taken into account by setting up appropriate structures.
The organisers of the symposium
*We respect sexual and gender diversity.