The number of clients in shelters for victims of domestic violence increased by four percent last year compared to that in the previous year, according to the National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL).
The number of both adult clients and children increased, particularly the number of clients coming to a shelter without children increased significantly, said the THL in a press release on Wednesday.
In 2022, the shelters had more than 5,000 clients, 57% of whom were adults and 43% children. Of the adults, 91% were women and 9% were men.
The total number of days spent by the victims in shelters was about 90,000, which was about 5,000 more than in 2021.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of shelters for victims of domestic violence increased every year since 2015. The pandemic broke the trend, and the number of shelter clients decreased in 2020 and 2021.
“The number of clients in the shelters does not only mean that the need for the service has increased. The availability of shelter services has significantly improved in recent years as the number of shelters has increased in Finland. As a result, more of those who needed help have now also received it,” said Suvi Nipuli, Development Manager of THL´s Shelter Services.
The number of adults coming to a shelter alone without children continued the earlier rise last year, when for the first time, more than half of the adults coming to a shelter came without children.
The Act on Shelter Services took effect in 2015, after which a person experiencing violence in close relationships or the threat of violence did not need a separate referral to access the service.
“Before the Act on Shelter Services, mainly families with children received payment commitments for shelter services. Each year, information on the fact that shelters serve everyone equally, is reaching professionals and the general population better and better. After the Act on Shelter Services took effect, the service has been better accessible to all client groups”, Nipuli said.
At the end of 2022, there were a total of 29 shelters in Finland providing a total of 228 places for clients coming as a family or alone. In recent years, it has been possible to significantly increase the number of shelters. There are currently 230 family places in Finland.
A shelter provides not only temporary protection but also active measures to stop violence in close relationships. The goal is for more adults and children to be able to continue their lives without violence or the threat of violence after the shelter period.
Shelter services are state-funded special services for those who have experienced violence in close relationships or are living under threat of it.