The Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (48/104.), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life”. It encompasses physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family and elsewhere. It also requires member states to develop administrative, civil and penal sanctions in order to prevent violence against women. In 2010, the U.N. published a legislative handbook containing legislative and procedural recommendations for member states in order to eliminate violence against women.

Types of violence against women

The term violence against women is used to describe every type of violence that can and does occur on account of the victim’s gender. Below is a list of the most typical examples of relationship violence:

Verbal violence

Belittling, insulting, mocking, ridiculing of a woman (for her looks, religion or ethnicity, for instance); threatening to abuse or beat a woman; threatening to take the children or commit suicide

Psychological violence 


Denial of basic emotional needs; isolation or banning from friends, work, family, favorite activities; jealousy; methodical destruction of a woman’s self-confidence; renouncing the discussion of problems; constant blaming; breaking a woman’s valuables, breaking/throwing objects; threatening with a weapon; intimidating behavior (furious gaze, shouting); hostile interrogation; dangerous/scary driving; shutting down phone and other channels of communication; constant supervision over the phone; searching a woman’s pockets/bag

Physical violence

Pushing, slapping, strangling, pulling/ripping out hair, punching with fist, hitting with an object, kicking, biting, shaking, burning, threatening or assault with a weapon (knife, gun, heavy object), denial of basic physical needs (starving, dehydrating, sleep deprivation, controlling of excretion), confinement, lockout, tying up and restricting freedom of movement

Sexual violence

Coercion of unwanted sexual activity, sexual abuse, causing pain or humiliation with sex, sexual abuse with object, hurting genitalia, coercion of copulation with others/prostitution, restriction of reproductive rights: obstruction or coercion of contraception, coercion of pregnancy or abortion

Economic violence

Keeping a woman in financial dependency, discouraging or prohibiting work, taking a woman’s salary, questioning of daily expenses and obligating a woman to account for every penny, keeping a woman in check/blackmailing her with jointly owned company