179,179 – that is the number of people who were registered by the police in Germany as victims of domestic violence last year. That is 9.3 percent more than in 2021, as the “Welt am Sonntag” reports, citing the interior ministries and state criminal investigation offices of the 16 federal states. Then there are all the cases that go unreported because the victims don’t dare to report it. According to the report, partners, ex-partners and family members are recorded as perpetrators. Two thirds of the victims are women.

It was only at the beginning of the week that the survey “Field of Conflict with Masculinity” by the organization Plan International Germany triggered a controversy. Among other things, a third of the 18- to 35-year-old men surveyed stated that they found it acceptable if they “slipped their hands” in an argument with their partner. About a third also stated that they had already become violent to instill respect in their partner. How meaningful these numbers actually are, however, was hotly debated after publication. Experts criticized, among other things, the methodology of the survey.

However, it is undisputed that domestic violence is also a problem in this country. This can be seen, for example, in the crime statistics. According to the figures given by the “Welt am Sonntag”, the Saarland recorded the strongest increase in comparison to the federal states with 19.7 percent (3178 victims). They are followed by Thuringia (plus 18.1 percent, 3,812 victims) and Baden-Württemberg (plus 13.1 percent, 14,969 victims). Overall, 15 federal states report significantly more victims. Their number fell only in Bremen (minus 13.6 percent, 2615 victims). North Rhine-Westphalia has 37,141 victims (plus 8.5 percent).

It is striking that in the most populous federal state, the number of physical injuries in domestic violence has increased by 26.2 percent in a five-year comparison. NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) said: “The fuse has become shorter for many people and the general tone is rougher. The social climate has changed.” This does not stop at the front doors either. “More violence has set in at home.”

According to the report, the data from the federal states are included in a situation report that is being prepared for the first time by the Federal Criminal Police Office and will be presented in Berlin on July 3 by its President Holger Münch, Federal Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) and Family Minister Lisa Paus (Greens). In addition, they are currently having a large so-called dark field study carried out.

“Domestic violence often happens in the private sphere,” Paus told the newspaper. “Feelings of shame and guilt on the part of those affected often mean that the crimes remain in the dark and are rarely reported to the police. This dark field is much larger than the bright field.” She is also planning a state coordination office to combat domestic violence across departments.

Faeser calls for more police checks when these perpetrators have been expelled from the home after violent attacks. “This must be consistently controlled so that perpetrators do not return quickly,” said the SPD politician. Because domestic violence is not a private matter, but a serious social problem. “Violence doesn’t just start with beatings or abuse: It’s also about stalking and psychological terror.”

The President of the German Caritas Association, Eva Maria Welskop-Deffaa, blames the aftermath of the corona pandemic for the increase in violence. “Obviously, the tense living situation of the Corona years was reflected in an increased willingness to use violence in the family,” she told the newspaper.

Maria Loheide, head of social policy at the Diakonie, called the increase in the number of victims of violence frightening. “One reason for the increase could be that there has been an overall increase in awareness of domestic violence, and after the uncertain years of the pandemic, women are now more likely to report cases of violence,” she told the newspaper.

Anyone who has been affected by violence and would like to seek help can find it at organizations such as the Weißer Ring, Terre des Femmes or Frauen gegen Demokratie e.V. Those who do not want to or cannot appear in person can, for example, contact the Weißer Ring victim hotline anonymously and free of charge Searching for help. The number can be reached between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily on 116 006.