Cyprus Mail

Number of domestic abuse victims who won’t testify is growing

domestic abuse, domestic violence, victim, assault
File photo

The legal service has become increasingly concerned over the growing number of domestic abuse victims who pull back from court trials leading to perpetrators walking away scot-free.

A spokesperson from the attorney general’s office told the Cyprus Mail on Friday that in the past two years, 121 instances of family violence that came to the legal service never got to the sentencing stage.

Primarily, this is because the victims were threatened or bribed, left Cyprus, or disappeared, reconciled with the perpetrator either because of the children or because they moved on, or because the victim dropped the charges.

“We carried out an internal investigation because we found the numbers worrying and called a meeting to take action over this.”

The meeting was held on Thursday and included representatives from the justice ministry, health ministry, mental health services and social services.

Another contributing factor includes victims succumbing to pressure from relatives, or an overall resignation because court hearings can take up to four years.

“We discussed effective ways to change this, and efforts will continue,” the spokesperson said.

According to statistics by Spavo (the association for the prevention and handling of violence in the family) its helpline 1440 received 9,095 calls in 2022. Overall, it dealt with 3,122 cases of family violence.

Koula Lambrianidou, head of the vulnerable groups management department at the police, told Philenews that 2022 marked a 40 per cent increase in domestic abuse reports.

The spike is attributed to greater awareness from victims that they can file reports, and a belief that justice will be served, Lambrianidou said.

Every government department or service that attended the meeting has been tasked with coming up with ideas on how to support victims and deter the growing phenomenon. This includes giving victims a grace period to reconsider if they want to drop the charges.

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