• Cecilie Dimanche Henriksen
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
Approximately 38.000 women in Denmark are exposed to physical domestic abuse each year, while twice as many are exposed to psychological abuse. Additionally, every sixth child grows up in a home where they are exposed to violence or witness violence. Furthermore, 12 women are killed by their partner or ex-partner each year. The motives for these murders are often jealousy and separation, and in several cases, domestic abuse has been involved previously.
Although there have been significant changes towards gender equality over the past century, men's violence against women can still be considered a social problem and an expression of men's dominance and women's oppression in society. Over the last few decades domestic abuse has moved from the privacy of the family house to the public sphere and has therefore become a subject for social work. Therefore, it is necessary to continuously develop social work in this field, so that women and children exposed to domestic abuse receive the necessary help. Social workers can encounter the problem in several areas of our society. However it is not adequately addressed in various education programs, and in many courses, it is not a part of the curriculum at all. Additionally, it can be assumed that this target group, to some extent challenges professionals, as the subject itself is associated with a certain degree of taboo in society. This thesis seeks a deeper knowledge of social work in this field. It investigates the experiences of women exposed to violence, including their experiences with domestic abuse as well as their encounters with representatives of the welfare state, highlighting the significance of social workers' knowledge on domestic abuse.
The analysis is based on seven qualitative interviews; three interviews with women who have been exposed to domestic abuse and four interviews with five professionals who work with abused women. The method used was semi-structured interviews with a hermeneutic scientific theoretical approach. The findings of the study indicate that women exposed to violence experience degradation both in relation to the violence itself and in relation to society's stigmatization of them as victims of violence, as well as their own self-stigmatization. This complicates their ability to leave the relationship and their interactions with social workers.

The women report feeling recognized in some encounters, where the social worker understands and acknowledges them and their stories. On the other hand, they more often experience a lack of recognition or disrespect in their encounters with social workers. Additionally, they come across social workers and professionals who lack knowledge and understanding regarding domestic abuse, which negatively affects their experiences of these encounters and result in a lack of recognition for the abused woman. In such cases, the social workers judgment and actions are often influenced by other external factors.
Conversely, the analysis shows that women have positive experiences with specialized interventions where help is based on specialized knowledge on domestic abuse. This thesis emphasizes the importance of education and knowledge among social workers, as well as society as a whole. There is a need for knowledge regarding violence and its consequences, as well as a need to challenge prejudices and stigmatization of women exposed to any form of abuse, in order to prevent and address domestic abuse.
Publication date1 Jun 2023
Number of pages85
ID: 532490906