Victims of domestic and sexual violence are eligible to receive mental health support for trauma recovery, regardless of whether a criminal proceeding takes place.
According to the Act, mental health support for trauma recovery is provided to witnesses in criminal proceedings on the same basis as the victims themselves.
To enhance assistance, the Social Insurance Board is granted the right to exchange information with other institutions and specialists assisting high-risk adult victims of domestic violence.
The crime victim compensation becomes more accessible to those in need, and the application process is made simpler.
"Improving information exchange and enhancing service accessibility means more effective handling of criminal cases and also contributes to better support and faster recovery for traumatized individuals," said Minister of Social Protection Signe Riisalo. "Victim support is much more than just financial compensation or services, and therefore it is important that victims do not feel alone with their concerns and that necessary assistance reaches them more easily and quickly," added Riisalo.
Kaire Tamm, the head of the Victim Support and Prevention Department at the Social Insurance Board, explained that the development of victim support services in recent years has been rapid, and the previous Victim Support Act had become outdated. "A large portion of victims do not reach the police, victim support, or the healthcare system, and therefore do not receive the available assistance that could help them recover from trauma. "The aim of creating the new law was, on one hand, to ensure that more individuals who have experienced trauma reach victim support services, on the other hand, to increase the accessibility of services and compensation, and thirdly, to improve their quality," Tamm added.
Close to 16,000 cases of domestic violence are registered annually, but currently, significantly fewer people are accessing victim support services than the number of individuals reported as victims according to research and statistics.
The new Victim Support Act also includes provisions for sexual violence crisis support, assistance in renouncing violence, psychosocial support in crisis situations, and the core services of victim support. The services provided to women's support centers, restorative justice, and victims of human trafficking have been enhanced. Furthermore, the content and conditions of mental health support for trauma recovery have been updated as well.
Improving the accessibility of victim support services costs approximately two million euros per year.