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Arguments and violence in the family

Arguments are part of family life. They occur in every relationship sometimes. However, you should consider and discuss what the boundaries of acceptable behaviour are during an argument.

  • If arguments pose a problem in your relationship, you should seek help, for example at couples counselling. There you will receive support in forming functional interaction and looking after your relationship.
  • Read more about functional interaction at the Good relationships page.
  • Tips for constructive arguments are available on the Vanhempainnetti service provided by the Mannerheim League for Child Welfare (in Finnish).

The difference between an argument and violence may be small. All actions that hurt, threaten or scare constitute violence. This page provides information on the different forms of violence.

Violence may have many other forms besides hurting someone physically. A safe adult protects the child from all forms of violence. Home is a place where all feelings should be allowed.

There are situations in which people have the right to feel anger or sadness, but violence is never part of arguing.

A couple having an argument is screaming at each other with pans in their hands.

If you are worried about your own or your partner’s behaviour or if it causes fear in the other members of your family, you should seek help. There are organisations operating in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area that provide support for the parties involved in violence, free of charge. If you are considering seeking help, it usually means you need it.

Below you can find information on organisations operating in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area that work with violence, providing advice and support.

Outside of office hours, you can contact the City of Helsinki’s emergency social services: 0206 96006.

In acute and threatening situations, you should immediately contact the police. If you cannot stay home because of a risk of violence, you can call any shelter to seek help to resolve the situation. You can also ask for advice from a professional online through the Finnish Online Family Shelter maintained by the Federation of Mother and Child Homes and Shelters.

Different forms of domestic violence

Source: Lyömätön linja Espoossa ry

Psychological and spiritual 




Violence against children can be all of the above, and in addition it can involve

  • creating fear by raging about
  • pulling the children’s hair and flicking them
  • bullying as if it were a game
  • breaking toys
  • shaking and rough handling
  • stopping a child from seeing other children or other children’s parents, or other people who are important to the child
  • prohibiting a child from attending school or hobbies, or making it harder for the child to attend these

Children can also be used as instruments in violence in the form of

  • being derogatory about the other parent or other people who are important to the child when the child is present
  • using the child to pass on negative messages between the parents
  • misusing visits with the child

Impact on the child

Both physical and psychological violence in the family are detrimental to the child’s growth and development, even if they are not targeted directly at the child. The child must be able to feel safe even if the adults are arguing and regardless of any crisis situations.

When a child lives in a family in which violence is used, the child does not learn to respect the integrity of others. An atmosphere of violence can evoke severe feelings of insecurity in the child, and this may be reflected as difficulties in committing to close relationships. Violence or a threat of violence are not part of arguing, and they are always damaging to all parties.

Domestic violence infringes the child’s human rights. According to the Constitution of Finland, the right to physical and psychological integrity and safety is part of the basic and human rights of us all, children included. The child’s right to participation, care, social resources and special protection are also among the key principles of the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Violence against children

Violence against children refers to being the target of physical or psychological violence or both, witnessing them, living in an atmosphere of violence, and the problems and threat of trauma these may cause to the child. Violence or a threat of violence bring with them a continuous fear that control’s the child’s life. Family and home are anchors in the child’s life. They should offer protection and bear the responsibility for ensuring that everyday life runs smoothly. This is why violence is most detrimental to children when it happens in their own home.

Sometimes parents or carers may lose their calm momentarily and shake the baby if they become angry or too tired. Shaking may cause serious damage to the baby and must never be done.

Physical violence within the family is a crime according to Finnish law. Violence usually does not stop until someone intervenes. On the contrary, it usually increases and becomes more brutal over time.

Traumatic experiences 

Help provided by organisations in Helsinki

For victims of violence:

Domestic Violence Unit, Pääkaupungin turvakoti ry

Help with violence, Monika-Naiset liitto ry

Phone service and peer groups - Naisten Linja Suomessa ry

For perpetrators of violence:

Lyömätön linja, Miessakit ry

Domestic Violence Unit, Pääkaupunkiseudun turvakoti ry

For children:

Domestic Violence Unit, Pääkaupunkiseudun turvakoti ry


09.03.2020 09:01