Providing concrete support for victims of violence: umedo further expands network against silence with targeted communication
LNS has been offering the umedo service (www.umedo.lu) since the summer of 2018. umedo is aimed at adult victims of physical and/or sexual violence who have their case documented but initially do not want to file a complaint. Given that the topic is still particularly taboo, LNS initiated several communication measures in 2022 to sustainably break down barriers.
A targeted offer in cases of hidden violence
For Dr Martine Schaul, who is responsible for the umedo service at LNS, there is no shadow of a doubt as to the necessity of such a service: “In Luxembourg, too, physical violence is an issue that often takes place behind closed doors. Many victims of violence still hesitate to report it. With umedo, we offer a first step towards help, which initially has no legal consequences”.
In practice, victims of violence can make an appointment to be examined at LNS or in one of the partner hospitals to have the traces of the respective physical assault documented and kept for a period of up to 10 years. However, the file is only “activated” or handed over to legal authorities if the victim explicitly agrees to this.
Specially trained team of experienced doctors
Since 2018, the work of the umedo team has revealed two main themes: on the one hand, most patients were victims of physical violence, with sexual violence playing a lesser role compared to similar structures in neighbouring countries. Secondly, even though domestic violence mostly affects women, more and more male victims contact umedo.
Types of examinations range from documenting visible injuries to securing biological traces. “Every case is different. That is why our team is made up of specially trained doctors who have special experience in recognizing and assessing injuries due to external violence” says Dr Thorsten Schwark, ad interim head of Legal Medicine Department.
Encouraging victims, further strengthening partnerships
In order to be able to help significantly more victims of violence in the long run, LNS intensified its communication measures in 2022. New eye-catching and self-explaining visuals have been implemented and, in addition to verbal communication and flyers, videos in different languages and social media are now being used in order to reach a larger target group like young people and foreigners. Besides, professional partners, especially medical professionals, play a central role in the communication strategy.
“Doctors and hospitals, for example, are our organic partners when it comes to identifying victims of violence. We work hand in hand with them as well as with other organisations, and develop joint actions in working groups. Our common goal is to build a sustainable network against silence that victims of violence can rely on. Trust plays a key role in this, and building this trust takes time.”
Unser Ziel ist es, ein nachhaltiges Netzwerk gegen das Schweigen aufzubauen, auf das sich Opfer von Gewalt verlassen können.
Dr Thorsten Schwark
Ad interim Head of Legal Medicine Department