Domestic violence in Brazil: how it is and what are the challenges

Violence against women is a serious problem that must be tackled by society as a whole. Year in and year out, the number of Brazilian victims continues to skyrocket.

Amidst the pandemic of the new coronavirus, according to the Monitor of Domestic and Family Violence against Women in the Period of Social Isolation, of the Public Security Institute, there are already nearly 120 thousand cases of bodily injury resulting from domestic aggression in 2020.

What is domestic and family violence?

According to the concept of the Maria da Penha Law (Law nº 11.340/2006), domestic and family violence is considered

“any action or omission based on gender that causes death, injury, physical, sexual or psychological suffering and moral or property damage”.

In the legal concept, it is clear that violence can be physical, sexual, psychological, moral or patrimonial. Contrary to what many people think, most of the times domestic and family violence does not start with physical aggression, which can only occur as its last stage.

Cycle of Domestic Violence

As highlighted above, physical aggression is not the beginning of violence, but the end of it. This is because, as noted, there are several types of violence. In the marital context, there is a cycle of violence that is constantly repeated and through which many women go without realizing its harmfulness, as noted by psychologist Lenore Walker in “Cycle of Domestic Violence”, 1979, which created the ascending spiral cycle of violence:

Phase 1: In this phase, the tension between the couple increases due to the greater irritability of the aggressor, who is more stressed, aggressive, blaming the victim and trying to make her afraid, while the victim finds herself “walking on eggs” when searching anyway not provoke or further irritate the aggressor. At this stage, psychological and moral violence are more evident.

Phase 2: there is the height of violence, in which the aggressor explodes and all the tension from the previous phase is materialized in the violence previously listed. The denunciation of violence usually occurs at this stage, however not all women leave it unharmed, as the aggression can result in the victim’s death. Phase 3: after the explosion, the aggressor regrets, and in this phase presents behaviors that seek reconciliation with the victim. The individual demonstrates remorse, promises that he will change, seeks to justify his moment of explosion, becomes loving, affectionate. This behavior, together with the feelings that take over the woman, such as fear, guilt and illusion, ends up convincing her to continue the relationship. However, the cycle will repeat itself again.

The important point is that phases can occur in shorter and shorter periods, having increasingly serious consequences.

Why is domestic and family violence growing in isolation?

The need to practice social isolation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic brought many consequences to the lives of all people. Positives for some and negatives for others. Women belong to the group that has felt the negative effects, given the exponential increase in domestic and family violence.

This is due to a number of factors, such as the loss or decrease in family income due to unemployment, suspension of work activities, overload of household tasks, including taking care of children outside of school, increased consumption of alcoholic beverages, isolation of the victim of their friends and family, and other situations that increase tension in domestic relationships.

For these reasons, this increase did not occur exclusively in Brazil. Domestic violence has also grown significantly in other countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic.


The Maria da Penha Law (No. 11,340), in force since 2006, created mechanisms to prevent and curb domestic and family violence against women. It is considered an advance in the protection of women, encompassing the countless forms of violence, such as physical, psychological, sexual, patrimonial and moral. It also provides for integrated prevention measures, assistance to women victims and emergency protective measures.

Despite having existed for over 14 years, the Brazilian population still knows little about the Maria da Penha Law. The survey Domestic and Family Violence against Women – 2019, carried out by DataSenado, in partnership with the Observatório da Mulher against Violence, indicates that 68% of the women interviewed say they know little and 11% claim they do not know anything about the law. Only 19% of women say they know a lot about the law.

Another important legislation in the country is Law No. 13.104, known as the “femicide law”, of 2015. The rule modifies the Brazilian Penal Code, from 1940, and provides for femicide as a qualifying circumstance for the crime of homicide, standardizing the intentional homicide against women because of their female status or due to domestic violence.

How To Report

The simplest way is through the following channels, which operate throughout the Brazilian territory:

Dial 180 – Women’s Call Center, for complaints, or

Dial 190 – Military Police, for emergency action.

The victim can also go to the nearest Police Station to file a police report.

Ligue 180 is open 24 hours a day, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. The service maintained services during the Covid-19 pandemic. On all platforms, complaints are free, anonymous and receive a protocol number so that the complainant can follow the progress.

It is important to remember that if you are not a victim, but witness any situation of domestic and family violence, you can also report it on behalf of the victim and help save her life. See this example released by the Maria da Penha Institute.

There are several other channels, such as the Public Defender’s Office and specialized Police Stations. In some cities, there are also assistance and reception services, such as Casa da Mulher – with specialized services, or Casas Abrigo – when victims have nowhere to go.

Technologies to Combat Domestic Violence

Created by a company in São Paulo, Synergye Tecnologia da Informação that also operates in the market of electronic monitoring of prisoners, developed an electronic monitoring solution for domestic violence that consists of a sophisticated proximity notification system used to protect victims. Through GNSS location monitoring, the Software determines the location of an attacker and the proximity of the protected victim, 24 hours a day.

previously configured and determined by court order, from the victim, allowing the activation of alerts if the aggressor approaches the predetermined radius in the system. The solution also works on a small and safe device created by the company specifically for this type of situation, it is the device called Panic Button. In both cases, the victim can immediately call the Monitoring Center, will verify their location and will immediately call the police.

These are modern solutions that facilitate communication between the victim and the Monitoring Center, which is now performed in an agile and direct manner, ensuring greater protection for these women.

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