“Violence and abuse in close relationships can take many forms and is sadly all too common, even here in Iceland.” So begins Eliza Reid’s introduction to the National Emergency Number’s new online effort (112.is) to reach sufferers, perpetrators and families affected by domestic abuse. The online chat is part of Iceland’s government’s attempt to address domestic violence during the global pandemic.
The online gateway for domestic violence centres around Iceland was officially opened in October but is now available in English and Polish in addition to Icelandic. The most significant change offered by the new platform is that people affected by domestic violence can now contact emergency services not only by calling Iceland’s emergency number, 112 but also via online chat on their website. A notice from the Emergency Services states that the need for such a central information hub has never been greater than in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the pandemic’s effect on households and mental health, the holidays often cause increased strain on families causing tension and violence.
Eliza Reid, co-founder of Iceland’s Writers’ Retreat and wife of President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson officially introduced the English and Polish part of the website. In her online address, she stated that “ Violence and abuse can take place across all, ethnicities, educational backgrounds, socio-economic class, religion, sexual orientation, gender. It can happen to people that you know, to your neighbours, to your family members, and we really need to be looking out for each other.” She spoke on different forms of abuse and the resources available through 112.is, such as the Women’s Shelter, Stígamót, Bjarmahlíð and Bjarkarhlíð, located in Reykjavík and Akureyri. If you’ve experienced any such kind of abuse, either if you’re experiencing it now or if you have in the past, or if you’re concerned that you or someone that you know may be experiencing such abuse in the near future, I encourage you to go to 112.is where you can have an anonymous chat online with someone and you can also see all kinds of resources about the services that are available to you and the help that you can seek.”
The online effort of 112 is one of the main tasks suggested to unite efforts against violence in times of trauma and economic difficulties due to COVID-19. The team’s directors are National Police Commissioner Sigríður Björk Guðjónsdóttir and Eygló Harðardóttir. The Emergency Response Services have also been tasked with organising a campaign to encourage people to disclose violence and seek help with 112.
The full video can be seen below and everyone who has witnessed or experienced domestic abuse is encouraged to visit www.112.is.