Social and psychological assistance

Estonian law provides for state-funded psychological and legal counselling as well as safe temporary accommodation to victims of domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence have the right to receive state-funded social rehabilitation services such as social, psychological and legal assistance to help them to safely exit an abusive relationship.

By ensuring and funding social rehabilitation services for adult victims of violence, the State has recognized that victims of domestic violence need, and are entitled to, social and psychological help in order to exit a power and control relationship of domestic violence. Further, legal assistance is important for preparing and submitting an application for temporary protection against violence, assist victims in criminal proceedings, and to help victims of domestic violence to reach a just resolution in divorce proceedings, child related disputes and the division of spousal property.

What kind of assistance may a victim receive?

Women who are victims of domestic violence can receive assistance from women’s support centres funded by the Social Insurance Board. There are 14 support centres across Estonia. Support centre service includes:

  • provision of safe temporary accommodation, if necessary, to the victim and her children (for up to 6 months)
  • crisis counselling of the victim and her children
  • case based counselling of the victim, including sharing of information concerning opportunities to get help outside the support centre
  • if necessary, psychological counselling or psychotherapy for the victim
  • if necessary, legal counselling of the victim
  • assessment of the need for help of the children accompanying the victim and their initial counselling

In addition, all victims are entitled to receive support from the general victim support unit of the Social Insurance Board. Victim support centres, which are located in all major cities, provide free counselling, including emotional support, information on how to get help, and guidance in communicating with other relevant authorities.  Victims also have the option to receive advice from the free victim helpline 116 006 or via online chat at, which are both available 24/7 and advice is provided in Estonian, Russian and English.

How to receive the assistance

The women’s support centre service does not require referral, any victim of violence against women may contact the women’s support centre directly for help. Services are provided regardless of the victim’s place of residence. The victim of violence is not obligated to file a report or to cooperate in criminal proceedings in order to get state funded support services.

Supervision over the service of the women’s support centres is exercised by the Social Insurance Board. Therefore, if you have a complaint about the service, you can file it with the Social Insurance Board, which is an insitution under the area of responsibility of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

Which human rights violations may there be?

The ability or failure of the State to provide help and assistance to victims of domestic violence should be seen in the light of the due diligence standard. It may result in a violation of human rights where state or municipal institutions deny funded help or assistance to a victim without lawful grounds.

The right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life

The State’s failure to provide help and a support system for domestic violence victims may, in certain cases, result in a violation of the right to life, the prohibition of inhumane or degrading treatment and the right to private and family life. 

Prohibition of discrimination

Domestic violence is considered to be a form of discrimination against women, as it affects mainly women. If the State (in this case – the pertinent authorities) fails to effectively respond and provide help and support to the victims of domestic violence in cases of immediate threats to their lives, freedom or health, it may result in a violation of the prohibition of discrimination in conjunction with a violation of the right to life and/or the prohibition against inhumane or degrading treatment, and the right to private and family life. 


Last updated 08/09/2021