Socialt medborgarskap och möjligheten till ett självständigt liv – ekonomiskt bistånd för kvinnor som har lämnat en våldsam partner

  • Rickard Ulmestig
  • Alexandru Panican


Social citizenship and the opportunity for an independent life – Social assistance for women who have left a violent partner

Economic security is significant for a woman’s possibility to leave a violent partner. In Sweden women under these circumstances are sometimes forced to rely on social assistance. The aim is to understand the social services’ handling of these women applying for social assistance. The study starts from a citizenship perspective, where women’s descriptions are analysed. The study is based on 13 semi-structured interviews in three municipalities with women survivors of domestic violence. These survivors have been highlighted as a prioritized group on the political arena. They meet a social assistance system which is supposed to be built on citizenship rights according to the Social Services Act. From the empirical material, however, we can conclude that the survivors’ basic needs are dependent on means tests in order to assess who is a deserving client in implementing the right to social assistance based on discretionary power on the local level. The survivors describe how the case workers choose in certain cases to prioritize the municipalities’ economy over the intentions of the Social Services Act. It becomes clear that the conditions for receiving social assistance are to be given a subordinate position. The condition for being able to obtain social assistance are described by the survivors as accepting limitations of privacy, autonomy and self-determination. Summarizing, the core of the poor relief logic is that the relief can never be a right for survivors of domestic violence in Sweden.