Every individual has the right to live a life free of fear and violence. Too many individuals in Norway live in violent relationships. Rape and violence in close relationships is not a private matter or something that should be draped in silence and secrecy, these issues are a public responsibility of society.
There are many types of violence, and you might be uncertain whether you or someone you know is or has been exposed to violence? Perhaps you are worried that you are violent or using violence against others? Many people are uncertain of what violence is. Please continue reading, there is more to come on this subject in the following text.
Violence in a close relationship (also includes intimate partner or domestic violence) includes all physical and emotional violence and threats between both current family members and family of origin, including children living at home. Genital mutilation and forced marriage are also types of violence within close relationships.
Violence in close relationships is a crime according to Norwegian law. You can be certain that both the police and assistance services take these types of cases very seriously.
Most people believe that violence is only physical, for example, being hit, kicked or attacked and injured in other ways, but violence has many other forms other than the purely physical. Other examples of violence include being physically restrained, being verbally abused, humiliated, isolated or controlled.
The various forms of violence we usually discuss include:
- Physical violence: All forms of violence that involve physical contact such as kicking, hitting, hair-pulling, biting, scratching, physical restrainment, shaking, pushing, and choking. Locking someone away or isolating an individual are also examples of physical violence.
- Psychological/emotional violence: Using threatening or harsh words or tone of voice that threatens, hurts, offends or controls others. To be devaluating, being indifferent and humiliating others are also forms of psychological violence. Some examples of emotionally violent statements are: “I’m going to kill you”, “You are worthless”, “You’re so fat and ugly that no-one could ever love you”.
- Material violence: Breaking, destroying and throwing objects, punching walls and doors and similar actions.
- Sexual violence: any violating sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or force. Some examples include: sexual touching, fondling, giving/receiving oral sex, masturbation, intercourse, intercourse-like acts, rape, and other non-physical acts or attempts to carry out such acts such as sexual talk, indecent exposure/flashing, photographing, filming, voyeurism and displaying pornographic material.
- Financial violence: Controlling another individual’s finances; where one party is denied the right to exercise control over her/his own money or joint account.
- Latent violence: an experience of a “veiled threat” where there is an uncomfortable and menacing atmosphere prior to or just after an episode of violence.
- Violence used in child rearing: all corporal/physical and psychological/emotional punishment that is used as part of child rearing intended to alter or control the behavior of children and adolescents.
Many types of violence are illegal and automatically penalized under Norwegian law. Other violations may be defined as punishable offences depending on their severity, how often it has happened, or the circumstances under which it happened and some actions fall under other legal clauses, for example fraud/swindle. It is common that many forms of violence occur at the same time.
Regardless of gender, anyone can be a victim of violence. However, more often it is women who are victims of repetitive and severe violence and sexual abuse from their intimate partner, than men are.
Some individuals are especially vulnerable to violence in close relationships. Factors that can influence this vulnerability include gender, age, degree of physical functioning, sexual orientation, socio-economic background, being pregnant, being a migrant and alcohol and drug abuse.
We know that it can be difficult to leave a violent relationship. The cycle of violence is often not broken without outside help.
You need help and you must talk to someone if you have been physically injured, threatened or if you are afraid of being subjected to violence, or if you are wondering if the actions you have been exposed to are violence. Here, you will find a summary of the help that is available. If you are being subjected to severe violence or threats and if you are afraid that your life is in danger, you must contact the police (politiet).Call this telephone number 02800 or the emergency number 112. If a child or adolescent is in danger you must also notify the Child Welfare Service (barnevernet).
For many victims of violence the most important thing is that the violence stops and not that the perpetrator is punished, the assistance services offers help to both the victim and the perpetrator. Some victims however need assistance in obtaining necessary protection. If you are threatened or subjected to violence the police (politiet) will consider if necessary protective measures are needed. These measures can include an emergency panic alarm, restraining order, or secret address.
Crisis shelters (krisesenter) can provide protection in an emergency or acute situation, and help many victims in breaking out of an abusive relationship. Both crisis shelters and the police provide information and guidance and can assist in establishing contact between victims and perpetrators with medical and social services (helse- og sosialetaten), family counselling services (familievernkontor), child welfare services (barnevern), crisis shelters (krisesenter) treatment and assistance, legal assistance, lawyers, counselling services for victims of crime (rådgivningskontor for kriminalitetsofre) or other assistance services one can turn for help.
When the person who is abusing you is someone close to you, it is often difficult to report the abuse to the police. Many abuse victims are not able to report the abuse even though there might be several good reasons for doing so. To lessen the burden and relieve the victim from the responsibility of reporting the abuse, the police have the authority to work independently and carry out their own investigation in cases of severe abuse. They can carry out an investigation independent of if the victim wants this or not. This is known as public prosecution.
Sexual assault has many forms, and perhaps you are wondering if what happened to you was sexual assault?
Sexual assault is any form of violating sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act that is non-consensual and includes sexual touching, fondling, giving/receiving oral sex, masturbation, intercourse, other intercourse-like acts, rape, and other non-physical acts or attempts to carry out such acts such as unwanted sexual talk, indecent exposure/flashing, photographing, filming, voyeurism and displaying pornographic material.
Sexual assault or sexual abuse is any involuntary sexual act where a person is forced or pressured to do something against their will, and without first giving their consent or when the victim is not able to give their consent. The assault can be where the victim is tricked, forced or threatened to carry out sexual acts with another person or persons, that the victim is forced to watch other people engage in sexual acts or that the victim is forced to engage in sexual acts with them self while others watch or are present. Anyone can be sexually abused regardless of gender, age, and it is always defined as an assault regardless if the victim was sober, under the influence of alcohol or drugs or asleep.
Rape and other sexual assault can happen in either a close intimate relationship or in acquaintance type relationships or amongst strangers.
Even though you might be uncertain as to whether or not you have been subjected to sexual abuse, you can always contact the assistance services. You should also talk to someone close to you about what happened. This can help you put into words the incident, your thoughts and feelings. It’s also helpful to get support and guidance from those close to you. Perhaps you are uncertain whether or not you want to file a police report? In Norway you have the right to three hours of free advice and assistance from a lawyer, where you do not have to commit to anything before you decide whether or not you wish to file a police report concerning the sexual assault.
Contact your general practitioner, GP, (fastlegen) or school nurse (helsesøster) a sexual assault center (overgrepsmottak), a Support Center for Survivors of Incest and Sexual Assault (SMISO), DIXI Resource Center against Sexual Assault (DIXI) or the police (politiet) to get help in understanding what has happened to you, and to start psychologically processing your experience(s), and should you decide to do so, file a police report.
Are you easily startled and frightened? Do you wonder if what happened to you was really your fault? Are you ashamed to even think about what happened? Do you find it difficult to concentrate on both small and large tasks?
These are all common reactions after having been exposed to violence, regardless of whether it was a single incident or repeated episodes of violence.
Even though there is not one single set way of reacting, we do know a great deal about how people who have experienced violence feel and react, both on the short and long term, after a single incident and repeated episodes. Some reactions include:
- anxiety and fear
- re-experiencing the traumatic event(s)
- trouble sleeping
- self-blame and feelings of guilt
- trouble concentrating and memory problems
- increased irritation and anger
- physical ailments
- problems with interactions
- difficulties with intimacy and sexuality
- increased need of control
- feeling emotionally numb
- being suspicious
- trivializing what happened and feeling doubtful about what actually took place
- acting out
- loneliness, feeling that you are completely alone
Sometimes these feelings and reactions don’t simply go away by themselves, even if the incident occurred a long time ago. For some individuals these reactions can develop into a clinical diagnosis or diagnoses such as depression, anxiety, eating disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and/or alcohol and drug abuse.
If these feelings and reactions are continuing to bother you, it is important that you talk to someone or seek professional help, to help you deal with what has happened. Talk to your general practitioner, GP, (fastlegen) or school nurse (helsesøster), the sexual assault center closest to you (overgrepsmottak), shelter (krisesenter), or DIXI Resource Center against Sexual Assault (DIXI). Your general practitioner can refer you to a psychologist if needed.
More people should notify or report violence and threats and report this when they are aware of someone else being subjected to violence and threatening behavior. Your input can be the last missing piece that is needed for the police or assistance services to recognize a pattern of cyclical/repetitive violence.
If you believe that someone you know is being exposed to violence contact the police (politiet) by calling telephone number 02800. Anyone notifying the police has the right to remain anonymous.
It is just as serious for a child to live and witness violence occurring at home as it would to be if the child was directly subjected to the abuse. It is an extremely damaging situation for a child to experience violence within their family and can leave this child with permanent psychological scars. If you are concerned about a child – or children – you can also call the emergency telephone for children and adolescents; (alarmtelefonen for barn og unge), 116 111, notify your local child welfare service (barnevernet) or notify the police (politiet) directly, by calling 02800 or the emergency number 112.
Are you short-tempered and frightening others, hit, kick or threaten others, humiliate, violate or control others; you are exhibiting abusive and violent behavior.
Fortunately, there is help for you to change. Violent and aggressive individuals also need help. If you are able to admit that you have a problem with aggression and violence, then you are one step closer to a solution.
Even if you are uncertain as to whether or not your behavior is violent, you can nonetheless contact the assistance services (hjelpeapparatet). You should talk to someone about what has happened. Talking to someone helps you put into words your actions and feelings. It can also help you from repeating a new episode of violence.