Topic: Violence and abuse

A week of violence 2017

Hjemdal, O. K., & Danielsen, E. M. (2017). En uke med vold: Justis- og beredskapsdepartementets voldsmåling 2017 [A week of violence 2017] Norwegian only. (Rapport 7/2017).

"A week of violence" provides an indicator of how many cases and what types of violence support services face over a given week.

The project “A week of violence 2017” was conducted by the Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies (NKVTS) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. Its purpose was to provide an insight into the support services’ work on matters regarding violence in close relationships. Agencies participating in the survey have themselves registered cases they have been working on in one particular week. “A week of violence” is not a measurement of the occurrence of violence in close relationships in Norway, but provides an indicator of how many cases and what types of violence support services face over a given week.

The measurement is the fifth of its kind, and previous surveys have been conducted in 2012, 2008, 2005 and 2003. By conducting the survey repeatedly, we may compare the findings in 2017 with previous measurements and say something about development over time. In 2012, data collection was for the first time conducted electronically, as opposed to previous years when questionnaires were answered on paper and returned by mail. The survey has been conducted electronically this year as well, which provides a good basis for comparing this year’s results with those from 2012.

In this year’s survey, all the country’s shelters, centers against incest and sexual assault, assault centers for people exposed to sexual abuse, Protective services for the elderly, Service for victims of crime, Children’s houses, police districts, family counseling offices, child protection services and social services (NAV) were invited to participate. That the Children’s houses and the centers against incest and sexual assault were invited is new this year, otherwise the invited institutions are the same as in the measurement in 2012.

Of the 917 invited agencies, 300 respondents in the survey registered cases or declared that they did not have such cases during that specific week. Of the 300 instances, 203 agencies registered cases of violence in close relationships, while 97 reported that they had no such cases. A total of 2545 cases were registered by these 203 instances. This is an increase of 19.6 percent from 2012, when 2128 cases were registered.

Changes observed in the “A week of violence”-surveys must first and foremost be understood as changes in the support system’s work with, and attention to, violence in close relationships. The living conditions survey of Statistics Norway raises the question of violence in the population, and suggests that the share of people subjected to violence has remained stable in the last 30 years, with a possible decrease over the last years[1]. NKVTS has previously conducted a survey of violence and rape in Norway (Thoresen and Hjemdal, 2014). Here it was found that approximately 17 percent of both genders have been exposed to at least one physical act of violence from a partner during their lives. When it comes to violence with high physical injury potential, 9.3 percent of women and 1.9 percent of men had been exposed to this during their lives. Although there is always some uncertainty about figures in large population surveys, this type of study is far better suited to say something about the occurrence of violence in close relationships. This survey, however, is suited to say something about how things are done by the assistance agencies. We have received information about who it is that contacts support services, and how the contact is established. We also get an insight into referrals between instances.

“A week of violence” also reveals in which parts of the support services violence is a topical issue. The survey is at the same time raising awareness among agencies working with violence in close relationships. Although there are large variations in the average number of registered cases per agency, we see that there are cases involving violence in close relationships in all of the invited agency types.

Summary of results

The response rate in this year’s measurement is 34.5 percent. This is higher than in the measurement in 2012, when it was 28 percent, but lower than in the previous measurements. However, the number of registered cases is higher than ever. As in 2012, the response rate is lowest among social services and child protection services. For social services it has, nevertheless, tripled since 2012.

Each of the participating agencies has recorded a total of 8.02 cases on average. This is a slight increase from 7.74 cases in 2012. In this year’s survey, many of the services have participated despite not having worked with violence, by answering “no” to the question of whether they have had such cases. This has led to an increased response rate, but at the same time it reduces the average of the number of cases per participant.

The child protection services have registered most cases in this year’s survey, followed by shelters and family counseling offices. Looking at the number of cases per instance, police districts have registered most cases per instance that participated in the survey, followed by Children’s houses and shelters.

Health Region West has, as in 2012, registered fewer cases than expected given the size of the population base. Health Region South-East has registered more cases than expected given the size of its population base. However, the cases are somewhat more evenly distributed between health regions than they were in 2012.

The cases are usually created when the instance is contacted by another professional service. This is the case in 42 percent of the registered cases. This is quite similar to 2012, but an increase from 2008. In the same period, the number of cases created on the basis of contact from the victim has decreased from 55 percent to 30 percent in this year’s survey.

Compared with the measurement in 2012, there has been an increase in the number of cases where there has been contact with other agencies. In 85 percent of the cases, the exposed had been in contact with at least one other service.

The proportion of cases where the victim is male has been steadily increasing in the last measurements. The increase of men has been greatest in the younger age groups, which can be seen in relation to increased participation from child protection services and in this year’s measurement also the Children’s houses. Also for men over the age of 25 there has been an increase, which may indicate increased awareness of the fact that men can also be subjected to violence in close relationships. Nevertheless, there is a clear majority of women among the exposed.

In cases involving women, psychological violence was the most frequent cause of contact with support services, closely followed by physical violence. For men, physical violence was the most common cause of contact. In 24 percent of the cases, sexual violence was the cause of contact, which is a clear increase from 2012. In more than half of the cases, the victim had experienced at least two forms of violence. For female victims, this was the case for more than two thirds.

Among children exposed to violence in close relationships, there are approximately as many boys as girls. Physical violence was the most common type of violence the children had been exposed to, followed by psychological violence. More than half of the children had been exposed to at least two different forms of violence. Parents and stepparents account for 80 percent of abusers in cases involving children exposed to violence.