The project “A week to count” is carried out by the Norwegian Center for Violence and Traumatic Stress Studies commissioned by the Ministry of Justice and Public Security. The survey is intended to provide an overview of cases involving family violence that assistance agencies in Norway are working on a given week. This survey is the fourth of its kind. Previous surveys have been conducted in 2003, 2005 and 2008. The survey does not measure the incidence of family violence in Norway, but is a measure of the number of cases that assistance agencies face in the course of a given week. The results can therefore not be used to say anything the prevalence of family violence, but give us important indicators on the situation in the assistance services around the country that daily encounter challenges associated with family violence. Conducting the survey repeatedly enables us to compare figures with previous surveys and thus observe any trends and tendencies.
In previous surveys, the survey included a selection of the country’s child welfare and social services. In this year’s survey, we invited 972 services to participate in the violence survey. All shelters, police districts, family counseling offices, advisory offices for crime victims, abuse centers at emergency medical services, elder protection services, child protection services and social services (NAV).
Since this is a measure of the number of cases that assistance agencies are working on during the survey week, and not a measure of prevalence, numbers say more about the agencies’ work with these matters, than they say about changes in family violence. Statistics Norway’s living conditions research, where questions are posed about exposure to violence, suggests that the violence incidence has remained stable over the past 25 years. Any changes we refer to in this survey compared to previous surveys, must, therefore, be assumed to reflect changes in the work and attitudes towards this issue, rather than that the amount of violence has changed. This is an important measure that gives us indicators such as increased confidence in the agencies, changing attitudes to reporting violence, changes to the work on violence, and increased knowledge about family violence among the country’s authorities.
«A week to count “also highlights time and resources spent on working on family violence and helps illustrate where the most topical issues are.
Summary of results
Participation in the survey was voluntary and 275 of the 972 services chose to participate, giving a response rate of 28.3 percent. A very low response rate from NAV offices and a low response rate from the child welfare services are the main reason for the low response rate. 227 of the agencies reported that they had worked on cases involving family violence during the survey week, while 48 agencies reported that they had not had any such cases.
Despite the low response rate from child welfare services, the number of participating offices was higher than before. In 2008 45 child welfare offices participated while in this year’s survey 124 child welfare offices participated.
A total of 2128 cases involving family violence were recorded during the survey week. In 2008, the number of cases was 1357. If one compares the number of registered cases with the number of participating offices, there has been an increase since 2008. In the last survey on average 5.9 cases per office were reported. In this year’s survey average of 7.74 per office was registered. That’s an increase of 31 percent.
Police and shelters have registered the highest number of cases through the survey week. They also have the highest average number of cases per instance. NAV has registered fewest cases. This is the same result as in 2008. Health Region South has recorded far more cases than expected based on the population. At the same time Health Region West has recorded far fewer cases than expected. For the other health regions, the number of registered cases is largely consistent with the population base. This is the same pattern as in 2008.
Referrals of cases between authorities have greatly increased compared to the previous survey and referrals from other agencies are now the cause of registering of the largest proportion of cases. In 34 percent of the cases, the victim has contacted the authority him/herself while more than 41 percent of the cases are referred from another authority. In 2008 it was the victim that had contacted the service in a majority of the cases and only 22 percent of the cases were referred from another authority.
There has been an increase in the number of cases in which the victim is male. In this year’s survey the victim is a man/boy in nearly 25 percent of the registered cases. In 2008, this applied to 17 per cent of the cases. A higher number of cases involving boys aged 14 years or below is the cause of this increase. This should be seen in context with the increased proportion of participating child welfare offices.
Also the shelters have a higher proportion of cases in which the violence-prone is a male compared to previous surveys. In 2010, it was required by law that municipalities should have shelters also for men. This seems to have increased the proportion of men seeking help at shelters.