Topic: Disasters, terror and stress management

But what are they actually meant for?” The Utøya Survivors’ Experiences with the State Compensation Scheme

Nilsen, L. G., Langballe, Å., & Dyb, G. (2016). "Men hva er det egentlig ment for?" Voldsoffererstatning til de overlevende etter terrorangrepet på Utøya 22. juli 2011 [But what are they actually meant for?" The Utøya Survivors’ Experiences with the State Compensation Scheme ] Norwegian only. Oslo: Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress. (Rapport 2/2016).

The aim of the report, “But what are they actually meant for?”, was to investigate how the survivors of the terror attack on Utøya, July 22nd 2011, experienced receiving state compensation for victims of violent crimes, more specifically how they experienced receiving damages for violence.

For this report we have investigated how the survivors from Utøya understand the Norwegian compensation scheme, as well as what it has meant for them to receive the compensation. The report builds upon data material from 256 qualitative interviews with survivors from the terror attack at Utøya.

We found that receiving damages for violence had great significance for many of the survivors, both as a useful financial support, which eased their everyday lives in the period after the attack, but also as a symbolic act, which served to communicate something to them on behalf of the Norwegian state.

The investigation uncovered that the flexibility which is inherent in the compensation scheme was important because it enabled each recipient to spend the compensation in a manner which met their individual needs. At the same time, however, this flexibility also leaves the recipient with a significant responsibility, because it to some degree makes it up to each individual to interpret the underlying meaning of the compensation. This can be challenging, particularly for young recipients.

Clearer information about the purpose of the compensation scheme, including what the amount is meant to cover, would therefore have been beneficial for many of the survivors. At the same time as this information needs to be unambiguous and presented to all the offended, it could also be beneficial with some information that is customized to each recipient, responding to their individual questions. The latter is important when you have a large group of victims, which will have differing needs, as was the case after the Utøya terror attack.