Violence and abuse

Violence can involve many different types of acts, including those that are physical, sexual and psychological in nature. Violence and abuse can cause harm in both the short and long term. All forms violence and abuse are illegal.

Woman with hands in front of her face

In case of immediate risk, call the police on 112

Are you or others at immediate risk? Then call the police emergency number 112.

What is violence?

Violence can be physical, sexual or psychological. Neglect is also considered a form of violence.

Violence can happen in all kinds of situations where people come together: at home, at school, at work, in a taxi queue or on the street. Violence can occur between strangers, between acquaintances or in the workplace.

Both men and women can be the victims of violence, but there are differences in the types of violence they are subjected to. Men tend to be the victims of physical violence outside of close relationships more often than women. Women tend to be the victims of violence perpetuated by a serious intimate partner and sexual assault more often than men.

Violence can occur at any time in life. Those who are subjected to violence as children are more likely to be subjected to violence as adults (often referred to as ‘revictimisation’). Many elderly people are also subjected to violence, and violence against the elderly often occurs in close relationships.

The causes of violence and abuse are complex, but the evidence suggests that financial problems, living conditions, disabilities and substance abuse problems may increase the risk.

Domestic violence

Violence that takes place between family members, partners or other close relations is known as domestic violence. Domestic violence can be particularly complicated because the abuser is an important person in the victim’s life. It can also be more difficult to escape the violence. Domestic violence often means that the victim is not safe in their own home.

Psychological violence – Where to begin when you need help? (dinutvei.no)

Physical violence

Physical violence is the use of physical force to harm or control another person. It can include punching, kicking, choking, throwing objects at the other person, burning them with a cigarette or a variety of other actions. Threatening someone with a weapon can also be seen as an act of physical violence.

Corporal punishment during childhood is prohibited in Norway and is considered a form of physical violence against children.

Sexual violence

Sexual violence includes all forms of coercion into sexual acts. It includes rape, where a person is forced into sexual activity, such as sexual intercourse, but also other forms of sexual assault or offence, such as groping. Rape and other forms of sexual assault can occur in many different types of relationship, including between partners.

Child abuse does not have to involve coercion in order for it to be considered sexual violence. When an adult uses the power of their age to engage in sexual relations with a child, it is always considered abuse. Children can also subject other children to abuse.

Sexual harassment online, such as sharing nude photos of someone else without that person's consent, is also a form of sexual violence.

The helpline for victims of sexual abuse – 800 57 000 (dinutvei.no)

Psychological violence

Psychological violence can take many forms and can be difficult to put into words. Control, manipulation and constant criticism are some common characteristics. Often, psychological violence has a pattern, where over time one person makes the other feel worthless or in danger.

Psychological violence often occurs in close relationships, such as parental psychological violence against children, or a spouse's psychological violence against their partner. We normally talk about psychological violence in close relationships, but bullying can also be seen as a form of psychological violence.

Psychological violence – Where to begin when you need help? (dinutvei.no)

Neglect

Neglect is where a person’s basic needs are not met. This is a form of violence that can be found in relationships where one person is responsible for another person – for example, parents caring for their children, adult children caring for their ageing parents, or an institution responsible for a person with a disability.

Basic needs can be physical (such as food, clean clothing, physical security, or medication) or psychological.

Negative social control

Various forms of invasive or negative social control can be seen as violence, threats or coercion. The aim of this type of control may be to ensure that individuals conform to family or group norms, such as honour-related violence, forced marriage and female genital mutilation.

Read more about negative social control and where to get help (dinutvei.no, in Norwegian)

How does violence affect health?

Violence can harm the health of the victim in many different ways. It is important to point out that not all victims of violence struggle with their health, and that some people are able to cope well. Nevertheless, violence increases the risk of many physical and mental health problems.

Violence and physical health

Direct consequences of violence can be physical injuries, such as broken ribs, bruises, wounds or internal injuries.

More and more knowledge has recently emerged about the connection between exposure to violence and physical health. Common physical health problems, such as headaches, abdominal pain, nausea, dizziness and muscle pain, are more common in victims of violence than in people who have not been subjected to violence. Serious physical illnesses such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are also more common among victims of violence. Violence can thus have a very broad and wide-ranging impact on health.

Those who are subjected to violence both in childhood and adulthood have a higher risk of developing health problems than those who are subjected in either childhood or adulthood only. Experiencing many different types of violence also increases the risk of health problems.

Violence and mental health

Victims of violence are at greater risk of struggling with depression and anxiety. Long-term, serious violence, such as growing up with a very violent and controlling parent, can cause complex psychological damage. Victims of violence are also more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs. There is a strong link between violence and acts of self-harm, including attempted suicide.

Violence and abuse can lead to symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Symptoms can include reliving painful memories in an unpleasant way, avoiding situations that remind the person of the violence, and negative effects on mood, thoughts and stress.

Reporting violence or abuse

If you are a victim of violence or abuse, help is available. Talking about what you've experienced with someone you trust can make it easier to seek help.

If you become aware that someone is being subjected to violence or abuse, or is at risk of harm, there are ways you can help. In some cases, you may also have a statutory duty to prevent such harm.

You can take action to prevent domestic violence and sexual offences by reporting your concern to the police or to the child welfare services, or by helping the victim to safety, for example, at a crisis centre, hospital or other safe place. In many cases, it is possible to report or discuss your concern anonymously.

Support services for victims and relatives

Other support services and voluntary organisations

There are many different support services for victims of violence and abuse. The perpetrators of violence and abuse can also seek effective help.

VO-helpline – Norwegian Domestic Violence Helpline

116 006

24/7 service.

The chat facility is open 09:00-20:00 Monday to Friday.

A helpline for victims of domestic violence or abuse. The VO helpline listens to your concerns, answers questions, and provides advice and guidance. The service is free and completely anonymous.

Dinutvei.no

Search for and consult a listing of all the support services in your area, and find answers to your questions about different forms of violence and abuse. The information is provided in 13 languages.

The website Dinutvei.no also has information about support services for perpetrators of violence.

Preventing elder abuse – national helpline

800 30 196

Monday-Friday from 09:00 to 15:00

Persons over the age of 62 who are victims of physical or mental abuse can call the national helpline for protection of senior citizens (‘vern for eldre’) – on tel. 800 30 196 for advice, counselling and help.

Relatives and others concerned about elder abuse can also call.

TryggEst

TryggEst works to prevent, detect and take action against abuse of adults who are unable or less able to protect themselves.

The local authorities that have established the TryggEst programme have a dedicated team you can contact if you are concerned about an adult at risk of violence and abuse. The TryggEst team can also be contacted personally by an adult victim of violence or abuse.

Alternative to violence

22 40 11 10

Monday-Friday from 09:00 to 15:00

Alternative to violence (ATV) has a treatment programme for perpetrators of domestic violence, but also for adults and children at risk, and young people struggling with their own violence and aggression.

ATV can also be contacted for advice and counselling.

Anger management

The Brøset Anger Management Programme is a help and therapy programme aimed at the perpetrators of domestic violence. Some of the centres also offer supportive treatment for young people struggling with violence and anger.

LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence?

The KUN Centre for Equality and Diversity has published a brochure on intimate partner violence in the LGBTQ+ community. This provides information about domestic abuse and intimate partner violence and contact details for services that can help.

Support centre for victims of crime

800 40 008

Have you been the victim of violence, sexual assault or violations of your personal freedom? Get help and guidance at a support centre for victims of crime. The support centres can help you with:

  • information and advice on reporting crime
  • support all the way from filing a police report until the case has been settled
  • witness support before, during and after any court case
  • assistance in seeking victim compensation

Helpline for victims of sexual abuse

800 57 000

24/7 helpline for victims of incest and sexual abuse and their relatives.

Nok. Support centres for victims of incest and sexual abuse

The Nok. centres supplement public-sector services by providing advice, support and counselling for victims of sexual abuse and their relatives.

Content provided by Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress

Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress. Violence and abuse. [Internet]. Oslo: The Norwegian Directorate of Health; updated Monday, September 5, 2022 [retrieved Sunday, March 3, 2024]. Available from: https://www.helsenorge.no/en/psykisk-helse/violence-and-abuse/

Last updated Monday, September 5, 2022