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Domestic violence / abuse



Many people live daily with violence, threats and violations. Violence is something more than physical blows and kicks. Anger problems can be one of the causes of violent behavior, although there are also a number of other causes behind the violence.


Photo: by Gabriel Benois on Unsplash

Important to know about violence

A report for the Norwegian Government, "Report to the Government 15 (2012-2013): Prevention and combating violence in close relationships", defines violence like this:

Violence is any act directed at another person which, through this act, injures, hurts, frightens or offends, causes that person to do something against his will or stops doing something he wants. - Per Isdal.

Violence is often associated with physical acts, but can also be psychological, material, sexual and latent. Violence is thus various acts that have in common that they injure, hurt, frighten or offend another person.

  • Source: [ATV, 2021][1]


Different types of domestic violence

Violence has many expressions. Psychologist Per Isdal operates with five different types of domestic violence:


  1. Physical violence. Physical violence is acts that cause physical injury or pain, but also acts that physically hinder the other's freedom of movement. Examples of physical violence are: hitting, kicking, beating, strangling, shaking, pinching, scratching, biting, lugging, twisting the arm, holding and pushing. Physical violence is very frightening and can in its extreme consequence lead to death.

  2. Psychological violence is any way of harming, intimidating or offending that is not directly physical in nature. There can also be ways to control or dominate others, using an underlying power or threat. There may be direct or indirect threats, degrading and humiliating behavior, control, extravagant jealousy, isolation and emotional violence.

  3. Material violence is acts directed at objects or inventory. Examples of material violence are: Hitting and kicking furniture, walls, doors, hitting the table, throwing and destroying objects. Material violence is frightening in itself, and if physical violence has been used before, the material violence can be very paralyzing for those who are exposed to the violence. The fear of being exposed to physical violence is increasing. Material violence is not an alternative to physical violence!

  4. Sexualized violence is acts directed at another person's sexuality. Examples of sexual violence are: Sexual harassment, pressuring and forcing the other to sexual acts, rape, sexualized torture. Sexualized violence affects our most private and vulnerable side and destroys sexuality in a relationship. Those who commit various forms of violence in a relationship can sometimes think that they repair the pain and apologize for having sex, while those who are exposed to violence may find that it is too unsafe to say no and that intercourse then becomes an abuse.

  5. Latent violence: While the perpetrator of violence (physical, material, sexual) experiences the violence as isolated incidents, those who are exposed tell that the violence is with them all the time, by virtue of its possibility. Latent violence can easily develop into the dominant form of violence for those who are exposed. The risk of new violence will be able to control much of what the victim does and the behavior will be strategic in order to avoid new violence. The latent violence is not only our conscious expectations of new violence - the body also remembers previous violence and automatic reactions can put the body on alert at the slightest sign of danger of new violence.

  • Source: [ATV, 2021]



Different forms of help


  1. Psychotherapy




    Psychotherapy / treatment is a process characterized by a time-limited contact between a therapist and a patient / client, in which specific problems are thematized and worked with. Include different therapeutic traditions (for example cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), psychodynamic therapy, family therapy, and more)

    A useful source that evaluate the effectiveness of specific therapies for different mental health problems is the website to the Cochrane Institute [Cochrane Institute][2] .


  2. Online therapy




    Online therapy is similar to traditional therapy or treatment, but is provided by digital means (either phone, video conference, or similar). Digital interventions can include a broader range of options, such as therapist-guided self-help programs online.

    The current research literature provide strong support for the adoption of online psychological interventions as a legitimate therapeutic activity [Barak et al., 2008][3] .


  3. Support / self-help groups




    Support / self-help groups can take a variety of forms, from providing a safe and supportive social environment; more or less structured group meetings; information and guidance relating to how to use available help services; and a lot more.

    While it is difficult to know the effectiveness of such services, due to very different compositions of support and self-help services, the research generally show the self-help groups may have important benefits for the participants [Kurouz et al., 2002][4] .


  4. Helplines and chats




    Different helplines and chats exist. Some helplines are specialized in providing you with information and guidance, while others are more specialized in providing emotional support. Some helplines are highly professional, while others are more based on voluntary workers, that merely wish to be a caring listener.

    It is difficult to evalute how effective such services are, and it probably depends on many factors. For example, while the state of the science regarding the effectiveness of crisis response services remains limited, overall results provide support for such services [Hoffberg et al, 2020][5] .


  5. Online communities and forums




    Online communities and forums are options to get in contact with other individuals that struggle with something similar to you or someone you know. Some communities are moderated by professional health workers, while most of them are not.

    Online communities is traditionally not understood as a support or health service, but rather a social area - that may have the potential of being supportive for the individual that uses it. Importantly, research has shown that "people with serious mental illness report benefits from interacting with peers online from greater social connectedness, feelings of group belonging and by sharing personal stories and strategies for coping with day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness. Within online communities, individuals with serious mental illness could challenge stigma through personal empowerment and providing hope. By learning from peers online, these individuals may gain insight about important health care decisions, which could promote mental health care seeking behaviours" [Naslund et al., 2016][6] .

    This seems to indicate that online communites should not be underevaluated as a potential resource to recovery, coping and enhanced quality of life for people affected by mental health problems.



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References & Footnotes
  1. ATV, 2021: Alternativ til vold (ATV-stiftelsen) (2021). Hva er vold? [What is domestic violence?]. Retrieved 10th of February 2021 from
  2. Cochrane Institute: Cochrane Institute: "Trusted evidence. Informed decisions. Better health." Retrieved 9th of February 2020 from:
  3. Barak et al., 2008: Barak, A., Hen, L., Boniel-Nissim, M., & Shapira, N. A. (2008). A comprehensive review and a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of internet-based psychotherapeutic interventions. Journal of Technology in Human services26(2-4), 109-160.
  4. Kurouz et al., 2002: Kyrouz, E. M., Humphreys, K., & Loomis, C. (2002). A review of research on the effectiveness of self-help mutual aid groups. British Journal of Clinical Psychology33, 198-200.
  5. Hoffberg et al, 2020: Hoffberg, A. S., Stearns-Yoder, K. A., & Brenner, L. A. (2020). The effectiveness of crisis line services: A systematic review. Frontiers in public health7, 399.
  6. Naslund et al., 2016: Naslund, J. A., Aschbrenner, K. A., Marsch, L. A., & Bartels, S. J. (2016). The future of mental health care: peer-to-peer support and social media. Epidemiology and psychiatric sciences25(2), 113-122.