Researchers were as surprised as Norwegian government ministers, when new statistics released on Wednesday showed that 10 percent of all Norwegian women have been raped and only 11 percent of rape victims reported the crime. Men also are surprisingly frequent victims of domestic violence, according to the study.
Fully a third of rape victims interviewed said they had never talked about their rapes until the researchers called. “These are serious crimes, and only 11 percent reported them,” Siri Thoresen, a researcher at the national center studying violence and traumatic stress (NKVTS). “We think that’s very low.”
First major survey
The center carried out the first major survey in which researcher asked Norwegians, both women and men, directly whether they’d been victims of rape. Results of the survey were delivered Wednesday to Justice Minister Anders Anundsen, Health Minister Bent Høie and the government minister in charge of equality and inclusion issues, Solveig Horne.
The research results also show that as many men as women also have been victims of serious physical violence and domestic violence. Only 1.1 percent of all the men questioned said they’d been raped, however, compared to 9.4 percent of all the women questioned.
Half of the women said they’d been raped before the age of 18 and most knew their attacker. That apparently played a role in their reluctance to report the crime, which has long been viewed as likely to occur most frequently in party situations after excessive consumption of alcohol.
‘Public health problem’
The national center behind the study (Nasjonalt kunnskapssenter om vold og traumatisk stress) concluded that “violence is a public health problem.” They believe that doctors and health care services in general lack knowledge of how to deal with victims of violence or help them obtain support. Many doctors, the researchers claimed, hesitate to take up the issue with patients.
“I must say I’m surprised that the statistics for domestic violence haven’t declined, since we have had so many plans for addressing it,” Horne said. “We must dare to speak more about this tabu, and we politicians have a job to do in expanding offers of help.”
Anundsen, who like Horne is from the Progress Party (Fremskrittspartiet, Frp), agreed that the extent of domestic violence was alarming, adding that it was “very sad that many keep the attacks to themselves, and don’t seek help.” He worries that far too many victims fear they’ll be “standing alone” if they report their attacks. “In the world’s wealthiest country,” commented the head of Norway’s rape crisis center secretariat, “this is a shame.”