The following are our definitions of violence and sexual abuse. You can also read about the normal reactions which can occur if you are the victim of any of these.

  • What is violence and abuse?

    Committing mental and physical violence against other people, such as:

    • Threats
    • Bullying
    • Harassment
    • Force
    • Isolation
    • Beating
    • Kicking
    • Pulling hair
    • Biting
    • Being tied up
    • Being attacked with various objects
    • Being slashed/stabbed with a knife
    • Attempted drowning
    • Forced marriage
    • Female genital mutilation (circumcision)

    All types of physical abuse also involve mental abuse. In our experience a bruised “soul” can be more painful than visible bruises. We know that domestic violence happens in all types of communities. Abuse affects children, young people, adults and old people. Regardless of their gender, age or ethnic background.

    ”Violence constitutes any action aimed at another person who, because such actions injure, frighten, cause pain or upset, causes that person do something against their will, or stop doing something that they want to.”

    – Per Isdal – ATV (Alternativ To Violence)

  • Reactions to violence and sexual abuse

    Not all victims of violence experience all of these reactions, but they all experience some of them. It is important to know that many of these reactions can be related to other traumas which have been experienced.

    Normal reactions after being exposed to mental and physical abuse could include the following:

    • Lack of energy
    • Fear
    • Inner turmoil
    • Chaos
    • Shock
    • Impaired memory
    • Reliving one’s experiences/flashbacks
    • Sense of shame
    • Sense of guilt
    • Feelings of hopelessness and inferiority
    • Bodily reactions
    • Suppression
    • Devoting too much energy to what has happened and denial
    • Lack of structure/impaired circadian rhythms
    • Nightmares
    • Feeling numb
    • Isolating oneself from others
    • Anxiety and depression
    • Problems with identifying one’s own needs
    • Problems with identifying the needs of one’s children
  • What is incest and sexual abuse?

    Sexual abuse
    Sexual abuse is when someone harasses or physically abuses someone else by engaging in sexual behaviour. This type of behaviour is performed in order to control and humiliate the other person. Children are subjected to sexual abuse when they are included in sexual activities they fail to understand the consequences of, and which they are far to immature to consent to. This occurs more often than previously thought and often causes damage to a child’s emotional development.

    Sexual abuse involves being deprived of control over one’s own body, own values and belief in one’s own feelings.

    Our definition of incest
    Incest involves physical or mental abuse of the sexual integrity of children and young people which is committed by someone they trust. Relationships of trust distinguish incest from other types of sexual abuse.

    Rape is a crime which impacts on several aspects of one’s personal freedom, integrity, morals and character. The crime of rape is a serious violation of one’s personal integrity, i.e. freedom and the opportunity to reject approaches of a sexual nature and making one’s own decisions about one’s own sexuality.

    Several types of rape
    Most rapes happen in relationships between couples. Some are so-called acquaintance rapes where the parties involved may have got to know each other over the course of an evening, while a small number are attack rapes committed by an unknown rapist. Assault rape involve a major additional element: the fear of going outside impacts on the quality of life of the victim.

    Youth rape is another type of rape. This type of abuse is typified by the fact that it occurs between young people of the same age who have previously known each other. They are often in the same gang, attend the same class at school or might even be boyfriends/girlfriends. Violence is not often used in such cases, but saying “no” is not respected. Sometimes alcohol or drugs are involved and in other cases we hear about involuntary intoxication.

    It is important to obtain quick, professional help. We work in conjunction with the Assault Centre at the A&E in Oslo.

    Assault Centre at the A&E in Oslo:
    Tel.: +47 23 48 70 90. For further information please visit Legevakten Oslo.

    If you live in the municipality of Vestby you can contact the Assault Centre in Fredrikstad:
    Tel.: +47 116117. For further information please visit Overgrepsmottaket i Østfold.


  • Reactions to violence and sexual abuse

    Normal reactions which could occur in adolescents and adults who are the victims of incest and sexual abuse during their childhood/adulthood.

    Not all victims experience all of these reactions, but they all experience some of them. It is important to know that many of these reactions can be related to other traumas which have been experienced.


    Common reactions might include the following:

    • Sense of guilt
    • Sense of shame
    • Negative self-image
    • Low self-esteem
    • Disgust towards one’s own body
    • Eating disorders
    • Anxiety/depression
    • Feeling different
    • Putting on a “mask”
    • Difficulties relating to other people (trust-issues)
    • Difficulties with concentration
    • Body pains
    • Struggling with nausea
    • Self-harm
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Problems with intimacy and sexuality
    • Impaired memory
    • Flashbacks (reliving the incident, involuntary recurrent memories or nightmares)
    • Regression – regressed emotional development
    • Emotional problems relating to pregnancy and birth
    • Increased need for control
    • Self-sabotage


    Other reactions:     

    • Gambling addiction
    • Substance abuse
    • Prostitution
    • Problems with setting one’s own boundaries
    • Problems with setting boundaries for one’s own children
    • Numerous sexual partners
    • Unable to get on in life (work, school, relationships, etc.)
    • Escapism (retreating into activities which enable one to stop thinking about it)
  • Signs displayed by children and young people

    Symptoms and signs displayed by abused children might include the following:

    • Talking about abuse in plain language
    • Making hints or giving double messages
    • Expressing themselves through drawings or written work at school which has a sexual content
    • Changes in body language and behaviour. Showing signs of unhappiness

    It is important to be aware that many of the signs and symptoms mentioned here could also be signs of other traumatic experiences. It is also important to know that not all child victims display these symptoms, but they all display some of them


    Becoming introverted:

    • Anxiety
    • Insomnia (nightmares)
    • Sense of guilt
    • Sense of shame
    • Becoming introverted, isolating themselves
    • Appearing sad, thoughtful
    • Body pains
    • Eating disorders
    • Self-harm
    • Pretending that nothing has happened
    • “Good girl/boy”
    • Extroverted behaviour
    • Sexualised behaviour and language
    • Anger
    • Restlessness (hyperactivity)
    • Cause conflicts
    • Harming people and animals
    • Criminal behaviour
    • Extreme need to seek contact – or the opposite

    Other reactions:

    • Tired and under the weather
    • Impaired concentration
    • Unpredictable, distant
    • Intense masturbation
    • Regressive behaviour – (when a child’s natural development stops or regresses)
    • Talking “baby language”
    • Talking “grown-up language” – inadequate (not the natural choice of words for a child)
    • The child does not want to go home
    • Impression that the child is hiding a huge secret
    • One has the feeling that something is serious without being able to put one’s finger on what it might be


    There are rarely any physical signs of sexual abuse, but physical signs could include the following:

    • Bruises on the face, thighs and hips
    • Walking problems
    • Incontinence
    • Itching genitals
    • Venereal diseases, discharge
    • Blood in the knickers/underpants (before puberty)
    • Soreness in the groin