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Offences in intimate relationships

During 2014, approximately 17,100 assault offences were reported in Sweden in which the perpetrator was in an intimate relationship with the victim. In the Swedish Crime Survey, 16 per cent of those who were exposed to assault state that the perpetrator was closely related.

Relationship to the perpetrator

Relationship to the perpetrator in conjunction with assault, 2014. Incidents as a percentage of the total number of incidents, based on gender. Source: NTU

In the Swedish Crime Survey (Nationella trygghetsundersökningen) (NTU), a total of 16 per cent of those exposed to assault in 2014 stated that the perpetrator was closely related to the victim. The intimate relationship of the perpetrator was a factor for women in 37 per cent of the incidents, while the corresponding percentage for men is only 3 per cent. It is difficult to discern any clear trends over a longer time for both men and women.

In Brå's national survey of offences in intimate relationships (2014), 6.8 per cent of the population stated that they were exposed to an offence in an intimate relationship during 2012. The percentage of women who were exposed to an offence in an intimate relationship during 2012 was, essentially, the same as the percentage of exposed men (7.0 per cent of the women and 6.7 per cent of the men). However, when one looks at exposure to offences in intimate relationships throughout the course of one's life, a greater percentage of women have stated that they have been exposed; slightly more than 25 per cent of all women and slightly less than 17 per cent of all men in the population.

Exposure during 2012 also breaks down evenly between the genders when one looks at psychological violence and physical violence separately; 6.8 per cent of the women and 6.2 per cent of the men were exposed to psychological violence, while 2.2 per cent of the women and 2.0 per cent of the men were exposed to physical violence.

The two most common types of offence are systematic violations of integrity and attempts to restrict liberty. Some were exposed to both physical and psychological violence within the relationship. Of those exposed to physical violence during 2012, almost 85 per cent were also exposed to psychological violence, while slightly less than 28 per cent of those who are exposed to psychological violence were also exposed to physical violence.

More common for women to be exposed to aggravated violence

Although exposure during 2012 appears to be broken down evenly between women and men, it is more common for women to be exposed to aggravated violence which leads to a need for help and support, above all medical care. Among those persons who were exposed to aggravated assault, 29.1 per cent of the women and 2.4 per cent of the men stated that they visited, or needed to visit, a doctor, nurse, or dentist.

The background factors which appear to be most relevant are age, family relationship, education, type of residence, and financial circumstances. Exposure is highest among persons who are 16 – 34 years of age, single parents, persons whose highest level of education is upper secondary education, and persons living in multiple dwelling blocks. The financial conditions of exposed women are often worse than those of women who have not been exposed. There does not appear to be any clear differences in exposure between persons born in Sweden and persons born abroad.

Almost half of the persons exposed to psychological violence during 2012 stated that the violence was recurring during the year. Women state that they have been exposed to recurring psychological violence to a higher extent (56 per cent of the exposed women as compared with 40 per cent of the exposed men).

The majority do not file a police report

Of those who were exposed to an offence in an intimate relationship during 2012, 3.9 per cent stated that they reported the incident or some of the incidents to the police. The percentage of women who reported was somewhat higher than the percentage of men. According to the survey, the most common reason by far for not reporting to the police was that the person considered the incident to be minor. The choice to sort the incident out privately was also stated as a reason.

Crime scene

Type of crime scene for assault, 2014. Percentage of the total number of reported incidents by location. Source: NTU

The most common type of crime scene for assault is a public place. This is followed by work/school. It is least common for an assault offence to have taken place in the residence of the victim, the perpetrator, or another party, as well as in another place. However, the differences are great between the genders. Exposed women state, to a significantly higher degree than exposed men, that they were exposed to assault in a residence (36% as compared with 6%). When men are exposed to assault, the crime scene is a public place in more than half of the cases (62%) while the corresponding percentage for women is one-third (33%). Workplaces and schools are more or less equally common crime scenes for men and women (23% and 26%, respectively).

Reported offences

Number of reported assault offences in intimate relationships with the victim (against women 18 years of age and older and against men 18 years of age and older), as well as reported offences for aggravated violations of integrity and aggravated violations of a woman's integrity. Source: Reported offences

Facts about violence in intimate relationships

  • Slightly more than one in five persons in the population have been exposed to an offence in an intimate relationship sometime in their lives. (Brå 2014).
  • 6.8 per cent of the population state that they were exposed to an offence in an intimate relationship during 2012. (Brå 2014)
  • 16 per cent of those who were exposed to assault state that the perpetrator was a closely-related person. (NTU).
  • An intimate relationship is one where a person has, or has had, a partnership relationship with a girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband, regardless of whether the couple lives together.

Last update: 2016-02-29

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