In Sweden and in other countries, it has become increasingly common to view violence from a public health perspective. This chapter presents a description of interpersonal violence with an emphasis on violence in close relations, particularly in partner relationships. According to the Swedish Crime Survey 2010, approximately one in ten inhabitants was exposed to violence, threats or harassment of some kind in 2009. Young people and single mothers with small children are particularly vulnerable to violence. According to Statistics Sweden's ULF surveys (Survey on Living Conditions) for 2004-2005, 17 per cent of men and 12 per cent of women aged 16-24 years reported having been subjected to violence or serious threats at some time in the previous 12 months. Boys and men are more frequently subjected to lethal violence and to violence resulting in hospitalisation than girls and women. Similarly, men also make up a majority of the victims of assaults reported to the police. On the other hand, domestic violence and work-related violence more often involve women than men, and sexual violence is chiefly directed at girls and women. Most women and children who are subjected to assault are acquainted with the perpetrator, while this only applies to a minority of male victims. Women are four to five times as likely to be killed by a partner as men. Partner assaults against women, rapes, and gross violations of a woman's integrity account for a fifth of all reported crimes of violence (against women and men combined). Violence in partner relationships has significant consequences for physical and mental health; between 12,000 and 14,000 women seek outpatient care each year as a result of violence committed by a partner. Violence can also have serious social repercussions: isolation, financial difficulties, sick leave from work, unemployment, etc., and women subjected to this form of violence can be prevented from seeking medical or other assistance. Children are often involved. Approximately 10 per cent of all children have experienced violence in the home and 5 per cent have experienced it frequently. Many children who witness violence are also beaten themselves. In 2006, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare estimated the annual socioeconomic cost of violence against women to be between SEK 2.7 and 3.3 billion, SEK 38 million of which were direct medical costs. Factors affecting the risk of violence in partner relationships are related both to the social structure and individual character of the perpetrator. Trends in violence have moved in different directions. Today, more people in all age groups, with the exception of the most elderly (aged 65-84), report that they have been exposed to threats or violence than in the 1980s. In recent years, however, the increase has halted; there has even been a decline among young people aged 16-24. Crimes of violence reported to the police are growing in number, and the number of reports of work-related violence, for example, has more than doubled since the mid 1970s. The number of rapes reported to the police has also risen significantly in recent year, and the victims are on average becoming younger. Furthermore, rape and gross violation of a woman's integrity (combined) are now almost as common as robbery. This increase is probably due to a combination of greater willingness to report crimes, a lower tolerance threshold for violence, legislative changes and an increase in the number of violent acts committed. The rise in violence represented by crime statistics is not reflected in the proportion of people who have suffered serious physical injuries as a result of violence. Over the past ten years, the number of deaths resulting from violence has declined among women and men. Hospital statistics also show that although the percentage of people receiving treatment has remained relatively stable, more people are now seeking hospital treatment following a sexual assault.
SAGE Publications (UK and US) , 2012. Vol. 40, no 9, 229-254 p.