New methods against intimate partner violence among young people

Efforts to combat intimate partner violence are often aimed at adults, but the Danish project “Violent love” instead targeted young people. Susanne Nour Magnusson is the head of the treatment and competence centre Dialog mod vold, which managed the project. The results will be presented at the ICMEO conference on men and equal opportunities.

What will you be doing at ICMEO?

“I will talk about our project during the workshop ‘Nordic work with violence prevention among young men including honour-related violence’. Within the project we have offered counselling and treatment for young people – not just men – between 16 and 24 years of age. We have also toured schools and music festivals and given workshops on intimate partner violence, as well as running social media campaigns.”

Can you really discuss violence at music festivals?

“Among adults, violence is completely taboo, and we must operate in very anonymous contexts when offering counselling. We were a bit worried that no one would talk to us at the festivals, but thankfully that was not an issue. These seems to be a greater openness among young people. We have had queues forming for our counselling.”

Why is it important to focus on violence among young people?

“It is important that we help people find ways to handle conflicts early in life. That is how we can prevent violence. We are talking about difficult issues: How do you maintain a healthy romantic relationship? How do you handle strong feelings of jealousy? What do you do if you cannot solve a conflict?”

What is important to succeed in combating violence among young people?

“We have focused on peer contact, which I think is very important. Our material has been produced in collaboration with young people, and the people working in the project as ambassadors and psychologists are also fairly young. This is important to ensure that our clients do not feel that the psychologist is living a completely different life. When it comes to information efforts, we have tried to emphasise that violence takes different shapes. For example, we had a campaign where we asked: Have you ever secretly checked your partner’s Facebook account? Have you ever broken anything belonging to your partner in anger? Have you broken your partner’s mobile phone? This is all part of intimate partner violence, but we do not always talk about it like that.”

What connections do you see between violence and gender norms?

“The norms for young men contribute to men using violence as a form of expression. It is also hard for men to condemn other men who, for example, make sexist comments. These group mechanisms must be examined more closely. It is also important to talk about violence committed by girls and young women. Half of the 16–24 year olds that we treated for being violent towards partners were girls. The most serious violent acts are committed by men, but if we pretend that violence is only a male issue, we will not be able to help these girls and they will not be able to formulate their problems.”

What positive effects do you hope the conference will have?

“The Nordic Ministers for Gender Equality will all be in attendance, and I hope that they see the important work that is being done. I hope that this will yield resources for continued work with the methods that have proven to be effective.”

Charlie Olofsson
Last updated: 6:20 - 09 May, 2018
  • EU
  • Gender equality
  • Violence