First response to domestic violence


What we want to do

To co-operate on diminishing the occurrence of domestic violence in the sparsely populated areas of the Nordic countries by developing an innovative and visionary training for people, who gets in contact with victims, perpetrators and witnesses.

A part of this training focuses on learning the helpers how to care for themselves så they can maintain the motivation to support the citizens to reestablish their dignity.

Project summary

Although Nordic citizens have access to mobile telephony and the Internet even in the remotest regions, there are men, women and children living in extreme isolation in the middle of their communities. One reason for this may be domestic violence.

Children and women who suffer from violence and abuse often keep it secret because they have experienced being distrusted, patronized or just not helped when they turn to an authority. Instead they find themselves exposed to the social judgments. Especially in the small communities the shame is enormous. Often the neighbors and family members know what is going on, but no one intervenes, because they do not know how. The shame is no less to the perpetrator.

There is a need for training for the people who get into contact with battered families, ensuring that with their attitude and language can hold and support the victims and witnesses as well as the perpetrator, and has the insight and courage to intervene in a way that is significant to stop the violence.

The project will teach the professionals and volunteers who meet the battered families how they can intervene in ways that make lasting changes and restore the dignity of the families suffering from domestic violence. The methods here are based on modern research and recent projects and include creating understanding of the dynamics behind the violence and the integration of appropriate, nonviolent ways of communicating. The training concept will be addressed at small communities and the training will be offered through our networks so it can be implemented widely in the Nordic countries.

Background/ motivation for the project

The project partners are deeply concerned about the occurrence of violence in families. It seems like even the legislation is clear, violence is still too many people’s reality, and the prize they pay are deeply devastated lives.

In this project, we use the terms ‘perpetrator’ as the person, who enacts a violent action and ‘victim’ as the one who is the target of the violent action. We don’t judge either of them to inherit any specific characteristics of personality. The words perpetrator and victim is clinically used to describe who is who in the violence equation.

We are worried about the main paradigm that seems to see violence as evil people doing harmful things to innocent people. The cure being to punish them by taking their freedom from them. Over the last 15 years, the sentences for domestic violence including child abuse has increased from  XXX to YYY months as an average. The occurrence of violence in the same period has increased ZZZ % . 

From restorative circles[1] we know that the victim is not restored from trauma by the sentence of her perpetrator.

We see violence not as some individuals’ problem but as a social problem. Nobody in the violence equation is happy about the violence (as it is not at all respectful for a man to beat his wife or children), but very often the people involved are stuck. Also the helping business are easily stuck as <…..>


Project description (including account of planned activities)

The training we offer is based on the methods called Nonviolent Communication (NVC, in Scandinavian: Ikkevoldelig Kommunikation)® evolved by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg, American Psychologist PhD. The methods have been proved to reduce violence and replace it with compassion in prisons, forensic psychiatric hospital units, in war zones, among street gangs and many other areas. In the end of this document, you’ll find links to some of the research and documentation that has been made. Until now, NVC has not been used systematically as a tool against domestic violence, though Norwegian Red Cross has included it as a tool in their policy


A few words on how it works:

Our approach has empowerment as one of the core values. Empowering the victims to trust their own experiences, acknowledge their responses to the violence and create awareness of how they can react in different ways that is more likely to provide peace and safety. And empowering the perpetrators to acknowledge their responsibility and choice, and support them to learn peaceful and safe ways to have their needs met.

This is what will be conveyed to the people we teach, and they’ll experience empowerment too as they learn how to handle the families with respect and understanding and experience the difference it makes.


Another core value is shared responsibility. Everybody being a witness or a part in a violent relationship has a responsibility to <what?>


A third core value is openness. The suffering gets deeper, the tighter the violence is held as a secret. By being able to name what’s happening in a non-judgmental, yet clearly descriptive way, the people involved can start understanding what impacts the incidents are having on an emotional level and what needs the individuals are not experiencing met, including safety, respect, trust, dignity and acceptance. From this point, it can be discussed what strategies will serve them.

This is a quite different approach from what happens today where authorities take over and defines what to do about the situation, de-powering everybody, victimizing the victims and creating an enemy image of the perpetrator.


We honor these values through the way we speak about what has happened and how we speak to each other. Linguistic awareness is a main focus in this program. But it’s not only about words; it’s about understanding that everything we do as human beings are attempts to meet important needs, needs that we all share. That counts for the man who beats his children, the mother who covers up, the witnessing neighbor who doesn’t interact and the social worker who knows that something is really bad but doesn’t act.


The project will consist of:

1.     A meeting duringthe first week of July when we get together for initial learning to know each other’s skills, setting up a time frame, administrative procedures and confirming the project description

2.     A seminarin the first week of September where we look at the materials for trainings and together draw an outline for the training we’re going to evolve. Defining what groups of people are our main focus to work with, and planning how to engage them. This will probably include to attend meetings with the local authorities, churches and crisis centres as well as voluntary workers in various social organizations.

3.     PlanningActivity in September 2012-January 2013 in each country where we
a. Establish connections with local areas and the people of our focus
b. Establish connections to external networks
c. Prepare and translate teaching materials

4.     F-2-f-meeting among teachers in order to coordinate exercises, activities and pre-and post-surveys

5.     In the period January-April : The first training module in each country consecutively so that experiences can be implemented as we go

6.     May-June: 2nd module in each country

7.     September - November: 3rd module in each country

8.     Seminar forteachers and project group for evaluation of the preliminary results

9.     Setting up thesupervision structure for the attendees

10.  Adapting trainingand materials. Creation of a training handbook.

11.  Networking and sharing our results and the training concept


Our competencies:


The project representatives from the Danish association Livsberigende Kommunikation (LivKom) Carl Plesner and Pernille Plantener are experienced in creating learning opportunities, facilitate networking processes and structures for supervision. Carl Plesner is an experienced facilitator of Restorative Circles with a special focus on domestic violence and Pernille Plantener is a certified NVC-trainer, process consultant and project manager. There are several other certified CNVC-trainers among the members of the applicant association LivKom, having several years of experience of working in the field of social change and individual transformation and reconciliation.



Den svenska projektdeltagaren är Friare Liv AB. Det är ett företag med tre anställda inriktat på att lära ut NVC, arbeta med medling och handledning samt driva bokförlag.


Liv Larsson är certifierad CNVC-tränare och också författare. Hon har skrivit tolv böcker om kommunikation, empatiskt lyssnande, konflikthantering, medling, kursledarskap, skam, skuld och ilska, tacksamhet, m m. Liv utbildar människor och grupper i konflikthantering och medling och har arbetat med individ-, grupp- och ledarskapsutveckling sedan 1978.


Kay Rung är empatitränare, medlare och bokförläggare. Han har arbetat som konsult och utbildare i Sverige och internationellt sedan 1998. Kay har arbetat med coaching och medling med Nonviolent Communication  som utgångspunkt sedan 2001.


Både Liv och Kay jobbar över hela världen och har bl a utbildat många inom kvinnojourer och andra folk som möter barn och vuxna som utsatts för våld.


Marie Rørvik har vært lærer i barneskole og videregående skole i ca. 15 år. Hun har videreutdanning i psykiskhelsearbeid, kunstterapi og coaching. Hun har studert IVK siden 2006. Hun har hatt treningsgrupper, gitt personlige konsultasjoner og undervist i IVK på ulike arenaer. 

Norwegian Red Cross is a strong, influential and resourceful organization of 144.000 members. Through projects in Norway, NRC has addressed issues around disadvantaged people, such as violence. Through participation in the projects ‘Stop Volden’ and ‘White Ribbon’, they’ve recently done widespread effort in the sparsely populated areas. Among other things, they’ve focused on the commonly occurring incidents of Sami children being abused and violated on boarding schools in Lapland.

NRC-representative Kjell-Arne Langseth has joined trainings in NVC and has over the years shared it with more than a hundred instructors in order to spread it through NRC over Norway.


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