Sexual violence in intimate relationships – cultural meanings

Funding: Justis- og beredskapsdepartementet
Project period: 2017-2019
Researchers: Kari Stefansen (project leader), Ingrid Smette

Forsker Kari Stefansen. Foto: HiOA
Kari Stefansen

This project will explore sexual violence across intimate relationships and in different social contexts.

Sexual violence is defined as acts of sexual nature that violates a persons ”gender freedom”, according to Dahl (1994) the right to be left alone and to decide freely if one wants to engage in sexual relations and the nature of these relations. Hence sexual violence comprises acts commonly regarded as milder, such as unwanted sexual touching, as well as rape.

The project is primarily qualitative, but will also be informed by quantitative data.

The following three themes will be explored:

  • The prevalence of different forms of sexual violence, and trends in sexual violence over time using survey data from the YoungViolence studies conducted in 2007 and 2015 among 18-19 year olds.
  • Unwanted sexual attention / sexual harassment in the sport context, drawing on focus group interviews conducted among college students.
  • Meanings of sexual violence in young peoples life narratives, drawing on qualitative interviews among college students and younger youths from different social milieus.
  • Hvordan defineres moralitet i ulike seksualkulturer, og hvordan henger forståelser av moralitet sammen med oppfatninger om og erfaring av seksuelle krenkelser. Analyser basert på  fokusgruppeintervjuer med unge voksne (18-19) rekruttert fra ulike sosiale miljøer.

The project is informed by social constructivist perspectives, theories on gender and power, and theories on class (biography) and subjectivity.


Østby, L & Stefansen, K (2017). Nettverkets betydning etter seksuelle overgrep. Tidsskrift for psykisk helsearbeid. 13(3):201-220. DOI: 10.18261/issn.1504-3010-2017-03-02

Skilbrei, ML & Stefansen, K (2018): Seksuell vold. En samfunnsvitenskapelig introduksjon, Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk, 2018

For more information contact Kari Stefansen, e-mail: