This study aimed to estimate the proportion of an unselected population in an urban community (Bergen, Norway) that was exposed to physical violence during the preceding year, and to determine the proportion seeking medical treatment and pressing legal charges.
A structured telephone interview was performed as part of monthly opinion polls.
During a one-year period in 1997/1998, 3,005 residents of Bergen were interviewed. Of these, 41 (1.4%) had been exposed to physical violence during the preceding year; 10 (24%) of them had sought medical treatment, and 16 (39%) had pressed legal charges. The majority of the victims had been treated at Bergen Accident and Emergency Department. The interviewees knew about a total of 347 other people who had been assaulted during the preceding year. Of these assault victims, 224 (65%) sought medical treatment and 181 (52%) pressed legal charges, according to the respondents.
A high proportion of the assault victims did not seek medical treatment and did not press legal charges.