Working with dignity


  • Kaare Torgny Pettersen



Norwegian incest centre, child sexual abuse, dignity


The study presented in this article is based on empirical material from a survey among leaders from 19 of the 20 incest centres in Norway, as well as interviews with 13 workers from one of these centres. The Norwegian incest centre movement started in the mid 1980s and seems to be a Norwegian phenomenon. The research question in this study is: What signifies the work done within Norwegian incest centres? The study reveals that these non-governmental institutions understand child sexual abuse as a violation of dignity and that they place emphasis on working with dignity when they deal with victims of child sexual abuse and their families. They see themselves as a supplement to professional therapeutic institutions. They place emphasis on meeting victims of child sexual abuse and their families with the working principle of help to self-help and by being fellow human beings. All of the centres place emphasis on dealing with a violated dignity with security, intimacy, love, belonging, recognition, and respect. The study also shows that 43 per cent of the workers in these centres have themselves experienced child sexual abuse, and that their acknowledgement of previous indignity has given them a self-knowledge that helps them in their work with dignity in the Norwegian incest centres.


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How to Cite

Pettersen, K. T. (2013). Working with dignity. Social Work and Social Sciences Review, 16(1), 7-18.