This web page is part of the Guide to the Icelandic justice system for 15-17 year olds who have experienced sexual abuse.

Fact: The person who abused you is not notified right away when the offence is reported to police.

Why press charges?

  • Pursuing a case through the police and courts is the only way to achieve justice and make the perpetrator take responsibility. Together, the police and the courts make up the justice system.
  • Sexual offences should be charged just like all other criminal offences. Your rights have been violated and that is never allowed.
  • The charges can prevent the perpetrator from abusing others.
  • The person who committed an offence against you has to know that it was not OK.

I don’t know what I should do

It can seem scary to press charges against a perpetrator.

  • Maybe they’re someone who is older than you.
  • Maybe they’re someone in your family.
  • Maybe they’re someone you have a crush on.
  • Maybe they’re your teacher or coach and you don’t want to make a big deal.
  • Maybe you are not sure whether the offence was serious enough.

These are all understandable thoughts. But it doesn’t matter who committed an offence against you, it was not your fault and you don’t have to be embarrassed about anything. No one is allowed to commit an offence against you.

Get advice

Speak to an adult you trust. They can help you by calling 112 to get help and guidance. You can also get advice from children's services (barnavernd).

What is sexual violence and abuse?

Manneskja heldur fyrir augun. Hún snýr að okkur og mikið liðað hár sveiflast til hægri í vindinum.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when someone makes you do something sexual that you don’t want to do, touches you, or harasses you in a sexual way.

Manneskja situr flötum beinum á gólfinu með annan fótinn krossaðan yfir. Hún er leið á svip og með lokuð augun. Hún er með dökkt sítt hár, er í blárri peysu, dökkum buxum og brúnum skóm. Hún heldur hægri hendinni upp að eyranu en heldur farsímannum upp fyrir framan sig í vinstri hendinni.

Teenage digital sexual abuse

It can be a risk taking and sending a sexual picture of yourself or others but it is okay if everyone involved wants to. When it is done through pressuring someone or without permission it is illegal.

Sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is when someone oversteps sexual boundaries.

Pressing charges

When you press charges for an offence, the justice system takes on the case. The role of the justice system, police, and courts of law is to gather data, evaluate them, and judge on the basis of that data in an impartial manner.

It takes time

It could take more than two years before a judgement is pronounced. Your case might also be dismissed.


Sexual abuse is traumatic for you and your family. You need help in order to tackle it. Child protection services organises treatment with psychologists who help young people like you to work through trauma. When you are 18 you can go to survivor support centres like Stígamót.

Good to know

  • It could take two years or more from when you press charges for the offence until the judgement is pronounced in your case.
  • It’s best to let the police know as soon as possible. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you want to press charges.
  • Not all cases go to court. If your case goes all the way to court, it might happen that the perpetrator is not found guilty. That does not mean that you are not believed. It means that it was not possible to prove the perpetrator’s guilt well enough.
  • You and your family do not have to pay for a lawyer if you press charges. You get a lawyer who is called a legal rights protector (ice. réttargæslumaður). The state pays their salary.
  • The perpetrator is not told right away that you have pressed charges against them. They are only told when the police call them in for questioning, what is called “giving a statement.”
  • Your communication with the police, child protection services, and your legal rights protector are secret. Only your parents or guardians are in communication with them.
  • You may have to tell someone at school about the case if you need flexibility in your studies. It’s often enough to tell the school counsellor what is happening.

Fact: There are lots of people at the police who work on cases just like yours every single day.

Am I the person who presses charges?

You are a child according to the law and because of that, you can’t press charges. It is your parents or guardians who press charges on your behalf. Often it is child protection services (barnavernd) that press charges.

What if...

My parents don’t want to press charges? Then child protection services press charges on your behalf

The perpetrator is my parent? If the person who abused you is one of your parents or guardians and your other parent does not support you, child protection services are responsible for ensuring your safety. You can live in another home temporarily, for example.

My parents try to influence what I say? Then child protection services probably need to provide you with another place to live for a while.


Yes, I want the perpetrator to be charged, what do I do?

You talk to the police. You can contact them directly, or through 112, by phone or webchat. You can also ask someone to contact them for you.

No, I don’t want the perpetrator to be charged, what do I do?

It is normal to be afraid in this situation. But young people do not go through this process alone, you get all kinds of support.

Tell someon

If you don’t want the offence to be charged you should still talk to someone about it. There are lots of people who are ready to listen and help and lots of free support is available.

  • Sjúkt spjall is an anonymous webchat where young people (under 20 years old) can discuss their concerns about relationships, communication, or abuse.
  • The 1717 helpline and webchat are open 24 hours a day. There you can get free, confidential support on any issue.
  • 112 phone line and webchat. There you get a counsellor from child protection services (ice. barnavernd) or from social services to support you and your family. You have to give your name but you can ask for them to keep it secret.
  • Bergið headspace is a free support and counselling centre that helps young people. There you can book a free appointment with a counsellor who goes over the problem, and provides advice and support.
  • The LGBTQ+ youth centre (Hinsegin félagsmiðstöð) is for all young people 13-17 years old who want to chat in a place where all are welcome.
  • Most public health clinics have a special reception for young people between the ages of 13-20 where they can discuss their health and well-being.