Violence in Sweden

Whenever people think of Sweden, they think of Switzerland, the land of the Alps, chocolate, and serenity.  Sweden fulfills the serenity and peace; and for most people, a safe country.  Considered a boring country to many because nothing happens except an occasional mob of girls beating each other silly at the H&M stores.

This week I was reminded that just because the world perceives Sweden as a safe country, crazy people still exist.  Bat shit violent crazy.

A week ago, I was planning a business trip abroad and so the night before was working late, putting my papers together, cleaning the kitchen and doing laundry (i am a good housewife).  The little Swede was still at the office with his coworkers because of a project.

At midnight, I finally finished my chores and sat down to watch “How I Met Your Mother.” I can’t remember the episode, but it was funny, as always.

Some fifteen minutes later, the door burst open and I could hear Þorbjörn screaming ‘honey, honey’.

That was when things got fuzzy in my head.

I ran to the living room and there was blood all over his face.

I started cleaning his face thinking he had a terrible fall on the sidewalk. The fucking Stockholm City does not clean the goddamn streets of ice, even the most trafficked streets in the city.  The only street cleaned is the one block on Drottningsgatan; it’s been cleaned so well, you would never know snow existed.  The Stockholm government is pretty stupid at actually shoveling the snow, because probably that would be too hard for the workers.  Idiots…

But falling on the ice was not the reason.

He was beaten.

He was on his way home and crossed the street from the tunnelbana station exit. As in usual Stockholm car driver asshole-ness, the driver didn’t really want to yield to him even though the pedestrian had the right of way.

And Þorbjörn crossed the street like any normal person does when they see a green light.

Then the driver turned his car and drove after him.

Crazy driver drove onto the sidewalk.

He jumped out of the car, and chased down my little Swede.

And then the crazy fucking man grabbed Þorbjörn and then starting punching him.

Not with his fists, but with a gun.

A gun.

The love of my life was beaten by a fucking asshole, who was probably high on meth, with a gun.

After spending the night in the hospital getting stitches, the police escorted us back home.  The Swedish police (polis) were also in shock, this doesn’t happen in the city, especially with a gun. We don’t know if this fucker will ever be caught but if so, he will be charged with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.  Ghastly words: attempted murder.

As a side note, guns are illegal in Sweden except for certain hunting ones which require taking a long exam and background check in order to obtain.  This is the not the stupid philosophy of waiting 7 days for an automatic gun in the US.  You wait months for a hunting gun.  And a handgun? Forget it.

Our Þorbjörn will require surgery to fix some of the broken bones.  But I am thankful because he has no neurological damage.  He may have a small scar.  The sad part is that our emotional damage will last a long time.  As of now, I’m still living in the surrealistic world of comprehending and processing the trauma.

And just a week after he proposed, life gave us a bitter pill of reality to swallow.  I can’t even think of more words to write because it’s so personal and heartbreaking.  But I know that through the help of family and friends, we will get through the trauma; my love will be stronger for him.  And we will make stronger bonds as partners.

If you ever thought violent crimes are uncommon in Sweden, they are… until you meet someone who experienced it.

28 thoughts on “Violence in Sweden”

  1. First off, I’m glad he is ok. I keep hearing how he’s doing better and better every day.

    Second, I hope they catch this guy and lock him up. Unfortunately, the Swedish Police have a 5-6% chance of solving any violent crime. ( They really need to shape-up their game!

    Third, even though guns are strictly controlled here for the general population, criminals will never listen and do whatever it takes to get them. Sweden could have a zero tolerance limit to guns, but criminals are already breaking the law, so why not have a gun that’s imported from Eastern Europe. They cannot check every vehicle that enters/exits Sweden, so it’s almost impossible to control.

    Fourthly, this is the 2nd major assault case of someone I know in Sweden. The first was a murder over the summer in Trollhättan. Completely messed up, considering Sweden and Stockholm are supposed to be one of the safest places to live in the world!

    I come from a “small town” back home, and we have MAJOR drug/gang/crime problems there with shootings/murders of 20+ a year. So hearing this happen in Sweden is bat-shit crazy.

  2. Oh. My. God. That’s shocking. I’m so glad to hear he’s doing better, but Jesus Christ. Did anyone come to his rescue, or was the street deserted, it being midnight? Oh Sapphire, I’m so sorry to hear about this, and yet again, ashamed of my home town. Please keep us updated on how the recovery and police investigation goes, but I’m afraid maybe Andrew’s right :(

  3. Oh fuck! To me sounds like he encountered a mafia member. Thanks god he’s fine.
    take care and wish him get well soon.

  4. My god! That’s horrible. I’m so sorry to hear about what happened. My thoughts are with you. And, in a diametrically opposed way, with the human filth who did it. *sigh* This stuff just makes me so fucking angry.

  5. Thank you Emma, Tod, Julie, and Jesica everyone for the wishes. Pontus, I agree…makes me angry…

    Andrew – Yea, that’s the disappointing part, he has a very low probability of being caught, and high one of doing something crazy again.

  6. This is really scary. I thought when you moved from crime ridden USA to safer (?) Stockholm, you are going to live with Noble Price giving peace loving people. It only proves that cheap trash exist everywhere. This is just madness.

    Poor Fellow, I really feel sorry for him. I pray for his quick recovery.

  7. Stereotypes are hard to die.

    I remember during my interrail trips, many, many years ago Scandinavian Countries as the most dangerous ones, especially Finland.I was not used to see so many drunk, annoying people along the streets, on trains, everywhere.On the contrary, I felt safe in Brooklyn and Manhattan by that time considered the most dangerous place on earth.

    I hoped something changed during the last 20 years but as you wrote it did not happen

    Unfortunately, he got in a wrong place in a wrong moment. It could happen wherever in the world. Fortunately he’s alive to tell the story.

    Best wishes for a good recovery

  8. This is incredibly shocking, I’m out of words.
    I really hope he gets better, not only physically but mentally as well.While things like this can happen to anyone, they never cease to be equally revolting and disgusting, whoever it hits. I’m really sorry it happened to you two.

    Something important to check for is, not letting yourself slip into the notion that it was all some sort of karma condition, where the happiness had to be brought down by something horrible. Don’t let yourself fall for that. Not only do you have the right to be happy, you _will_ be happier than you could ever imagine. Right now, as hard as it is, you need to cling to that.

    I don’t really know you, but from the look of your words, I say you already know all that, and you’ll both overcome it.

    I’ll be rooting and praying for you both.

  9. This is horrible! I would have never thought that such things happen in Sweden.
    Glad to hear that he is recovering well after the operation. Wishing him speedy recovery. Stay strong, you will get through this trauma. As long as you have each other, everything else does not matter. We are praying for your well being!

  10. hi, it’s kate from sf… just wanted to say my thoughts are with you two and i’m sure he will be fine, he’s a strong guy. this is just terrible though, i very much hope the police find this trash.

  11. thanks kate, i hope the police find the crazy fucker too. i mean the guy is still running the streets.

    and yea, our Þorbjörn is strong one. now he’s got metal in his head, makes him even more strong!

  12. Oh my lord!!! That’s horrible! goodness.. I’m glad he’s ok! I can’t even imagine what that would have been like for you two….

  13. I’m really sorry to hear this has happened. It’s true what you said, when I think of Sweden, I think of a place with little to no crime. Sweden however has its crazies just like elsewhere in the world. I have to keep that in mind. Wishes for a very quick recovery.

  14. Oh no! I’m shocked… I think of Sweden as such a safe country, I would never imagine something like this happening. Hope you both recover, physically and emotionally from this.

  15. Sounds like something from “the girl with the dragon tattoo”! except reality is a lot more painful than fiction.
    There are always violent people wherever you go.Nowhere,and i mean nowhere is totally safe.Nine times out of ten it’s a matter of being in the wrong place,wrong time.Maybe your guy shouted something or gestured angrily,or even just a “dirty look” when the guy didn’t want to stop? I’m not trying to justify what happened,just that little things can set certain people off if they’re having a real bad day,and circumstances do arise.
    The fact he had a pistol is disturbing,but at least the nitwit had the presence of mind not to pull the trigger! We thank God for small mercies.
    A violent assault always has a very deep effect whether it’s on a loved one or yourself.I’ve been robbed 3 times at gunpoint,and pistol whipped once…in England! Yup..the land of total 0 tolerance to guns.The place is full of them!

    When i first landed at Arlanda i was as usual wary about passing through customs.Not because i had anything to hide,just you always get that “oh God they’re gonna pull me in i just know it” kinda mentality,lol.
    Maybe i’m getting bad eyesight in my old age? But i was at the taxi rank outside lighting a smoke and STILL wondering where customs was! Girlfriend said we passed it but buggered if i saw anything.
    Last year i drove back to the UK to collect all my wordly goods and bring them back to Sweden.Hired a large van,drove from my house to the ferry,got off the ferry in Denmark and drove across,crossed Oresund bridge and into Malmo…and home to Båstad.In all that time i saw 3 customs officers,none of which even looked in my direction with van piled high with boxes etc!
    If i’d known i could have brought in weapons and bazooka’s and all kindsa crap and become quite rich!!
    I jest..but these eastern europeans do anything but jest,and they HAVE the weapons,capabilities and mentality to do it.
    Getting illegal weapons seems to be little harder than finding a drug dealer.If you know the right (or wrong) voila!

    It’s all a shocking state of affairs in a country where i feel safe walking around for the first time in 35 years!

    I know i’m late with this,but hope you’re both managing to cope,and arn’t too bitter with things.Life’s too short and hope you’re both over it and well.
    Oh..tell him not to mention the plate in his head at airport security checks…will drive them wild when he’s naked and the detector’s still beeping! lol. ;)

  16. BTW..i’ve mentioned i metal detect the beaches here,(Skåne)i constantly dig up 9mm/.38/.45 ACP spent shell casings.Drives me nuts as there’s so many of them,so there’s definately pistols in Sweden.
    (unless i keep finding the places the police have their annual beach parties?)

  17. Sad to hear about the assault. Absolutely NOT typical of what to espect innocently walking down a street in Stockholm. But it does happen as, sadly, almost everywhere else these days. Most likely, the assailant was a career criminal and even so must have been high on something like meth or coke. I sincerely hope your man gets over it, and doesn´t get a permanent scar in his soul as well as on his cheek…

    BTW, handgun ownership is NOT totally forbidden for civilians in Sweden, contrary to popular belief. But they are strictly regulated and licensed, even more so than the usual hunting rifles and shotguns. Actually, Sweden has a very high rate of gun ownership per capita, among the highest in the world. But this has more to do with the popularity of hunting and target shooting, more or less a national pasttime.

    But as someone pointed out, criminals, by definition, doesn´t care about laws. And it´s a given that they have more or less free access to illegal firearms, no matter how strict gun laws are applied to the law abiding citizens of the country they operate in. Just as true, the Swedish Police, as a whole, are really not that good at their job, hunting down more or less organised or hardened criminals. Mostly due to the fact that their hands are tied by an unusually naive and ineffective legal/court system.

  18. @Dano:

    It´s very common for criminals in the Malmö/Helsinborg/Landskrona area to drive out to a deserted beach in the middle of the night, to testfire their illicitly owned weapons. That would account for the majority of the pistol caliber casings you find.

    That being said, in the Malmö area, there are several legitimate shooting ranges bordering the beaches, both south and north of the city. Some of them are used by licensed target shooters, using the same calibers you´ve found. But I doubt that could explain the casings found on the beach itself, close to the water.

  19. Thanks for that Mats,i kinda guessed as much. My beaches are Ängelholm – Båstad – Halmstad, and all inbetween. Definately no shooting ranges near them lol.
    I want to do some night searching to beat the crowds,but wandering around in the dark on unofficial shooting ranges is bloody dangerous!

  20. Hey! *Cyber hugs* I hope he is doing much better!

    Like Sweden, Singapore is often cited one of the safest place in the world. We do have one saying here though and it’s “low crimes does not mean NO crime”.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery!


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