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DV in Australia

Thanks to Our Watch for supplying the following information about domestic violence in Australia. Our Watch is a bi-partisan organsiation, backed by most Australian territories and states, to provide a specific mandate is to prevent violence against women and their children, while promoting the fact that gender equality and respectful and non-violent relationships benefits the whole community, including men. For more information about Our Watch please visit their site by clicking here >>

At A Glance

The following basic statistics help demonstrate the prevalence and severity of violence against women:

  • On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia;
  • One in three Australian women has experienced physical violence, since the age of 15;
  • One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence;
  • One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner;
  • One in four Australian women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner;
  • Women are at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner;
  • Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence, and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives;
  • Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care;
  • Violence against women is not limited to the home or intimate relationships. Every year in Australia, over 300,000 women experience violence – often sexual violence – from someone other than a partner;
  • Eight out of ten women aged 18 to 24 were harassed on the street in the past year;
  • Young women (18 – 24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups;
  • There is growing evidence that women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women experience both far higher rates and more severe forms of violence compared to other women.

What do we mean by violence against women?

Put simply, and using an internationally recognised definition, violence against women is any act of gender based violence that causes or could cause physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of harm or coercion, in public or in private life. As this definition makes clear, violence against women is not only or always physical. It includes psychological, economic, emotional and sexual violence and abuse, and a wide range of controlling, coercive and intimidating behaviours. In Australia, violence against women is called many different things, including domestic violence, family violence, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment and sexual assault.

The impact of violence against women

Violence against women and their children takes a profound and long-term toll on women and children’s health and wellbeing, on families and communities, and on society as a whole. Intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor. Domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women, a common factor in child protection notifications,15 and results in a police call-out on average once every two minutes across the country.

The combined health, administration and social welfare costs of violence against women have been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year, with projections suggesting that if If no further action is taken to prevent violence against women, costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty year period from 2014-15 to 2044-45. Children and young people are also affected by violence against women. Exposure to violence against their mothers or other caregivers causes profound harm to children, with potential impacts on attitudes to relationships and violence, as well as behavioural, cognitive and emotional functioning, social development, and – through a process of ‘negative chain effects’ – education and later employment prospects. Above all, violence against women is a fundamental violation of human rights, and one that Australia has an obligation to prevent under international law.

What about violence against men?

All violence is wrong, regardless of the sex of the victim or perpetrator. But there are distinct gendered patterns in the perpetration and impact of violence. For example, both women and men are more likely to experience violence at the hands of men, with around 95% of all victims of violence in Australia reporting a male perpetrator. While men are more likely to experience violence by other men in public places, women are more likely to experience violence from men they know, often in the home. The overwhelming majority of acts of domestic violence and sexual assault are perpetrated by men against women, and this violence is likely to have more severe impacts on female than male victims. Recognising the gendered patterns of violence doesn’t negate the experiences of male victims. But it does point to the need for an approach that looks honestly at what the research is telling us and addresses the gendered dynamics of violence.

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence: Refers to acts of violence that occur in domestic settings between two people who are, or were, in an intimate relationship. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse.

Emotional – Psychological Violence

Can include a range of controlling behaviours such as control of finances, isolation from family and friends, continual humiliation, threats against children or being threatened with injury or death.

Family Violence

Is a broader term than domestic violence, as it refers not only to violence between intimate partners but also to violence between family members. This includes, for example, elder abuse and adolescent violence against parents. Family violence includes violent or threatening behaviour, or any other form of behaviour that coerces or controls a family member or causes that family member to be fearful. In Indigenous communities, family violence is often the preferred term as it encapsulates the broader issue of violence within extended families, kinship networks and community relationships, as well as intergenerational issues.

Gender Based Violence

Violence that is specifically ‘directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately’.

Intimate Partner Violence

Any behaviour by a man or a woman within an intimate relationship (including current or past marriages, domestic partnerships, familial relations, or people who share accommodation) that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm to those in the relationship. This is the most common form of violence against women.

Non-partner sexual assault: Sexual violence perpetrated by people such as strangers, acquaintances, friends, colleagues, peers, teachers, neighbours and family members.