About violence against women

The World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2017 described violence against women as a major public health issue and violation of human rights.

WHO estimates that worldwide, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime and that most of this violence occurs in intimate partner relationships.

What about Australia?

In a 2016 research paper, Powell and Webster highlighted the fact that, “National and international research has repeatedly identified the specific gendered nature and context of women’s victimisation of violence, whereby women are disproportionately victims of sexual and partner violence and overwhelmingly at the hands of known male perpetrators.”

The 2016 Personal Safety Survey from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, found:

  • More than one in three Australians experienced violence by a male perpetrator since the age of 15 (36% or 6.7 million), compared to one in ten by a female perpetrator (11% or 2 million).
  • Approximately one in four women (23% or 2.2 million) experienced violence by an intimate partner, compared to one in thirteen men (7.8% or 703,700)
  • Women were nearly three times more likely to have experienced partner violence than men, with approximately one in six women (17% or 1.6 million) and one in sixteen men (6.1% or 547,600) having experienced partner violence since the age of 15
  • In the most recent incident of sexual assault by a male, women were most likely to experience sexual assault by a male they knew (87% or 553,700).

What are Australians attitudes towards violence against women?

The 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS) found that most Australians reject attitudes supportive of violence against women but that these pervasive attitudes do exist in society. Such attitudes include:

  • Excusing the perpetrator and holding women responsible
  • Minimising violence against women
  • Mistrusting women’s reports of violence
  • Condoning male peer relations involving aggression and disrespect towards women
  • Disregarding the need to gain consent.

Where does toxic masculinity come into violence against women?

Toxic masculinity refers to cultural norms and expectations of masculinity which shape boys and men’s lives including how to think and behave, such as being tough or dominant, self-reliant and suppressing emotions, or not liking things that are seen as ‘feminine’. Toxic masculinity is harmful to men and all people, and is linked to increases in suicide in men, and violence and aggression towards others, including women.

What are the impacts of violence against women?

Our Watch has listed some of the impacts of violence against women, including health, social welfare and economic. Violence against women can also lead to homelessness in women and harm children.

What can I do to prevent violence against women?

The 2015 Our Watch Report outlined some ways to prevent violence against women:

  • Challenge the condoning of violence against women
  • Promote women’s independence and decision-making in public life and relationships
  • Foster positive personal identities and challenge gender stereotypes and roles
  • Strengthen positive, equal and respectful relations between and among women and men, girls and boys.

Please contact us if you would like more information.