How often is violence against women happening?

The statistics show    

  • this is a really big problem in our community,

  • a quarter of kids have witnessed violence in their homes,

  • women are more likely to be abused by a partner than a stranger, 

  • young women are especially at risk of being abused.

  Since the age of 15, almost 40 per cent of women have experienced violence (1 [ABS]).

  The most common form of violence experienced by women globally is intimate partner violence (someone they know well), sometimes leading to death (2 [UN]).

  Globally, one in three women will be raped, beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime (3 [Unifem]).

  Pregnant women can be at greater risk of experiencing violence. Women are often assaulted for the first time, or experience an increase in assaults during pregnancy (4 [Office of Women's Policy Vic]).

  Just over 20 per cent of homicides involve intimate partners. Males commit homicide seven times more frequently than women (5 [AIC]).

  Of the 122 intimate partner homicides perpetrated in Australia throughout the period of 2008 to 2010, 73% of victims were female.(6 [Chan and Payne]).

  An estimated quarter of children and young people have witnessed intimate partner violence against their mother or step-mother (7 [AIC]).

  Violence against women is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15-44, being responsible for more of the disease burden than many well-known factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity (8 [VicHealth]).

  Most cases of violence are not reported. About 80 per cent of cases of violence go unreported to the police (9 [VicHealth]).

  In 2009, the total cost of domestic violence on the Australian economy was $13.6 billion (10 [KPMG update of Access Economics 2004 Study] ). This is such a large amount of money it is hard to imagine. It might be easier to imagine what else would cost this amount - for example, this figure is the equivalent of building about 30 Docklands Stadiums - each year.


Violence Against Children

   61 per cent of women who reported violence by a current partner had children in their care at some time during the relationship.

   In 32 to 53 per cent of families where women are beaten, their children are also beaten by the same perpetrator.

   A Western Australian study reported one third of children having been hit by their fathers while trying to defend their mothers.

   90 per cent of children present in violent homes have witnessed the violence perpetrated against their mothers.

(11 [the above statistics on Violence Against Children come from White Ribbon])


Violence Against Young Women

“38% of young women in high school in Australia said they had sex when they didn't want to” (12 [DVRCV]).

   Younger women are more at risk than older women. For young women, the risk of violence is 3 to 4 times higher than the risk for women overall (13 [AIC]).

   12 per cent of women aged 18-24 had experienced an incident of physical assault in the last 12 months, compared to 6 per cent of women aged 35-44 (14[ABS]).

   28.2 per cent of women aged 18-24 had experienced an incident of sexual assault in the last 12 months, compared to 17.2 per cent of women aged 45 and older (15 [ABS]).

   13.4 per cent of women aged 18-24 had experienced unwanted sexual touching by a man in the last 12 months (16 [ABS]).

   For young women, 38% report ever having unwanted sex (17 [LaTrobe University]).

   12 per cent of young women aged 18-23 report that they have been in a violent relationship with a partner or spouse (18 [AIC]).

Of those who reported physical violence, nearly half had been subjected to 'serious violence' including being beaten, choked, or attempted shooting. Seven per cent had been shot or stabbed, while three-quarters had been slapped, kicked, hit with a fist or with something else that could hurt them. About three-quarters had sustained injuries. Sixteen per cent were seriously injured including broken bones, burns, broken teeth, or had suffered miscarriages (19 [AIC]).


Violence Against Men

Men are more likely than women to be the victims of general violence (20 [ABS]).

Young men (aged 18-24) are most likely to have experienced recent violence, with 31 per cent of men in this age group reporting at least one experience of violence in the last 12 months (as at 2005) (21 [ABS]).

Most of the violence against them is coming from other men. For example, almost 90 per cent of males who have been physically assaulted identify their perpetrator as male (22 [ABS]).

Sometimes women are violent towards men. Sixteen per cent of men report being physically assaulted by a woman (23 [ABS]). When women are violent toward men, it "is more likely to occur in self-defence" and in response to stress and fear associated with violence against them by their intimate partners. For example, when women kill male intimate partners (which make up 10 per cent of all male homicides), there is a history of domestic violence against the woman in over 70 per cent of cases (24 [VLRC]).

While men are more likely to be physically assaulted by a stranger in the most recent incident since the age of 15, women are more often assaulted by a current and/or previous partner (25 [ABS]).

The level of violence against men is completely unacceptable. The values that create respectful, safe relationships between men and women, are just as important in creating a safe world for men.


1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Personal Safety Survey. Catalogue 4906.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.7.

2. United Nations. (2006). Ending violence against women: From words to actions. United Nations, p.2.

3. Unifem. (2003). Not a minute more: Ending violence against women . United Nationa Development Fund for Women, New York, p.6.

4. Office of Women's Policy Victoria. (2002). Women's safety strategy: A policy framework. Victorian Government, Office of Women's Policy, Melbourne, p.55.

5. Mouzos, J. (2000). Homicidal Encounters: A Study of Homicide in Australia 1989-1999. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, p.115 & p.xx.

6. Chan, A and Payne, J. (2013). Homicide in Australia: 2008-2009 to 2009-2010 National Homicide Monitoring Program Annual Report. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra.

7. Indermaur, D. (2001). Young Australians and domestic violence. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, p.1.

8. VicHealth. (2004). The health costs of violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Carlton, p.10.

9. VicHealth. (2004). The health costs of violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence. Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Carlton, p17.

10. National Council To Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children. (2009). Economic Costs of Violence against Women and their Children. Commonwealth Government of Australia, Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, Canberra, p.4.

11. White Ribbon. (2007). Facts and stats. White Ribbon Foundation, Sydney, p.2.

12. Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria. 'Relationships: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' booklet, based on 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' website. DVRCV, p.7.

13. Young, M., Byles, J., and Dobson, A. (2000). The effectiveness of legal protection in the prevention of domestic violence in the lives of young Australian women. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice , No. 148, March. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, p.1. 

14. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Personal Safety Survey. Catalogue No. 4906.0. Canberra, Australian Bureau of Statistics, p.6.

15. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Personal Safety Survey. Catalogue No. 4906.0. Canberra, Australian Bureau of Statistics, p.32.

16. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (1996). Women's Safety. Catalogue No. 4128.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.70.

17. Smith, A., Agius, P., Dyson, S., Mitchell, A., and Pitts, M. (2008). Secondary school students and sexual health: Results of the 4th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students, HIV/AIDS and Sexual Health. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne.

18. Young, M., Byles, J., and Dobson, A. (2000). The effectiveness of legal protection in the prevention of domestic violence in the lives of young Australian women. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice , No. 148, March. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, p.2.

19. Young, M., Byles, J., and Dobson, A. (2000). The effectiveness of legal protection in the prevention of domestic violence in the lives of young Australian women. Trends and Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice , No. 148, March. Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, p.1.

20. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Interpersonal violence. Catalogue No. 4102.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.1

21. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Interpersonal violence. Catalogue No. 4102.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.2.

22. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Interpersonal violence. Catalogue No. 4102.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.2.

23. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2007). Interpersonal violence. Catalogue No. 4102.0. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.2-3.

24. Victorian Law Reform Commission. (2006). Family violence: Fact sheet. Victorian Law Reform Commission, Melbourne.

25. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2005). Personal Safety Survey. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Canberra, p.9.