Eliminating Violence Against Women Media Awards

FAQs on Violence Against Women

Do alcohol and drugs cause men to be violent?

While alcohol, drugs and poverty are risk factors in the perpetration of family violence or sexual assault, research shows that, at an individual level, the strongest and most consistent predictors of violence among men is their agreement with sexist, patriarchal, and/or sexually hostile attitudes.1


At the societal level, the most significant factor in the perpetration of violence against women is the unequal power relations between men and women.2


Drugs and alcohol can exacerbate existing patterns of violence against women and children but most men who drink do not perpetrate violence and many men who don't drink are violent towards their partners.

If you were abused as a child or witnessed family violence, will you go on to perpetrate violence?

Not necessarily.


A study conducted in 2001 of 5000 young Australians aged between 12-20 showed that one quarter of young people have witnessed an incident of physical violence against their mother or stepmother. This study found that witnessing family violence is a significant risk factor for young men to become perpetrators of violence in the future.3


However later research has stressed that such 'intergenerational transmission' is not inevitable. Where children and their mothers/step mothers are offered supportive and safe environments to recover from abuse, and where children and young people are exposed to healthy relationship and parenting models, then children and young people previously exposed to abuse can not only go on to build their own relationships as respectful and non-violent, but can become some of the strongest advocates against violence.4

Why don't women just leave?

There are a number of barriers to women leaving a violent situation - she might fear for her and/or her children's safety, she may have nowhere to go, she might feel financially dependent on her partner or fear reprisals from her family, friends and community.


Nationally, only 19 per cent of all women who are the victims of sexual assault and 36 per cent of all women who are victims of physical violence by a male perpetrator reported to police in 2005.5


However, about 75 per cent of women who experienced intimate partner violence did tell someone - usually friends and family.6


This is why it is important for family and friends to help women to seek specialist assistance.


Victoria Police must respond and take action on any family violence incident reported to them and take immediate action to protect and support affected family members.7


This may involve applying for an intervention order on behalf of the woman, including issuing a Family Violence Safety Notice, and removing a perpetrator from the family home.

Do women make up family violence and sexual assault incidents?

Most accusations of domestic violence and sexual assault, including those made in the context of family law proceedings, have been made in good faith and with evidence for their substantiation.8


According to a 2006 study of reported rapes in Australia, only 2.1 per cent of reports were designated by police as false.9

Are women are just as violent as men?

While most men are not violent and do not accept violence against women, most violence of all forms is committed by males.


In Australia's largest survey on personal safety, 82 per cent of people who had been physically assaulted, and 99 per cent of people who had been sexually assaulted, were assaulted by a male perpetrator.10


While men are usually assaulted by male strangers, violence against women is largely committed by males known to them, including family members and intimate partners.


Overall 31 per cent of women who experienced physical violence in the past 12 months were assaulted by a current or previous partner, compared to 4.4 per cent of men.11

Is family violence a serious problem?

Violence against women and children, including family violence and sexual assault, is a serious problem. It's also illegal.


The Family Violence Protection Act (Vic) 2008 defines family violence as including physical harm, sexual assault and emotional and economic abuse. This law aims to protect adult and child victims from further family violence.


In Victoria during 2009/10, there were 35,720 incidents where Victoria Police submitted family incident reports.12


A woman is killed in Australia almost every week by a partner or ex-partner.13

Can you prevent violence against women?

Violence against women is preventable.


Just as we have changed attitudes about issues such as drink driving, skin cancer and smoking, so too can we prevent violence against women.


Education programs, community initiatives and social marketing campaigns have all been found effective in transforming attitudes and behaviours around violence against women. The media has a powerful role to play in prevention. Good reporting can not only illustrate the impact of violence against women and their families, but also challenge the myths and stereotypes that perpetrate it.

What can I do?

In emergency situations or immediate danger call Police on 000.


For confidential help and referral in Australia call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).


Children/young people needing help should call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800.


Women needing help or referral for domestic violence can call the Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Service on 1800 015 188.


Men concerned about their behaviour at home can call the Men's Referral Service on 1800 065 973.


People who have experienced sexual assault can call the Sexual Assault Crisis Line on 1800 806 292.


Research has shown that most women who experience intimate partner violence tell someone - usually friends or family. If you are that someone, visit the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria's website for advice and guidance at http://www.dvrcv.org.au/help-advice/guide-for-families-friends-and-neighbours/


We know that most men do not accept violence and it is important for the non violent men in our community to speak out about all forms of violence against women. Men can play vital roles in helping to reduce and prevent men's violence against women. For more information about how men can get involved, visit www.whiteribbonday.org.au

1VicHealth (2010) National Survey on Community Attitudes to violence against women: A Summary of Findings, Melbourne, p.14.

2A Right to Respect: Victoria’s Plan to Prevent Violence against Women 2010-2020, p.13.

3National Crime Prevention (2001) Young People & Domestic Violence: National research on young people’s attitudes and experiences of domestic violence. Canberra: Crime Prevention Branch, Commonwealth Attorney-Generals Department

4Humphreys, C., Houghton C., and Elli J., (2008) Literature Review: Better Outcomes for Children and Young People Affected by Domestic Abuse-Directions for Good Practice, Edinburgh, Scottish Government; & Flood M. and Fergus. L., An Assault on Our Future, A White Ribbon Foundation Report

5Personal Safety Survey, ABS, 2006, Summary of Findings, p. 8.

6Mouzos, J. and T. Makkai (2004). Women’s Experiences of Male Violence: Findings of the Australian Component of the   International Violence against Women Survey. Canberra, Australian Institute of Criminology, p. 101

7Victoria Police (2010), Code of Practice for the Investigation of Family Violence, p.2.

8VicHealth (2009) National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence Against Women 2009: Changing cultures, changing attitudes – preventing violence against women, A summary of findings. Melbourne, pp.43-45.

9Study of Reported Rapes in Australia 2000-2003, Summary Research Report, Dr Melanie Heenan and Dr Suellen Murray, 2006, p.5.

10Personal Safety Survey, ABS, 2006.

11Personal Safety Survey, ABS, 2006, table 16, p.30.

12Victoria Police Crime Statistics, 2009/10

13This figure has been extrapolated from a review of data contained in the National Homicide Monitoring Program Annual reports. The data indicates that in 2007/2008 there were 62 female victims of homicide killed by an intimate partner, in 2006/2007 there were 33 female victims of homicide killed by an intimate partner and in 2005/2006 there were 66 female victims of homicide killed by an intimate partner. http://www.aic.gov.au/documents/8/9/D/{89DEDC2D-3349-457C-9B3A-9AD9DAFA7256}mr13_003.pdf