Who experiences
family violence

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Anyone can experience family violence.

Most family violence is perpetrated by men, against women

Data shows that family violence is predominantly perpetrated by men against women and children within intimate partner relationships and immediate family contexts 1 .

  • Approximately one in four women has experienced intimate partner violence, compared to one in 13 men.
  • More than one in three Australians has experienced violence by a male perpetrator since the age of 15 (36 per cent or 6.7 million), compared to one in ten by a female perpetrator (11 per cent or 2 million) (ABS, 2016)

While most people who experience family violence are women, it can impact anyone

Research undertaken by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare found that the groups of people most impacted by family violence are:

  • younger women
  • children
  • older people
  • people with disability
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (including people with temporary residency status)
  • LGBTIQA+ people
  • people in rural and remote communities
  • people with mental health issues and/or substance misuse problems
  • people from socioeconomically disadvantaged areas
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Because of social inequality and discrimination, some groups of people experience significantly higher rates of violence generally, including family violence. There are high rates of family violence perpetrated against women in the sex work industry and women who have been criminalised (Royal Commission into Family Violence, 2016). Emerging evidence also shows that the rates of intimate partner violence within same-sex relationships are as high as the rates experienced by cisgender women in heterosexual relationships, and possibly higher for bisexual, transgender and gender diverse people2. Aboriginal women are 32 times more likely than other women to be hospitalised and 10 times more likely to die from violent assault. Women and girls with disabilities are twice as likely to experience violence as those without disabilities (Family Safety Victoria, 2020).

Men’s experiences of family violence

People of all genders and ages have different experiences as victims of family violence. The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence acknowledged that men are more likely than women to be the perpetrators of family violence in intimate partner relationships, but can also be victims of family violence. Men can also be victims of violence when they are children or as older people, and violence can be used against them by adolescent or adult children, siblings and other family members.

The data suggests that responses seeking to address the highest risks to men (including homicide) should focus on the risk posed by parents, siblings and other family members, rather than by female intimate partners (Royal Commission into Family Violence, 2016).

  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2019; Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, 2018; Diemer, K. (2015). ABS Personal Safety Survey: Additional analysis on relationship and sex of perpetrator. Documents and working papers, Research on violence against women and children. Melbourne, Vic: University of Melbourne
  2. Our Watch & GLHV@ARCSHS (2017). Note: the rate of family violence for people with an intersex variation is as yet unknown.


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