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Who does domestic violence affect?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone.

Domestic violence is not normal, but it is common. If you are experiencing domestic violence you are not alone.

Domestic violence can affect anyone in the community regardless of their:

  • age
  • gender
  • cultural background
  • ethnicity
  • sexual orientation
  • geographic location
  • religion
  • socio-economic background
  • disability

Although domestic violence can happen to anyone, certain groups are more vulnerable and exposed to domestic violence relationships than others. These groups may also have less access to resources that could assist and support them in finding help.

These vulnerable groups may include people who:

  • are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • do not speak English, or have English as their second language
  • live in rural or remote parts of Australia
  • have a disability
  • are from a minority group
  • LGBTIQ people
  • have limited financial resources
  • are children and young people
  • are women

 Women and domestic violence

Although men are also victims of domestic violence, in heterosexual relationships domestic violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by the male, and women and children are most likely to be the victims or survivors.

  • 87% of domestic violence victims are women while 13% are male. (Data: Access Economics, The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy, 2004)
  • From the age of 15: 17% of all women & 3% of all men have suffered physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner. (ABS Personal Safety Survey, 2012).
  • This is equivalent to 1 in 6 women.
  • In Australia one woman is killed by a partner or ex-partner almost every week
  • Domestic violence is the biggest contributor to ill health and premature death in women aged 15-44 (vichealth)

This means that domestic violence can be seen as a gendered crime as women and children are disproportionately the victims of violence in the home. A gendered crime is when one sex is most likely to be the target of a particular crime and the other is most likely to be the offender (Health Department of Western Australia).

There are a number of contributing factors to domestic violence, but the root cause of violence against women can be seen to be gender inequality. There is an extensive body of research that has found a strong link between the use of violence and gendered attitudes about male entitlement and control over women and children. The times when violence can peak is when the male feels that their control is threatened, this is often seen when their partner is pregnant or after/during separation.

To prevent domestic violence, these gendered attitudes about male entitlement and control over women and children need to be targeted. That means that gender inequality needs to be tackle on all levels of society in order to make meaningful change and to stop domestic violence from occurring.

We work from an ecological model, that is we recognize that there are a number of aspects that cause and contribute to domestic violence on societal, community and individual levels.

A framework for understanding violence

Societal: The culture, values and beliefs that shape the other three levels of the societal ecology.
Community/organisational: The formal and informal social structures that impact on a person.
Individual: The developmental experiences and personality factors that shape a person’s response to stressors in their environment.
Relationship: The intimate interactions a person has with others.

From vichealth

The ASWS recognises that gender inequalities pervade every level of the society and prevention strategies need to be implemented on all three levels in order to create change and address the cultural norms which allow domestic violence to continue.

Indigenous women

The Northern Territory has the highest rate of domestic violence in Australia.

Aboriginal women are particularly vulnerable to domestic violence and are in fact 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than non-Aboriginal women.

Aboriginal women are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence than non-Aboriginal women.

Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women are faced with significant and complex issues surrounding domestic violence. Indigenous women have less access to resources that can assist them in staying safe and many of the services that are available to women do not operate in a culturally sensitive manner or recognise their unique needs.

Many Indigenous women live remotely and speak English as their second language and as such are not able to report their concerns. Domestic violence is underreported in Indigenous communities, and many Indigenous women have a warranted suspicion of criminal justice services.

Indigenous women have strong ties to family and country which may prevent them from leaving domestic violence relationships.

Links for further reading

Key issues in domestic violence- Australian Institute of criminology

Domestic and family violence Creative Spirits