In 2005, the Australian Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey estimated that almost 2 in every 5 women (39%) in Australia had experienced some form of violence since the age of 15.
In 2005 1 in every 6 women (1 293 100) said they had experienced sexual assault since the age of 15.
Half of these were committed by a family member of friend; one in five perpetrators was a previous partner. Only in 22% of cases of sexual assault against women was the perpetrator unknown
In the year 2004-2005 126,000 women in Australia experienced sexual violence. But only 19 per cent of the women who had experienced sexual violence by a male perpetrator reported the incident to police.
Since the age of 15, 15% of women (1 135 000) had experienced domestic violence by their previous partner and 2.1% of women had experienced violence by their current partner.
Only 2 out of 10 women who experience physical violence by their current or previous partner report it to police.
In 77% of cases of physical violence by men against women the perpetrator is a partner or relative of the woman. Only in 11% of cases is the perpetrator unknown to the woman.
For women with families, in half the cases where a woman experienced violence from her partner, there were children present. In about 27% of cases, the children had actually witnessed the violence.
Where violence was perpetrated by a previous partner, in 61% of cases there were children present. In about 36% of cases, the children had witnessed the violence. (2005, ABS Personal Safety Survey).
Domestic violence and homelessness
Domestic violence is the primary reason women become homeless and seek help from the Supported Accommodation Assistance Program (SAAP) since data collection began over a decade ago.
. More than half (54%) of women with children seeking crisis accommodation cite domestic violence as the main cause of their homelessness.
Of women without children – more than a third of those over 25 and almost a quarter of women under the age of 25 cited the main cause of their homelessness as Domestic Violence.
Only half the women and children seeking crisis accommodation due to domestic violence are able to be housed.
Between 1989 and 2002 there were on average 77 intimate partner homicides each year in Australia. 75% of these murders involved a male killing his female partner. A quarter of the intimate partner homicides occurred between separated, divorced or estranged couples – of those killed 84% were women. During 2003 – 2004 there were 71 intimate partner homicides, “the majority of which involved a male killing his female partner”
Cost To the Community
The total annual cost of domestic violence in 2002 -2003 was estimated to be $8.1 billion. Because of the pain, suffering and premature death experienced by victims half of the $8.1 billion is estimated to be borne by the victims of domestic violence. The cost to the general community is estimated to be $1.2 billion. Despite the fact that most incidents of domestic violence remain unreported the total estimated legal costs of DV in 2002-2003 was $298 million.
In Australia, domestic violence causes more ill health for women than other health risks such as high cholesterol and illicit drugs. For women between the ages of 15-44 domestic violence is the greatest risk factor.
A study in Victoria found that:
“Intimate partner violence is responsible for more ill health and premature death in Victorian women under the age of 45 than any other of the well known risk factors, including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking (VicHealth 2004)”.