2 in 5 Australians have experienced physical or sexual violence
An estimated eight million Australians (41 per cent) aged 18 years and over have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15, according to new results from the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).
Michelle Ducat, ABS head of crime and justice statistics, said “We found 43 per cent of men and 39 per cent of women have experienced either physical or sexual violence since the age of 15.”
|Sexual violence||1 in 5 women experienced sexual violence (22 per cent or 2.2 million women)||1 in 16 men experienced sexual violence (6.1 per cent or 582,400 men)|
|Physical violence||1 in 3 women experienced physical violence (31 per cent or 3.1 million women)||2 in 5 men experienced physical violence (42 per cent or 4.0 million men)|
Footnote: People may have experienced both physical and sexual violence, they are counted separately for each type of violence in the table, but only once in the physical or sexual violence total.
People were also asked about their experiences of violence and abuse (emotional and economic) by a cohabiting partner.
“One in six women and one in eighteen men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a cohabiting partner,” Ms Ducat said, adding that “one in four women and one in seven men experienced emotional abuse by a cohabiting partner.”
Economic abuse, which occurs when a person’s access to economic resources is controlled or restricted by their partner, was experienced by one in six women and one in thirteen men.
12-month prevalence rates
This latest release provides valuable insight into experiences of violence and abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 12-month prevalence rates of violence experienced in the 2021-22 reference period were compared with 12-month prevalence rates from 2016.
“We saw similar rates of physical violence and sexual violence in 2021-22 when compared with 2016”, Ms Ducat said. The rate of sexual harassment declined for both women (from 17 per cent in 2016 to 13 per cent in 2021-22) and men (from 9.3 per cent to 4.5 per cent).
The rate of cohabiting partner emotional abuse also declined over the same period for both women (from 4.8 per cent to 3.9 per cent) and men (from 4.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent), as did the rate of cohabiting partner violence for women (from 1.7 per cent to 0.9 per cent).
Ms Ducat said “we acknowledge the experiences of people affected by violence and abuse who are represented in this report and would like to thank those who participated in the survey. Their contribution has added valuable insights to informing government and service responses.”
If you or anyone you know is in need or crisis, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline (13 11 14).
The Personal Safety Survey showed that about 8 million people have experienced physical or sexual violence since the age of 15. That's about two in every five Australian adults.
We found that one in six women and one in 18 men experienced violence by a partner they lived with.
We found that one in four women and one in seven men reported experiencing emotionally abusive behaviours by a partner. The types of behaviour we're talking about included things like manipulation and controlling behaviours, and they were intended to isolate and intimidate a person. So, it could include things like restricting access to family or friends, withholding finances, or threatening to harm children or pets.
The survey collected data on economic abuse for the very first time, and we found that one in six women and one in 13 men had experienced economic abuse by a partner. By this, we're really talking about a partner who controlled or restricted access to economic resources with the aim to cause emotional harm or fear.
Since 2016, when the last survey was run, we found that partner emotional abuse and sexual harassment have declined, and that was for both men and women. While the rate of physical violence and sexual violence remains similar to 2016.
- The PSS collects information from persons aged 18 years and over about the nature and extent of violence experienced since the age of 15, and their past experiences of child abuse and witnessing parental violence before the age of 15.
- In the PSS, violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt, or threat of either sexual or physical assault since the age of 15.
- Fractions provided are approximations. For precise estimates, refer to the data downloads.
- Cohabiting partner refers to a partner the person lives with or lived with at some point, in a married or de facto relationship.
- Emotional abuse includes behaviours or actions that are aimed at preventing or controlling a person’s behaviour, causing them emotional harm or fear. These behaviours are characterised in nature by their intent to manipulate, control, isolate or intimidate the person they are aimed at.
- Economic abuse includes behaviours or actions that are aimed at preventing or controlling a person’s access to economic resources, causing them emotional harm or fear.
- Sexual harassment is considered to have occurred when a person has experienced or been subjected to behaviours which made them feel uncomfortable and were offensive due to their sexual nature.
- Prevalence rate refers to the number of men/women who have experienced the violence/abuse type since age 15/in the last 12 months, expressed as a percentage of all men/women aged 18 years and over.
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