Women with disability at increased risk of violence

Media Release

Women living with disability were more likely to have experienced a range of violent behaviours over a 12-month period than women without disability, according to new figures released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).

ABS Director of the National Centre for Crime and Justice Statistics, Will Milne, said new analysis of 2016 Personal Safety Survey data found women living with disability were more likely to have experienced physical violence, partner violence and emotional abuse, sexual harassment, and stalking, over a 12-month period.

“The greatest disparity in risk was found for partner violence, with results showing that women living with disability were nearly twice as likely as women without disability to have experienced violence by a partner over a 12-month period (2.5 percent compared with 1.3 percent).

“We also found that among people with disability, the risk of violence was higher for those aged 18 to 24 years (17 percent).”

The new analysis also found that intellectual/psychological disability raised the risk of violence for both men and women.

“Women with an intellectual/psychological disability were nearly three times more likely than women with a physical disability to experience violence (15 percent compared with 5.2 percent). For men the figure was over double (12 percent compared with 5.8 percent),” said Mr. Milne.

Although three in four (74 percent) women with disability experienced anxiety or fear for their personal safety following their most recent incident of physical assault by a male, fewer than one in three (29 percent) reported the incident to police.

Further information can be found in Disability and Violence - In Focus: Crime and Justice Statistics, April 2021.

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 131 114.

Media notes

  • A disability or long-term health condition exists if a limitation, restriction, impairment, disease or disorder has lasted, or is expected to last for six months or more, which restricts everyday activities.

  • Violence is defined as any incident involving the occurrence, attempt or threat of either physical or sexual assault experienced by a person since the age of 15.

  • The term 'partner' is used to describe a person the respondent lives with, or lived with at some point, in a married or de facto relationship.

  • Further information about men’s and women’s experience of violence can be found in Personal Safety, Australia and Personal Safety Survey, Australia: User Guide.

  • When reporting ABS data you must attribute the Australian Bureau of Statistics (or the ABS) as the source.
  • For media requests and interviews, contact the ABS Media Team via media@abs.gov.au (8.30am-5pm Mon-Fri).
  • Subscribe to our media release notification service to get notified of ABS media releases or publications upon their release.
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