South Eastern Centre Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence

How common is family violence?

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Violence against women is recognised to be a serious and widespread problem in Australia, with enormous individual and community impacts and social costs.

Five per cent of male and 17 per cent of female respondents to a 2013 survey 1 had been physically or sexually assaulted by a past or current partner on at least one occasion since the age of 15.

Twenty-five per cent of female and 14 per cent of male respondents had been emotionally abused by a past or current partner since turning 15 years old.

The Victorian Royal Commission into Family Violence 9 noted that while males were more likely to be victims of violence generally, this was most likely to occur at the hands of men outside the family home. By contrast, violence against women is more likely to be perpetrated by an intimate partner.

Female victims are more likely to be a current or former partner of the perpetrator, while men are more likely to experience violence in different familial relationships – for example, as a son or a sibling.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey 2012 7 showed that 95 per cent of men and 80 per cent of women who had experienced violence from a current partner had never contacted the police. It also showed that:

  1. one in three women had experienced physical violence since the age of 15
  2. nearly one in five women had experienced sexual violence since the age of 15
  3. 16 per cent of women had experienced violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15.

Intimate partner violence especially affects pregnant women. The ABS found that 36 per cent of women who experienced intimate partner violence were pregnant at the time of the violence and 17 per cent of those women were pregnant when the violence started.

On average there are 129 domestic/family homicide victims in Australia each year (between 32 and 47 percent of all homicides annually). Two in five victims are killed by a family member and these victims are most commonly partners, parents and children

Women aged 18–24 experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups.

There is growing evidence that women with disabilities are more likely to experience violence.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 35 times more likely to experience family violence and more severe forms of violence compared to other women.

Of those women who experience violence, more than half have children in their care.


  • Family violence is a pattern of abusive behaviour in an intimate or family relationship where one person assumes a position of power over another and causes fear.
  • Family violence (also called domestic violence) takes many forms: it can be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional, economic, spiritual or legal abuse.
  • All forms of family violence are illegal and unacceptable.
  • If you’re affected by family violence, help and support are available.

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