Violence & Safety
Violence is gendered, in as much as women are most vulnerable to it and men are the primary perpetrators of it. Violence extends to the physical, sexual and psychological abuse of another. In Australia, more men than women are imprisoned for acts of violence, and sexual assault is the second highest category of offence for men. Experience of violence is a known indicator of mental health and psychological wellbeing, and suicidality. Specific groups such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and women with disabilities experience a range of additional factors that contribute to their greater risk of specific types of violence. Finding support and accessing appropriate services may also be difficult for some groups of women.
Some information about violence and crime includes:
- Globally, 10-50% of women are affected by domestic violence.
- Violence against women is a major contributor to women’s experience of poor psychological wellbeing, with women more likely to be victims of violence than men and at greatest risk of violence from their male partners.
- Women who have been subjected to domestic violence are four times more likely to experience traumatic stress symptoms than non-abused women.
- Domestic violence leads to decreased psychological wellbeing in mid-aged women, increased depression and other forms of mental illness that are linked to suicide ideation.
- Rape will cause one in three women to experience depression, excessively use drugs or attempt suicide.
- In 2007, the number of women in Australian prisons was 1984, just 7% of the total number of incarcerated people (27,224). The average age for female offenders was the same as males at 33 years, but was 30 years for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women.
- The imprisonment rate for women in Australia is 24 per 100,000 compared to 320 per 100,000 for men.
- The three highest causes of incarceration in 2007 for women were: ‘illicit drugs’, ‘acts intended to cause injury’, and ‘deception’. The gendered nature of violence was revealed in statistics for men who were more likely to be imprisoned for: ‘acts intended to cause injury’, ‘sexual assault’, and ‘unlawful entry with intent’.
Women with disabilities
- Women with disabilities experience violence common to all women, but also particular to their ‘situation of social disadvantage, cultural devaluation and increased dependence'.
- Australian data is limited, but overseas research has found that 40% of women with disabilities experienced intimate partner violence in the five years before being surveyed.
- Women with disabilities are also one and a half times more likely to have been sexually abused as children than other women. Almost half the women in this last study, who had been sexually assaulted or subjected to violence, stated that they had difficultly locating accessible support and were dissatisfied with service provision; an ongoing issue for disability advocacy groups.
Women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds
- In 2005, more women who had experienced partner violence in the past twelve months were born in Australia (93,700) than those born overseas. However, 20,800 women who born overseas also reported having experienced partner violence in twelve months prior to survey.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are more likely than non-Aboriginal women to be a victim of violence. Twenty-two percent (22%) of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women over the age of 18 reported that they had been a victim of physical or threatened violence in the twelve months prior to being surveyed.
Same-sex attracted women
- Homophobia and abuse is a common experience for same-sex attracted (SSA) people, particularly in school and work environments. Forty percent (40%) of young SSA females in one study reported being abused at school. Abuse reported by males and females ranged from having clothes and possessions damaged, to rape and hospitalisation for injuries.
 Loxton, D., Schofield, M. & Hussain, R. (2006) Psychological health in midlife among women who have ever lived with a violent partner or spouse. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 21 (8): 1092-107.
 World Health Organisation (2002) World Report on Violence and Health. Geneva: World Health Organisation, and Patel, V. Rodrigues, M. & de Souza, N. (2002) Gender, poverty and post-natal depression: a cohort study from Goa, India. American Journal Psychiatry, 159:43-47, In WHO (2005) Gender in Mental Health Research. Department of Gender, Women and Health Family and Community Health. WHO Press: Geneva.
 Brownridge, D.A. (2006) Partner violence against women with disabilities: prevalence, risk and explanations. Violence Against Women, 12(9): 805-822.
 Sobsey, D. & T. Doe (1991) Patterns of sexual abuse and assault. Sexuality and Disability, 9(3): 243-259.
 Jennings, C. (2007) Access and equity equals best practice for women with disabilities experiencing violence. Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre (DVIRC), 3, Spring. Viewed 19 April 2008, www.dvrcv.org.au/
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) Australian Social Trends: women’s experience of partner violence. Australian Bureau of Statistics, Cat. No.4102.0. Viewed 12 May 2008, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/4102.02007?OpenDocument
 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2007) The health and wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: A snapshot, 2004-05. Australian Bureau of Statistics. Cat. No. 4722.0.55.001. Viewed 19 April 2008, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4722.0.55.001Main+Features12004-05?OpenDocument
 Dyson, S., Mitchell, A., Smith, A., Dowsett, G., Pitts, M. & L. Hillier (2003) Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS). Viewed 12 May 2008, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/assets/downloads/dontaskdonttell.pdf
 Hillier, L., Turner, A. & A. Mitchell (2005) Writing Themselves In Again: 6 years on. Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS). Viewed 12 May 2008, http://www.latrobe.edu.au/ssay/assets/downloads/writing_themselves_in_again.pdf