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Types of violence against women

4 minute read

Men are most likely to experience violence in a public place, by a male stranger.1 Women are most likely to experience violence in their homes, by a male partner– this is known as ‘domestic violence’ or ‘family violence’. 

Domestic violence 

Domestic violence involves someone making their partner afraid by abusing them, over time, in order to control them. This is what differentiates it from violence between partners that is ‘one off’ or ‘goes both ways’. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, financial, technological, social and spiritual abuse. While men also experience it, domestic violence is mostly perpetrated by men against women.3

  • Since the age of 15, approximately one in four women and one in 13 men have experienced violence from a partner. 4
  • Women are more likely to feel fear as a result of partner violence.5
  • Women are more likely than men to be killed by a partner. In Australia, from 2010-2014, 121 women were killed by male partners (current or former). In this same period, 28 men were killed by female partners.*6
A dark haired woman and a girl embrace each other. There is a greenery in the background.

Family violence

Family violence is a broader term than domestic violence – it refers not only to violence between partners, but also to violence between family members, including child and elder abuse.^ Family violence is mostly perpetrated by men against women and children. 

  • Around one in six girls and one in 10  boys has experienced abuse before the age of 15.7
  • More than twice as many children experienced abuse from their father or stepfather as from their mother or stepmother.8 

Sexual violence and harassment 

Women and children also experience violence outside their homes, including sexual violence and harassment. Around one in four sexual assaults are perpetrated by a stranger.9

  • Since the age of 15, one in five women and one in 20 men has experienced sexual violence.+10
  • Since the age of 15, around one in two women and one in four men has experienced sexual harassment.11
  • The vast majority of perpetrators of sexual violence and harassment are men.12
  • The majority of child sexual abuse is perpetrated by non-familial known men, including male foster carers, family friends, neighbours, doctors, teachers and religious leaders.13

Non-physical forms of abuse

Non-physical forms of abuse can be part of domestic violence and family violence. Non-physical forms of abuse can include:

  • emotional and psychological abuse
  • social abuse
  • financial and economic abuse
  • technological abuse
  • spiritual abuse
  • stalking.

Perpetrators may use a range of non-physical abusive behaviours to manipulate, coerce, control, threaten and harm women and children. Women and their children report that non-physical forms of abuse can be of equal or greater impact than physical violence.

All forms of abuse can have significant and long-term health and wellbeing, economic and social impacts on women and children.

How discrimination affects violence

Not all women experience violence in the same way. Alongside gender inequality women can experience many other forms of oppression and discrimination, such as racism, ageism, ableism and homophobia.

All these forms of discrimination and inequality can play a role in driving or exacerbating violence against women.

Read more about the social context for violence against women and the drivers of violence here.

What's next?

The media's role in prevention violence against women