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Women who are emotionally abused are much more likely to be assaulted

Full report: Intimate partner violence against women in Australia: related factors and help-seeking behaviours (pdf, 440Kb)

Release date: Wednesday 14 December 2016

The odds of experiencing Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are nearly 20 times higher for women who have previously experienced emotional abuse [1] from a partner compared with those with no such history.

This is one of the key findings to emerge from a new national study on violence against women released today by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research (BOCSAR).

BOCSAR analysed the responses from 7,800 women across Australia who participated in the 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey (PSS). Nearly 500 (6%) of these women reported having experienced some form of IPV in the two years prior to the survey.

Women were more likely to experience IPV if they lacked support (e.g. lived in a one-parent household; were not able to access support outside the family in a crisis); had experienced emotional abuse from a current or previous partner; or were under financial stress (e.g. could not pay rent or mortgage payments on time).

Among these factors, emotional abuse had, by far, the strongest association with IPV risk.

Examining the cumulative effect of all risk factors showed that a sole parent who did not have a registered marriage experienced abuse as a child, was unable to pay the rent on time and had experienced emotional abuse by a partner had a 97% chance of experiencing IPV over the last 2 years.

Only one in three intimate partner assaults were reported to the police. Women were less likely to report an assault to the police if the perpetrator was still a current partner, the assault was sexual or if they perceived the result was not a “crime” or not “serious enough”.

Less than one in three women sought professional help following the violent incident.

Commenting on the findings, the Director of the Bureau, Dr Don Weatherburn, said the key red flags for intimate partner violence were emotional abuse by a partner, lack of social support, financial stress and having a disability or long-term health condition.

“One of the biggest impediments to reporting domestic violence is a mistaken belief among many victims that it is wrong but not a crime.”

Further enquiries: Dr Don Weatherburn 02 8346 1100
Copies of the report: www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au

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[1]  The Personal Safety Survey classifies a respondent as having suffered ‘emotional abuse’ if they answer yes to any of the following items regarding the behaviour of their current or previous partner(s):


• Stopped or tried to stop them from contacting family, friends or community
• Stopped or tried to stop them from using the telephone, Internet or family car
• Monitored their whereabouts (e.g.. constant phone calls)
• Controlled or tried to control where they went or who they saw
• Stopped or tried to stop them knowing about or having access to household money
• Stopped or tried to stop them from working or earning money
• Stopped or tried to stop them from studying
• Deprived them of basic needs such as food, shelter, sleep or assistive aids
• Damaged, destroyed or stole any of their property
• Constantly insulted them to make them feel ashamed, belittled or humiliated
• Lied to their child/ren with the intent of turning them against them
• Lied to other family members or friends with the intent of turning them against them
• Threatened to take their child/ren away from them
• Threatened to harm their child/ren
• Threatened to harm other family members or friends
• Threatened to harm any of their pets
• Harmed any of their pets
• Threatened or tried to commit suicide