An intensely sobering report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed just how widespread family, domestic and sexual violence is across Australia.
One in six (1.6 million) women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while one in 16 (500,000) men have experienced the same.
Eight women and two men are hospitalised every single day due to domestic violence, according to 2014-15 data, a number that is overwhelmingly represented by Indigenous women and men, who are 32 and 23 times more likely to be hospitalised respectively.
One woman per week and one man per month is killed by a current or former partner.
Intimate partner violence is the greatest health risk factor for women ages 25-44, causing more illness, disability and deaths than any other risk factor (like smoking, alcohol use or being overweight).
Of the 1.7 million women in Australia who have experienced sexually violence, 96 percent say the perpetrator was male. The 428,800 men who have have experienced the same report an even split of men and women (44 percent and 49 percent respectively).
The Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018 report is the first comprehensive report on family, domestic and sexual violence released in Australia, bringing information together from more than 20 different data sources.
AIHW CEO Barry Sandison said that while looking at issues of violence through numbers can “depersonalise the pain and suffering that situs behind the statistics, the seriousness of these issues cannot be overstated.”
It found that Indigenous women, young women, pregnant women, women with disabilities and women experiencing financial hardships are particularly vulnerable to violence.
It also put into context the inherited burden of abuse. Children who were physically or sexually abused are three times more likely to experience domestic violence later in life. Women who witnessed domestic violence as children were more than twice as likely to be the victim of domestic violence themselves, while men were between three and four time more likely to be victims depending on whether they witness violence towards their mother or father respectively.
“We know that family, domestic and sexual violence is a major problem in Australia, but without a comprehensive source of evidence and analysis, tackling such a complex issue will continue to be difficult,” said Sandison.
Researchers estimate that in just 2015-16, the cost of violence against women and children in Australia was $22 billion.
The report highlights were more research is needed, such as around high risk groups like those with a disability or the LGBTIQ community.
If you or someone you know is dealing with issues around sexual violence or domestic or family violence, you can call 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, the Mens Helpline on 1300 78 99 78, or the Kids Helpline (ages 5 to 25) on 1800 55 1800. If you are in distress, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.