Fast Facts

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

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

This is one of the key findings to emerge from a national study on violence against women released 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.”

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