The big picture

Wondering why this website talks so much about violence in relationships? In Australia, relationship violence is a serious issue and it happens far too much. The good news is that we can stop it before it starts.

A vintage map of Australia

In Victoria, interpersonal violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in women between the ages of 15 and 44 (VicHealth 2004) – more than alcohol or drug use, and more than obesity.

Dark alley or lounge room?

When we think about violence the image that comes to mind is the knife wielding stranger leaping from a dark alley. But the statistics on violence against women paint a very different picture. The last Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS 2006) found that 64% of women who have experienced some form of assault since turning 15 had experienced that assault in their own home.

Women more likely to experience violence

The Personal Safety Survey showed that women were more likely than men to experience violence in a relationship. Since the age of 15, 16 % of women experienced violence by a current or previous partner, compared to 5.8 % of men. For women the violence often happened more than once.

Also, women were much more likely than men to have experienced sexual violence. Since the age of 15, 19 % of women experienced sexual violence compared to 5.5 % of men.

Scary stranger or someone you know very well?

The most common perpetrator of the violence was a current or former partner.

The second most common perpetrator was a male family member or friend.

For the women who were interviewed for the Personal Safety Survey, it was the men that they should be able to trust the most who chose to use violence against them.

Family violence is something we don’t like to talk about. The Personal Safety Survey brings to light an uncomfortable truth that flies in the face of what we think a family should be.

For some women, the street is a safer place than their own home.

A complete stranger may be a safer person to be around than their partner.

Violence in relationships happens behind closed doors and the shame experienced by victims often prevents them from speaking out about what’s happening. So it’s up to us to talk about it, to raise awareness, to demonstrate our support for women in this situation and to make it clear to the men responsible that violence is unacceptable.


Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2006a) Personal Safety Survey Australia 2005 (Reissue), Catalogue no. 4906.0, ABS, Canberra. Available at

VicHealth (2004) The Health Costs of Violence: Measuring the burden of disease caused by intimate partner violence, Vichealth, Melbourne. Available at

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