A community free from family violence, where everyone feels safe.
Family Violence Myths and Misconceptions
Although our understanding of family violence has come a long way, there are many common misconceptions and myths, often communicated as fact. These need to be challenged if we are to prevent violence against women and children and achieve gender equity in society.
The most commonly held family violence misconceptions relate to its cause. Often, people think family violence is linked to factors such as:
- Drug and alcohol abuse
- Mental health issues
- Cultural and religious customs/beliefs
- Family background
- Stress and anger management issues
- Unemployment and/or low socioeconomic status
None of these factors cause family violence. Quite simply, family violence is a choice. There is no excuse for it. While some of the above factors can increase the frequency and severity of violence, the decision to use violence is a choice made by the perpetrator to exert power and control over another person.
Another commonly held misconception is that intimate partner abuse against men and women occur at equal rates. Research from the 2012 ABS Personal Safety Survey and Australian Institute of Criminology indicates that family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly committed by men against women. Their research shows that, from the age of 15:
- 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical abuse from a current or former partner
- 1 in 5 have experienced sexual violence
- 1 in 4 have experienced emotional abuse
- 1 in 6 have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner
- 36% of women experienced physical or sexual violence from someone they know
- 15% of women experienced physical or sexual violence from an ex-partner
- 62% of women experienced physical assault by a male perpetrator.
Family violence is not restricted to certain groups of people. It can happen to anyone at any point in their lives. It is important to recognise this and understand that responding to and preventing family violence requires a ‘whole of community’ effort – it is everyone’s responsibility.
Family violence and homicide
Data from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP) shows that from 2002-12, one-quarter of all (654) homicide incidents involved intimate partners. The majority of victims (488, or 75%) of intimate partner homicides were women, and the majority of perpetrators (503, or 77%) were men.
Data from the Victorian Systemic Review of Family Violence Deaths (VSRFVD) shows that between 2000 and 2010, 136 out of 288 family violence-related homicides involved an intimate relationship (i.e. partners or ex-partners). Of these, 73% involved male perpetrators, with a known history of family violence in 60% of cases.