Letting the data tell a story on violence against women

ANROWS has released a new report detailing the extent of violence against women in Australia. Below, Dr Peta Cox provides an overview. We urge you to read the full report at www.anrows.org.au/PSS

For a summary of the report and infographics for download, go to: http://anrows.org.au/publications/compass/PSS

Australia’s most authoritative and robust quantitative survey of interpersonal violence is produced by the Australian Bureau of Statistics every four years. For the most recent Personal Safety Survey (2012), more than 17,000 women and men participated in face-to-face interviews.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has recently published a significant new analysis of the PSS. The report itself provides a detailed analysis of the available data. The story of Jane comes from some of the key findings of the report. Her story shows how the data helps us to understand women’s complex experiences of violence.

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Introducing Jane…

Jane is like one in four women in Australia in that she has experienced at least one incident of violence by a partner she may or may not have been living with.

Jane had a good start in life, and like two-thirds of women who eventually experienced partner violence from a partner she lived with, she did not experience abuse as a child.

Jane is now 28 years old, meaning that she is in the age range (25-34 years) with the highest rate of partner violence. Her risk of sexual assault is statistically equivalent to the national average.

Jane has been in her relationship with David for a few years and the relationship has been rocky for the last year and a half. The first time David hit her was about a year ago – this means that, like eight out of ten women who have experienced violence in the last 12 months by a partner they live with, she has been physically assaulted by her current partner.

Jane is also like approximately 40% of women who have experienced violence by a partner, in that David had sexually assaulted her. Similar to about a quarter of a million other women in Australia, her most recent sexual assault by her cohabiting partner happened in her home.

Like one in eleven women who had experienced violence by a partner they were living with, Jane’s most recent incident of violence happened in the last year – in her case it was a sexual assault a few weeks ago. Jane got in contact with the police about this incident, which, as a woman who had experienced more than one incident of violence, she was more likely to do.

Jane was in the minority, in that, like only a third of women, she believed that this most recent sexual assault was a crime. Resembling 60% of women who thought this, she chose to contact police. However, like most women in her situation, her partner was not charged.

Jane first told a friend about the assault – and in this she was consistent with about half of women who had experienced cohabiting partner sexual assault who first spoke to a friend, family member, work colleague or minister of religion. Jane wasn’t like the one in five women who never told anyone about this type of sexual assault. Like one in four women, she sought advice and support from her GP or health professional.

Since her assault, Jane has been feeling anxiety – this is like three quarters of women who were sexually assaulted by their cohabiting partner and like two thirds of women who had been sexually assaulted by a stranger.
If Jane decides to leave David, she is likely to have several temporary separations prior to the final separation. If asked about why she returned, she would probably say that it was because David promised to stop the violence and because of her commitment to the relationship. When she does leave for the final time, and like seven out of ten women in a similar situation, she leaves assets or property behind.