Experience of violence


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Theme: Secure
Dimension: Living peacefully and feeling safe


  • Proportion of people who experienced physical violence in the last 12 months
  • Proportion of people who experienced violence by an intimate partner in the last 12 months

Why does this matter

A counterpart to feeling safe is being free from violence. Violence is an incident where a person is harmed by another person. This takes on various forms, including but not limited to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, and neglect.1

Has there been progress

In Australia, personal safety from physical violence has improved since 2005. The prevalence rate of physical violence has declined from 10.4 per cent for men and 4.7 per cent for women in 2005 to 6.1 per cent and 2.9 per cent respectively in 2021–22.

Violence by an intimate partner (physical and/or sexual), is more commonly experienced by women and impacts many aspects of wellbeing. The rate of intimate partner violence was 2.3 per cent in 2005 and 1.5 per cent in 2021‑22 for women.

The impact of COVID‑19 lockdowns should be taken into consideration when comparing the years and assessing the trends. Prior to 2021, the rates for intimate partner violence have remained stable and remains a continual issue in Australian society.

Emotional abuse by a cohabiting partner was experienced at a greater rate for women (3.9 per cent) than men (2.5 per cent) in 2021–22. Prior to the COVID‑19 pandemic (between 2012 and 2016), the prevalence rate has remained stable for women and increased for men.

The COVID‑19 pandemic may have introduced new and unique stressors into people’s lives and may have exacerbated risk or vulnerability.

A 2021 Australian Criminology Institute study found that the COVID‑19 pandemic has ‘coincided’ with increases in the first‑time violence, frequency, and severity of violence. They found that around 3 in 5 women reported experiencing physical violence (57.1 per cent), sexual violence (61.1 per cent) or emotional abuse, harassing or controlling behaviours (66.2 per cent) for the first time or an escalation in the frequency and severity of ongoing violence.2

1 (ABS) Australian Bureau of Statistics (2020‑21) Personal Safety, Australia methodology ABS website, accessed 28 June 2023.

2 Boxall, H., & Morgan, A. (2021) Intimate partner violence during the COVID-19 pandemic: A survey of women in Australia (Research report, 03/2021), ANROWS, accessed 7 July 2023.

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