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in brief: study suggests domestic violence is widely under-reported

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Less than half of Australian women who suffer violence at the hands of men report the assaults to police, a new study suggests.

University of Western Australia Professor of Social Work Donna Chung says most statistics underestimate the real extent of male violence against women.

Her survey of statistics on violence was released on Tuesday in the lead-up to the first international White Ribbon conference in Sydney from May 13-15.

Prof Chung found that less than half of women who experience domestic violence report the assaults to police.

‘There will always be women who are understandably distressed or embarrassed about having been subjected to such violence, and as such, do not disclose or report it,’ she wrote.

Prof Chung also found only 30 per cent (18,000) of the estimated 60,000 adult sexual assaults in Australia each year are reported to police.

White Ribbon Australia Chief Executive Officer Libby Davies says the upcoming conference is timely in light of recent incidents of male violence against women.

She says at least one woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner.

Prof Chung is an expert in domestic violence in Australia, with her 2000 paper with Dale Bagshaw, ‘Women, Men and Domestic Violence,’ finding that 91.4% of cases of domestic violence were committed by men on women. It also found that 23% of women in heterosexual relationships could expect to experience physical violence from a male partner in their lifetimes.

The White Ribbon Campaign is the largest male-led organisation aimed at preventing male-on-female domestic violence in the world, and is focused on changing attitudes and behaviours in order to reduce the domestic violence rates.


By Frances Chapman

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