• Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4510.0 - Recorded Crime - Victims, Australia, 2017.

    Victims of Domestic and Family Violence-Related Offences

    This chapter presents experimental data about victims of selected Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) –related offences. Victims of selected offences have been determined to be FDV–related where the relationship of offender to victim, as stored on police recording systems, falls within a specified family or domestic relationship or where an FDV flag has been recorded, following a police investigation.

    Key findings include:

    • FDV-related homicide victims accounted for over a third of total homicide victims, and females accounted for over half of all FDV-related homicide victims.
    • FDV-related assault is mostly likely to occur in the age range 25-34 years; and, across all states and territories, females are more likely than males to be victims – at least three times as likely, and up to six times more likely.
    • FDV-related sexual assault accounted for over a third of total sexual assaults and there are six times as many female victims as male victims.
  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Personal Safety, Australia, 2016, ABS cat no. 4906.0 (2016).

    This release presents information from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ (ABS) 2016 Personal Safety Survey (PSS).

    The survey collected detailed information from men and women about their experiences of violence since the age of 18, as well as experiences of current and previous partner violence, stalking, physical and sexual abuse and harassment, abuse before the age of 15, and general feelings of safety.

    • One in five women (18% or 1.7 million) and one in twenty men (4.7% or 428,800) experienced sexual violence (see Table 3);
    • Women were nearly three times more likely to have experienced partner violence than men, with approximately one in six women (17% or 1.6 million) and one in sixteen men (6.1% or 547,600) having experienced partner violence since the age of 15 (see Table 3);
    • One in six women (16% or 1.5 million) and one in seventeen men (5.9% or 528,800) experienced physical violence by a partner (see Table 3);
    • Women were eight times more likely to experience sexual violence by a partner than men (5.1% or 480,200 women compared to 0.6% or 53,000 men) (see Table 3 );
    • One in four women (23% or 2.2 million) and one in six men (16% or 1.4 million) reported experiencing emotional abuse by a current and/or previous partner since the age of 15 (see Table 27);
    • Women were more likely to experience fear or anxiety resulting from their experiences of partner violence than men (see Table 20).
  • Australian Domestic and Family Violence Death Review Network, Data Report 2018 (May 2018).

    This report provides data on intimate partner homicides occurring between 2010 and 2014 in Australia, and aims to inform prevention initiatives. Key data findings include:

    • There were 152 intimate partner homicides which followed a history of domestic violence in Australia during the study period (p 9);
    • The majority of intimate-partner homicides involved a male killing his current or former female partner (p 10);
    • Actual or intended separation was present in over half of cases where men killed their female partners (p 12), but only in around 40 percent of female perpetrated homicides (p 21);
    • Almost one quarter of men who killed their female partners were named in Domestic Violence Orders protecting the female victims (p 13), and one quarter of women who killed their male partners were protected by a Domestic Violence Order naming the homicide victim as the respondent (p 22);
    • In most cases where a female killed her male partner, she was the primary victim of violence and killed her abuser (p 19);
    • The most common outcome for men who killed their partners was a murder conviction (p 16), while the most common outcome for women was a manslaughter conviction (p 24);
    • Over 20 percent of men who killed their intimate partners died by suicide (p 16);
    • Almost 20 percent of men who killed their female partners (p 14), and around half of women who killed their male partners, identified as Aboriginal (p 22);
    In cases where men killed their female partners and were also domestic violence abusers, most had previously used physical, emotional and/or social abuse against the victim (pp 26-8).
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia (Report, 2018).

    This report usefully compiles and summarises current statistics on family violence, domestic violence and sexual violence from multiple sources. Its key points are:

    • women are at greater risk of family, domestic and sexual violence;
    • some groups of women are more vulnerable to all three types of violence (in particular, women who are Indigenous, young, pregnant, separating from a partner or experiencing financial hardship and women with disability);
    • children are often exposed to the violence;
    • the three types of violence are leading causes of homelessness and adverse health consequences for women and create significant financial cost; and
    • family violence is worse for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

    The report also identifies important gaps in the current research on family, domestic and sexual violence. No or limited data is available on:

    • children’s experiences, including attitudes, prevalence, severity, frequency, impacts and outcomes of these forms of violence;
    • specific at-risk population groups, including Indigenous Australians, people with disability, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people, including those in same-sex relationships;
    • the effect of known risk factors, such as socioeconomic status, employment, income and geographical location;
    • services and responses that victims and perpetrators receive, including specialist services, mainstream services and police and justice responses;
    • pathways, impacts and outcomes for victims and perpetrators; and
    • the evaluation of programs and interventions.
  • Australian Law Reform Commission and New South Wales Law Reform Commission, Family Violence – A National Legal Response, Report 114 (2010).

    This report identified that it was provided with gendered terms of reference. It observed: ‘The Terms of Reference are clearly gendered in their focus on women and children; and they have a particular lens—family violence. The National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children acknowledged that while women as well as men can commit—as well as be victims of—family violence or sexual assault, the research shows that ‘the overwhelming majority of violence and abuse is perpetrated by men against women’ (p3). It noted ‘[t]he biggest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault and/or domestic and family violence is being a woman’.4 The suite of recommendations presented in this Report, however, are directed towards reforming legal frameworks with the aim of improving the safety of all victims of family violence—the effect will be to the benefit of all victims, whether male or female.’ (p51)

    The report notes that sexual violence is strongly gendered with many more women reported as experiencing sexual violence than men ([24.23];p26). When women and children are sexually assaulted, the perpetrator is likely to be someone well known to them, a current or former partner or family member ([24.23];p27). While all women and children may be at risk of sexual violence, some are more vulnerable than others, including young women, Indigenous women, women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD), and women with disabilities.’ (p1103)
  • Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. Violence against women: Accurate use of key statistics (ANROWS, 2018).

    This ‘Key Facts’ sheet prevents an overview of statistics sourced primarily from research from the 2016 ABS Personal Safety Survey and Australian Institute of Criminology. It identifies for example that in Australia:

    • women are significantly more likely than men to experience domestic and family violence;
    • Approximately one quarter of women have experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner;
    • On average, one woman a week is killed by her intimate partner;
    • Women are most likely to experience physical assault in their home;
    • Just over 9 out of 10 women reported that their last incident of physical assault by a male was perpetrated by a man they know (most commonly a former partner);
    • Just under 9 out of 10 women reported that their last incident of sexual assault was perpetrated by a man they know (most commonly a former partner); and
    • Of women who have experienced violence by a current partner since the age of 15, 82% had never contacted the police.
  • This report notes that, ‘[e]xposure to intimate partner violence (IPV) has serious health outcomes for Australian women and their children, and its prevention is a recognised national priority. Burden of disease studies measure the combined impact of living with illness and injury (non-fatal burden) and dying prematurely (fatal burden) on a population. This report estimated the amount of burden that could have been avoided if no adult women in Australia in 2011 had been exposed to IPV during their lifetime. This “attributable burden” is reported in terms of total, non-fatal and fatal burden’ (p.7).

    Key results for national estimates of burden:

    • ‘Overall, it was estimated that 1.4% of the disease burden experienced by women aged 18 years and over in 2011 was attributable to physical/sexual IPV by a current or previous cohabiting partner. Anxiety disorders made up the greatest proportion of this attributable burden (35%), followed by depressive disorders (32%) and suicide & self-inflicted injuries (19%) (Figure 5.1). More than one-quarter (27%) of this burden was fatal (Figure 5.2)’.
    • ‘Physical/sexual IPV was responsible for almost half (45%) of the total burden due to homicide & violence among adult women in 2011 (Figure 5.3)’.
    • ‘When the definition of IPV was broadened to include physical/ sexual IPV by non-cohabiting partners, it was estimated that 2% of the burden experienced by Australian adult women could have been avoided if no exposure to IPV occurred. When emotional abuse was also considered, it was estimated that 2.2% of all burden experienced by adult women was due to IPV (Table 5.5) and could have been avoided if no exposure to IPV occurred’ (p.7).
    It notes that there has been little change in the rate of burden between 2003 and 2011.
  • Bagshaw, Dale, and Donna Chung, Women, Men and Domestic Violence (Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Cth) and University of South Australia, 2000).

    Discusses research over the past two decades in Australia and notes it has shown that violence generally, and particularly domestic violence, is mainly carried out by men.(p1) While there is evidence that both men and women are abusive in domestic relationships, most data show that men are more likely than women to be violent towards their partners. It reviews the findings of research and notes that these differ greatly according to the way the research is done, but they clearly show that the nature and results of men’s violence are different to that of women’s violence in a number of significant ways. In particular: men’s violence is more severe, and more likely to inflict severe injury; women are more likely to be killed by current or former male partners than by anyone else; and less than 10% of Australian male homicides are carried out by an intimate partner. When women do kill their male partners, there is a history of domestic violence in more than 70% of cases.’ (p1)

    Specifically in relation to female perpetrators of domestic violence, the authors note on p13 that ‘Although there is some evidence that both men and women engage in abusive behaviour in heterosexual relationships, the nature and consequence of women’s violence is not equivalent to men’s violence [in a number of ways]’, including severity, likelihood of being killed, and reasons for the violence.
  • Belknap, Joanne, and Heather Melton, ‘Are Heterosexual Men Also Victims of Intimate Partner Abuse?’ (Research Paper, Applied Research Forum: National Electronic Network on Violence Against Women, March 2005).
    This paper presents and discusses the varied findings on women’s roles as perpetrators of intimate partner abuse (IPA). The reasons for these varied findings are examined and the implications of the research finding of gender symmetry in the perpetration of IPA are discussed. This paper documents the importance of the approach taken by the researcher regarding whether IPA is found to be gendered. This overview of scientific research concludes that IPA is indeed gendered, that the perpetrators are more commonly men and the victims are more commonly women. This review also emphasises the importance of not simply examining types of abuse reported, but the consequences of the abuse.
  • Bruton, Crystal and Danielle Tyson, ‘Leaving Violent Men: A Study of Women’s Experiences of Separation in Victoria, Australia’ (2017) Australian & New Zealand Journal of Criminology (onlinefirst).

    This article explores women’s experiences of leaving abusive relationships and seeks to combat assumptions about the nature of such relationships through in-depth interviews with 12 women who had separated from their male intimate partners (p 5). While separation is broadly recognised as a key time for increased risk of violence towards women and their children (p 1), studies demonstrate that most people believe women are able to leave violent relationships, and do not understand why they might stay (p 2). Such views place the responsibility for ending the violence on women, but in reality, these relationships often include complex circumstances, and the ‘stay/leave binary’ is rarely applicable (p 2). The results indicate that women’s experiences of coercive control significantly affected their decision-making in the context of separation (p 6):

    • Many women feared leaving because they were aware that separation may provoke retaliatory violence, with some experiencing an escalation of abusive behaviour when they attempted to leave (p 7);
    • Many women were motivated to leave the relationship in order to protect their children, especially where violence became directed towards the children (p 8);
    • Women’s attempts to leave their relationships were often hindered by their partner’s control over their finances (p 9); and
    • Women adopted strategies to manage their safety both during and following separation (pp 9-10), and many women experienced escalating violence after separation (pp 11-12).
  • Cusson, Tracy, and Willow Bryant, Domestic / Family Homicide in Australia (Research in Practice No 38, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2015).

    This report presents data for the period 1 July 2002 through 30 June 2012 collected in part from the Australian Institute of Criminology’s National Homicide Monitoring Program (NHMP).

    • Over the ten-year period to 30 June 2012, 1,088 (41%) homicides were classified as domestic/family homicides and involved 1,158 victims and 1,184 offenders.(p1)
    • Intimate partners accounted for 23 percent of all homicide victims recorded within the NHMP since 1 July 2003. (p1)
    • Females were typically the victims in intimate partner homicides (n=488; 75%) (p2)
  • Day, Andrew, Sharon Casey, Adam Gerace, Candice Oster and Deb O’Kane, The forgotten victims: prisoner experience of victimisation and engagement with the criminal justice system – Research report (ANROWS, 2018).

    The following summarises the key aspects of this research report:


    Many women in prison have experienced intimate partner violence. As this form of violence is often intergenerational and entrenched, women in prison are widely considered to be at particular risk of ongoing victimisation following release from custody. And yet, their support needs often go unrecognised, and it is likely that a range of barriers exists that prevent ex-prisoners from accessing services.


    This research documents data from interviews with and surveys of 22 women incarcerated in Adelaide Women’s Prison, as well as interviews with 12 key South Australian agencies and service providers, to arrive at an understanding of help-seeking behaviour and how this might inform service responses. The analysis is positioned within a review of current help-seeking theories that highlight how a wide range of individual, socio-cultural and structural factors can complicate a woman’s decision to seek help when concerned for her personal safety, noting that the circumstances and personal histories of women in prison increase the barriers to effective help-seeking when they face violence following release.

    Key observations

    • The interviews with the women prisoners revealed their:
      • lack of awareness of when they should seek external support
      • lack of knowledge of available services
      • pervasive sense of mistrust and under-confidence in existing services
      • sense that better approaches can be developed drawing on the strengths of women, their peers and families.
    • Women’s experience of formal and informal support-seeking (positive and negative) often determine how they define intimate partner violence and whether they decide to seek to change their circumstances.
    • Agencies and service providers expressed a range of views about the services that should be made available to women leaving prison, and these views were commonly shared by the women prisoners interviewed. It was acknowledged by both groups that services are not always visible or accessible to the women. There was also no sense that any integrated pathway for identifying and managing risk currently exists.


    • Need identified for all jurisdictions: to clearly identify women in prison as a particularly vulnerable group who are likely to be at elevated risk of ongoing victimisation and intimate partner violence and who face significant barriers preventing them from accessing the types of services that may help them to keep safe; and take a specialised and integrated approach in addressing their needs. Successful models of reintegration are discussed.
    • Need identified for people with lived experience of incarceration to be part of the service framework (design, delivery and goverance) in the community sector.
    • Need identified for services and programs to reflect an understanding of the role violence in the lives of people who seek help (ie trauma-informed care)


    This research did not make conclusions about different cohorts of women prisoners having specific needs, for example women from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural backgrounds.
  • A working paper on analysis of gender and relationship between victims and perpetrators. This paper is a work in progress with ongoing updates. The purpose of this paper is to run a parallel analysis of female and male victims of family related violence reported in the ABS PSS. [Page 11] It was found that of all adult victims of violence by a current or ex de-facto partner, 76% were women who had experienced violence by a male partner, 22% were men who had experienced violence by a female partner and 2% were women and men victimised by a same sex partner (Note: due to the way the PSS collects data, a very small number of women and men may be double-counted across same-sex and opposite sex perpetrator categories).
  • Felson, Richard B, and Alison C Cares, ‘Gender and the Seriousness of Assaults on Intimate Partners and Other Victims’ (2005) 67(5) Journal of Marriage and Family 1182.
    This study examines assaults committed by male and female intimate partners. The authors note that analyses of the Unites States National Violence Against Women and Men Survey (N =6,480) show that, in general, gender effects do not depend on the victim's relationship to the offender. Regardless of their relationship (a) men cause more injuries; (b) women suffer more injuries although their injuries tend to be less severe; (c) victims are more fearful of male offenders but only if the offenders are unarmed; and (d) men are particularly likely to precipitate assaults by other men, not their female partners. Violent husbands do assault with particularly high frequency but so do women who assault family members.’
  • Flood, Michael, ‘The Debate Over Men’s Versus Women’s Family Violence’ (Paper presented at Australian Institute of Judicial Administration Family Violence Conference, Adelaide, 23-24 February, 2006).
    Identifies differences between men’s and women’s typical patterns of victimisation, it notes that while men are often the victims of violence, they are most at risk from other men. This paper provides a concise, but comprehensive overview of the literature contributing to conflicting arguments around perpetration of domestic or family violence by men and women.
  • Henry, Nicola, Asher Flynn and Anastasia Powell, Image-based sexual abuse: Victims and perpetrators (Australian Institute of Criminology Report No. 572 March 2019).

    Report abstract:

    Image-based sexual abuse (IBSA) refers to the non-consensual creation, distribution or threatened distribution of nude or sexual images. This research examines the prevalence, nature and impacts of IBSA victimisation and perpetration in Australia. This form of abuse was found to be relatively common among respondents surveyed and to disproportionately affect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, people with a disability, homosexual and bisexual people and young people. The nature of victimisation and perpetration was found to differ by gender, with males more likely to perpetrate IBSA, and females more likely to be victimised by a partner or ex-partner.
  • Kristin Natalier, ‘State Facilitated Economic Abuse: A Structural Analysis of Men Deliberately Withholding Child Support’ (2018) 26 Feminist Legal Studies 121-140.
    Economic abuse is a widespread and damaging aspect of intimate partner violence (IPV). Although research has mainly addressed cohabiting couples, women’s long-term experiences after separation are seldom explored, and researchers have not developed a gendered analysis of child support-related economic abuse. Interviews with 37 single mothers were conducted to determine how men’s deliberate withholding of child support can constitute economic abuse, which may be facilitated through gendered State processes and institutions that order child support transfers. The author argues that the State may facilitate gendered abuse through the design and implementation of the Australian Child Support Program (CSP). Child support-related economic abuse is not the result of a failed system. Instead, it reflects the role of the CSP as regulating, rather than preventing, economic abuse. Findings showed that women participants understood that the withholding of child support by their former partners was a means to control their acquisition and use of money, and undermined their economic security and autonomy. On this basis, women experienced their former partner’s behaviours as post-separation economic abuse which, in turn, was normalised and intensified through the CSP policy.
  • This study involved 16,761 participants in the Australian Longitudinal study on Women’s Health, using six waves of survey data over 16 years. It found that women who had experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) reported poorer mental and physical health throughout their lives (p5). Compared with women who had never experienced IPV, women who have experienced IPV endure poorer physical health throughout their lives (p6). Women who have experienced IPV consistently ranked approximately 5 points lower on the SF-36 scale (a measurement of quality of life out of 100). Women who experience IPV also have poorer mental health throughout their lives (p6). They rank between 5 and 10 points lower throughout their lives (p 8).
  • Mansour, Julia, Women Defendants to AVOS: What is their experience of the justice system? (Women’s Legal Services NSW, 2014).

    Women’s Legal Services NSW (‘WLS’) undertook an exploratory study of its 2010 experience of representing women who were defendants to Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (‘AVO’) proceedings in order to better understand what to be a growing phenomenon. The research was limited by a number of factors and is not a random sample of all NSW cases. However the results illustrate some of the systemic issues experienced by women AVO defendants’. These results were:

    • Two-thirds of women clients defending AVOs reported that they were the victims of violence in their relationships.
    • ‘Many of the women defending AVOs reported that when police had been called after a violent incident, they felt that their version of events had not been viewed as credible compared with the other party, due to the circumstances of their heightened stress and anxiety’.
    • ‘Other women reported that they believed the other party had deliberately initiated AVO proceedings as a further mechanism of controlling their behaviour, by giving them the ability to threaten them with reports to police in the future’.
    • ‘In the majority of cases where women were defending AVOs, the other party's complaint related to a single incident only. In several of these cases injuries to the other party could be indicative of self-defence, such as scratching or biting on the arm or hand’ (page 4).
    The report suggests (1) improved data collection (2) the Bureau of Crimes Statistics and Research undertake a separate project into the experience of women defendants to AVOs (3) the NSW Police strengthen policies and procedures around identifying the ‘primary victim’ and provide continuous training on the dynamics of family violence (4) the NSW government take into account the findings of this report in its reforms (page 4).
  • Mouzos, Jenny, and Toni Makkai, ‘Women's Experience of Male Violence: Findings from the Australian Component of the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS)’ (Research and Public Policy Series No 56, Australian Institute of Criminology, 2004).
    Examines data collected from the International Violence Against Women Survey (IVAWS) conducted across Australia between December 2002 and June 2003. A total of 6,677 women aged between 18 and 69 years participated in the survey, and provided information on their experiences of physical and sexual violence. Relevant findings include that over a third of women who had a current or former intimate partner reported experiencing at least one form of violence during the lifetime. The levels of violence experienced from a former partner were much higher than from a current partner. Women who experienced violence from former partners were also more likely to sustain injuries and feel that their lives were in danger (p3).
  • Murray, Suellen, and Anastasia Powell, ‘“What’s the Problem?” Australian Public Policy Constructions of Domestic and Family Violence’ (2009) 15(5) Violence Against Women 532.
    Discusses the framing of domestic violence (from p539) and notes that: ‘a gender-based framework of violence against women recognizes that domestic violence occurs within the wider context of social disadvantage and inequality experienced by women relative to men, which, for some women, means that their vulnerability is heightened. Women are more likely to be economically dependent than men, with women typically having the care of children. Furthermore, women are more likely than men to fear violence from their partner. Domestic violence reflects gender relations and also contributes to the construction of ideas and practices about gender, further enforcing gender relations (p539). References other research and notes that gender always intersects with age, sexuality, ethnicity, and the range of social categories (p540).
    • ‘While both women and men can be perpetrators and/or victims of sexual assault and domestic and family violence, research shows that the overwhelming majority of violence and abuse is perpetrated by men against women’ (p25).
    • ‘The biggest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault and/or domestic and family violence is being a woman’ (p26).
  • This report is focused on health outcomes associated with intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence has wide-ranging and persistent effects on women’s physical and mental health. It contributes 8 per cent to the total disease burden in Victorian women aged 15–44 and 3 per cent in all Victorian women. It is the leading preventable contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15–44, being responsible for more of the disease burden than many well-known risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity’ (p10).
  • This resource provides a summary of Examination of the burden of disease of intimate partner violence against women in 2011: Final report. There is an excellent fact sheet on pp.2-4 with an overview of the most recent statistics on the burden on the health of women and their children of intimate partner violence (IPV). An overview of the key findings is available at p.7 of the report. Some of these findings about intimate partner violence (IPV) are that:

    • IPV affects one in three women (since the age of 15)
    • IPV has serious impacts on women’s health including poor mental health, problems during pregnancy and birth, alcohol and illicit drug use, suicide, injuries and homicide.
    • IPV contributes an estimated 5.1% to the disease burden in Australian women aged 18-44 years. More than one quarter (27%) of this burden is fatal.
    • IPV contributes an estimated 2.2% of the burden in women of all ages.
    • Physical/sexual IPV was responsible for almost half (45%) of the total burden due to homicide and violence among adult women in 2011 (see p 21).
  • Webster, Kim, Diemer, K., Honey, N., Mannix, S., Mickle, J., Morgan, J., … Ward, A, Australians’ attitudes to violence against women and gender equality. Findings from the 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (NCAS)(ANROWS, 2018).

    In 2017, ANROWS administered the National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey (2017 NCAS), a survey aiming to help understand attitudes toward violence against women, what influences those attitudes, and if there have been changes to those attitudes over time. One of the key studied themes is attitudes toward consent for sexual activity.

    The 2017 NCAS shows the pervasiveness of concerning attitudes toward consent, such as (pp 11-12):

    • 31 percent of respondents agreed that “a lot of times”, women who say they were raped had “led the man on and then had regrets”;
    • 42 percent agreed that sexual assault accusations are commonly used to get back at a man;
    • 23 percent agreed that women find it flattering to be pursued, even if they are not interested;
    • 12 percent still agree that women “often” say no when they mean yes;
    • 28 percent believed that when a man is very sexually aroused, he may not realise that a women doesn’t want to have sex;
    • 33 percent agreed that rape results from men not being able to control their need for sex; and
    • 19 percent still do not agree that rape in marriage is a crime (p 6).

    The 2017 NCAS also investigated whether or not Australians would justify non-consensual sex in different circumstances. The survey found that few Australians believed a man would be justified if he tried to have sex with a woman he was kissing after she had pushed him away. However, the proportion of Australians justifying the behaviour was greater in the scenario in which the woman had taken the man into the bedroom and started kissing him before pushing him away (p 13).

    The findings show that a concerning number of Australians are unclear about what constitutes consent, and the line between consensual sex and coercion. The report states that “gendered power dynamics, expectations and stereotypes related to sexuality influence how consent is understood and negotiated” (for example, men as aggressive and women as submissive) (p 13).


  • Cercone, Jennifer J, Steven RH Beach and IIleana Arias, ‘Gender Symmetry in Dating Intimate Partner Violence: Does Similar Behavior Imply Similar Constructs?’ (2005) 20(2) Violence and Victims 207.

    Abstract: ‘The present study examined the extent to which there is gender symmetry in the topography and experience of dating intimate partner violence (IPV). Self-report data were collected from 450 undergraduate men and women at a large Southeastern university. Perpetration and victimization rates were examined, as were context, function, and experience of fear. Results support the view that dating IPV is generally symmetrical at a topographical level, although significantly more women than men reported perpetration of severe physical assault. However, gender asymmetries were found in the context, function, and experience of fear. These findings suggest that gender-sensitive approaches are crucial to the understanding of dating IPV. ‘

    • Although finding high rates of physical violence perpetrated by women in the study, this article notes on p 215 that the findings ‘make it unlikely that women’s use of violence served to exert control over their partners’ due to the correlation of women’s victimisation with perpetration, whereas men’s violence had low correlation with victimisation suggesting men’s violence is less likely to be defensive or bilateral.
  • Charlotte Barlow and Siobhan Weare, ‘Women as Co-Offenders: Pathways into Crime and Offending Motivations’ (2019) 58(1) The Howard Journal of Crime and Justice 86-103.
    This article examines a qualitative study in the UK which aimed to investigate co-offending women’s pathways into, and motivations for engaging in, criminal behaviour. It considers not only the impact of co-offending relationships on women’s criminality, but also factors which intersect with these relationships in their lives. Interviews with eight women who accessed a women’s advice and support centre were conducted. Findings showed that while co-offending relationships were a central pathway into offending, this often intersected with other circumstances in the women’s lives, including drug addiction, socio-economic circumstances, and ‘significant life events’. Moreover, women who co-offended with female friends were more likely to acknowledge their agency than those who co-offended with intimate male partners. Findings also demonstrated the significance of understanding the complex nature of the lives co-offending women, and the decision-making process.
  • Dobash, Russell P, and R. Emerson Dobash, ‘Women’s Violence to Men in Intimate Relationships: Working on a Puzzle’ (2004) 44 (3) British Journal of Criminology 324.

    Abstract: ‘We present quantitative and qualitative findings from 190 interviews with 95 couples in which men and women reported separately upon their own violence and upon that of their partner. Men's and women's violence are compared. The findings suggest that intimate partner violence is primarily an asymmetrical problem of men's violence to women, and women's violence does not equate to men's in terms of frequency, severity, consequences and the victim's sense of safety and wellbeing.

    This article provides an overview of the debate between family violence research, and violence against women research, in relation to the symmetry of violence by men and women.

    • Findings from the study establish some general patterns, including that ‘First, regardless of who is reporting, it can be seen that many more men inflict every type of injury against women than do women against men’ (p337), and ‘Overall, the couples agree that the injuries inflicted by women upon men are less frequent and less severe’ (pp338). It goes on to discuss the context of women’s violence against male partners, including self-defence.
  • Epstein, Deborah, and Lisa A Goodman, ‘Discounting Credibility: Doubting the Testimony and Dismissing the Experiences of Domestic Violence Survivors and Other Women’ (2018) 167 University of Pennsylvania Law Review (forthcoming).

    This article addresses the ways in which the credibility of female victims of intimate partner violence is discounted through their experiences of legal and social services (pp 3-4). The authors conclude that women’s experiences are frequently discounted, which itself can have further traumatic impacts. Judges and other professionals often discount women’s stories of abuse as implausible, particularly where the victims suffer from psychological trauma that may impact memory and comprehension (p 7). Women who suffer traumatic brain injuries (pp 9-11) or PTSD (pp 11-3) as a result of domestic violence are particularly susceptible to relaying inconsistent stories. The authors also find that cultural assumptions resulting in the prioritisation of physical over psychological violence causes judges and other authority figures to expect ‘real’ survivors to also prioritise physical harm, while in reality, victims may feel more significantly impacted by psychological abuse (pp 17-20).

    Moreover, the results of the study indicate that gatekeepers often unjustly discount women’s personal trustworthiness, based on perceptions of their demeanour (pp 21-5), their perceived motive (pp 25-32), and their social location (pp 32-7). Even women who are able to overcome initial scepticism often find that the systems intended to provide assistance dismiss the importance of their experiences (p 37). In spite of meaningful progress, ‘the criminal justice system continues to discount important aspects of women’s experiences and to trivialize some of the harmful consequences that policies focused primarily on offender accountability often impose on survivors’ (p 38). Ultimately, ‘the arbiters of justice and social welfare adopt and enforce legal and social policies and practices with little regard for how they perpetuate patterns of abuse’ (p 1).

    These experiences of minimisation often echo women’s previous experiences of abuse (p 46). The impacts of this discrediting are multifaceted: the dismissal itself constitutes its own injury, which can compound the harm such women experience directly from the abuse (pp 47-50); additionally, this instinctive devaluing of women’s testimony becomes an independent obstacle to attempts to obtain safety and justice (pp 50-2). The authors conclude that credibility discounting is widespread and pervasive, and requires genuine institutional reform (p 59). Particularly, actors must be aware of these internalised assumptions, and seek to engage more openly with victims (see pp 54-6).
  • European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Women as victims of partner violence - Justice for victims of violent crime, Part IV (April 2019).
    This report, in line with the other reports from this project, highlights the importance of recognising victims’ rights. It specifically examines the experiences of women who endure partner violence – a crime that targets an individual’s dignity and core rights. It presents the findings from fieldwork in 7 EU Member States, including interviews with practitioners working in criminal justice systems and 35 women victims of partner violence. Victims were asked about their experiences with support organisations, the police, public prosecutors’ services and courts, and any protection mechanisms available to them against repeat victimisation. Evidence shows that women victims of partner violence lack effective protection due to the inadequacy of police responses, the shortcomings in the referral of victims to support services, the incompleteness of networks of support organisations, and the insufficiency in the implementation of court protection orders. In fact, the report found that 2 in 3 women who brought their victimisation to the attention of the police were left without any protection against repeat victimisation. The police neither arrested the offender, nor issued an emergency barring order.
  • Hester, Marianne, ‘Who Does What to Whom?’ (2013) 10(5) European Journal of Criminology 623.

    Abstract: ‘The article discusses findings from the first study in Europe to track domestic violence cases over six years through the criminal justice system and compare cases involving male and female perpetrators. Ninety-six cases involving men and women recorded by the police in England as intimate domestic violence perpetrators were tracked to provide detailed narratives and progression of cases, establishing samples with a single male or female perpetrator or where both partners were recorded as perpetrators. Domestic violence involves a pattern of abusive behaviour over time and the in-depth longitudinal approach allowed similarities and differences in violent and abusive behaviours used by men and women, as recorded by the police, to be explored. Gender differences were found relating to the nature of cases, forms of violence recorded, frequency of incidents and levels of arrest.’

    • In reviewing the current literature, this paper notes that ‘qualitative evidence indicates that women are rarely the initiators of violence, are more likely to be acting in self-defence, and may be using a range of behaviours to do so’ (p625). It finds that ‘The vast majority of men had at least two repeat incidents recorded (83% of all male perpetrators), many a lot more than that, and one man had 52 repeat incidents recorded within the six-year tracking period. In contrast, nearly two-thirds of all women recorded as perpetrators had only one incident (62%), and the highest number of repeat incidents for any woman was eight. As expected from previous literature on service samples (Johnson, 2006), these data indicate that intensity and severity of violence and abusive behaviours from the men was much more extreme. This was also reflected in the nature of the violence used.’ (p628)
    • The paper concludes that ‘Men were the perpetrators in a much greater number of incidents; the violence used by men against female partners was much more severe than that used by women against men; violence by men was most likely to involve fear by and control of female victims; women were more likely to use weapons, often in order to protect themselves; and female perpetrators were more likely to be alcoholic, or mentally ill, although alcohol misuse by men had a greater impact on severity on outcomes’ (pp634-635)
  • Swan, Suzanne C and David L Snow, ‘A Typology of Women’s Use of Violence in Intimate Relationships’ (2002) 8 (3) Violence Against Women 286.

    Abstract: ‘Women's use of violence in intimate relationships is not well understood. This study examined women's violence in relation to their male partner's violence against them. The sample consisted of 108 women who had used physical violence with a male partner in the previous 6 months. Almost all the women experienced physical abuse from their male partners. Whereas the women in the sample used more emotional abuse and moderate physical violence than their partners, the women were more often victims of sexual violence, injury, and coercive control. Three types of relationships were identified: women as victims (34%), women as aggressors (12%), and mixed relationships (50%), which were of two subtypes' mixed-male coercive (32%) and mixed-female coercive (18%). The study illustrates that women's violence needs to be examined within the context of male violence and abuse. The implications of the findings are discussed for researchers and practitioners who work with domestically violent women.’

    • Pp291-292 discuss the gendered contexts of male compared to female perpetrators inducing fear and using coercive control in intimate relationships
    • The findings of the study are presented from p298, noting that the women reported committing high rates of abuse against their male partners, but reported more incidents of abuse perpetrated by their partners; women committed more acts of physical violence, but their partners committed severe physical violence more frequently (particularly choking); male partners committed higher levels of sexual violence and coercive control, and were more likely to cause injury.
    • ‘Only 12% of the women were classified as aggressors. Considering that women were recruited into the study based on their violent behavior, this was a surprisingly small number’ (p 301).