In Australia, domestic and family violence is disturbingly common. It is one of the main drivers of homelessness among women, children and men.

Domestic and family violence involves abusive and violent behaviour towards a partner, former partner or family member. It extends beyond physical violence, and can involve actions that control, humiliate or scare the other person or people in the household.

National statistics can help us understand the gravity of the situation, but alarmingly, many victims of domestic and family violence will never report their experience. With many incidents going unreported, domestic and family violence may be much worse than we think.

Image reads “One in six women and one in sixteen men in Australia have experienced violence by an intimate partner. (AIHW, 2018)”

Domestic and family violence in Australia statistics

1. Women are more likely to experience abuse at the hands of a partner

  • 1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner, while for men it is 1 in 16.1
  • 75% of victims of domestic violence reported the perpetrator as male, while 25% reported the perpetrator as female.2 
  • Overall, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 20 men have experienced sexual violence.3
  • On average, 1 woman a week and 1 man a month is killed by a current or former partner.4

2. Domestic and family violence is a leading cause of homelessness

  • 1 in 3 clients (29% or about 82,300 clients) seeking assistance from homelessness services stated domestic and family violence was the most common main reason identified for seeking help.5
  • 41% (or 119,200) of people seeking help from specialist homelessness services in 2019-20 had experienced domestic and family violence.6

3. Many have experienced domestic and family violence in their childhood

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 9 men experience physical or sexual abuse before the age of 15.7
  • Of the adults who experienced current partner violence 86.8% indicated that their child saw or heard violence in the last 12 months.8
  • Approximately 2.5 million Australian adults (13%) experienced abuse during their childhood; the majority knew the perpetrator and experienced multiple incidents of abuse.9

4. Family violence is worse in Aboriginal communities

  • Indigenous people were 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence as non-Indigenous people.10
  • In 2017, the majority of Indigenous assault victims recorded by police were victims of family violence, ranging from 64% (2,700) in New South Wales to 74% (3,900) in the Northern Territory.11

5. People with disability are more likely to experience physical and/or sexual violence

  • People with disability were 1.8 times as likely to have experienced physical and/or sexual violence from a partner in the previous year (when compared with people without disability).12
  • People with disability were 1.7 times as likely to have experienced sexual violence (including assault and threats) since the age of 15.13

What you can do to help

Know someone affected by domestic and family violence?

If you are experiencing abuse or violence it is not your fault. There are support services that can help you. If your life is in danger, call 000. For 24/7 domestic violence counselling call the National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line on 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).

1,2,3,4 AIHW, (2018) Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018.
5,6 AIHW, (2020): Specialist homelessness services annual report, 2020
7 AIHW, (2019): Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019: in brief, 2019
8 AIHW, (2018): Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia, 2018
9 ABS, (2017): Characteristics and outcomes of childhood abuse, 2017
10,11,12,13AIHW, (2019): Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia: continuing the national story 2019: in brief, 2019

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