Young Aussies, women who identify as queer, disabled and those under financial stress are more likely to be the victims of sexual and physical violence, new figures have revealed.
The second tranche of the Australian Bureau of Statistics personal safety survey showed a shocking one in five women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15.
The ABS surveyed 12,000 people between March 2021 and May 2022, asking for their experience of sexual and physical violence, harassment and their general feelings of personal safety.
University aged women, single mums, LGBTQ people, those experiencing financial stress and women with a disability were at higher risk of attack.
The survey found that while rates of sexual harassment and physical violence have decreased, sexual violence against women has risen – up from 1.2 per cent in 2012 to 1.9 per cent in 2021-22.
Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety chief executive Padma Raman said the results were “deeply concerning, but not surprising”.
“In all three categories – physical violence, sexual violence and sexual harassment – the rates of violence were much higher for young women between 18-24 years old,” she said.
“Last year, ANROWS released research led by Deb Loxton which showed that for women under 30, at least half had experienced sexual violence.
“The rate in which young women are experiencing violence is worrying and has implications for how we understand and respond to violence against women.”
Around 294,900 women aged 18 years and over had experienced sexual violence in the last two years, the ABS survey found.
Women aged 18 to 24 were more likely to experience sexual violence (12 per cent) compared to those aged 35 to 44 years (around 2 per cent).
ABS head of crime and justice statistics, Will Milne, said women were over three times more likely to have experienced sexual violence by a man they knew than by a stranger.
“We found that an estimated two million women have experienced sexual violence by a man they knew, and around 600,000 by a male stranger,” he said.
In most cases (90 per cent) of women who experienced a sexual assault by a male did not report the most recent incident to police.
Only 20 per cent of women who experienced a sexual assault by a male perceived the most recent incident as a crime at the time it occurred.
But two-thirds of women surveyed said their perception of an incident changed over time.
Women were more likely to perceive the incident as a crime at the time it occurred if they were aged 35 years and older (27 per cent) and if the perpetrator was a stranger (34 per cent).
The survey also found more men than women (4 million to and 3 million) experience physical violence since the age of 15.
Men are more likely to be the victims of attack from a stranger in a place outside the home.
Women are more likely to be victims of a male partner at home.
If you or anyone you know is in need or crisis, please call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline (131 114).