Aim: To determine which factors were associated with (1) female experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV), (2) female reporting of physical or sexual assault by an intimate partner to the police and (3) females seeking help and support after experiencing IPV.
Method: Women who experienced violence from an intimate partner in the two years prior to participating in the ABS Personal Safety Survey 2012 (PSS) were compared with women who reported never having experienced any violence. Multivariate logistic regression was used to examine which factors including socio-demographic, financial stress, social connectedness, abuse before the age of 15 and emotional abuse by a partner were related to experiences of IPV. In order to ascertain which factors were related to help-seeking behaviours, multilevel regression models were used on a subsample of females whose most recent incident of violence in the last two years was perpetrated by an intimate partner.
Results: The risk of IPV varies greatly across the community. Factors associated with a higher risk of IPV included being younger, Australian-born, having a long-term health condition, lacking social support, experiencing financial stress, having previously been a victim of child abuse and having experienced emotional abuse by an intimate partner. Where the most recent incident of physical or sexual assault in the last two years was perpetrated by an intimate partner, less than one in three assaults were reported to the police. Intimate partner assaults were less likely to be reported to the police if the perpetrator was still a current partner of the victim at the time of the interview, the assault was sexual (not physical) and if the victim perceived the assault was “not a crime” or “not serious enough”. Having a physical injury after the incident was associated with an increased likelihood of reporting the assault to the police. Where the most recent incident of violence (assaults and threats) was perpetrated by an intimate partner, a counsellor or social worker was consulted after 30% of all incidents.
Conclusion: Efforts to prevent IPV and improve services and supports for IPV victims should focus on women who experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner, sole parents, women who lack social supports, women experiencing financial stress, women who have experienced abuse as a child and women with a disability or long-term health condition.