Asking women about intimate partner sexual violence

Women Social issues Sex differences Crime Australia

This Resource Sheet aims to provide current information to those working in health care settings about how to approach the discussion of intimate partner sexual violence with their female clients and patients.

Why discuss intimate partner sexual violence?

  • Forty to forty-five per cent of women who are physically abused by their intimate partners are also forced into sexual activities by them.
  • Women who have been sexually assaulted by their partners experience a number of serious risks that are different and more serious than women who experience physical violence alone. These include:
    • a greater risk of being killed by their partner;
    • stress-related symptoms;
    • increased likelihood of gynaecological; and
    • detrimental emotional and mental health effects.
  • It can't be assumed sexual violence will be revealed - even when physical violence is disclosed, the sexual aspect may not be.
  • Some victim/survivors may not even be certain that their partner's behaviour constitutes sexual abuse.
  • Communication with a health care provider can make a difference in whether women access support services.

Image: Gabriela Camerotti

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