Survey reveals shocking Australian attitudes towards domestic and family violence

The disturbing views held by thousands of Australians on rape, domestic and family violence have been uncovered in a grim new survey.

More than 19,000 people across the country were interviewed for the government-funded National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women survey.

The report, released on Wednesday, revealed one-third of Australians think women use sexual assault claims to “get back” at men and just under a quarter believe women make allegations because they regret consensual sex.

As many as four in 10 Australians mistrust reports of sexual violence.

Nearly a quarter of respondents believed much of what is domestic violence was actually a “normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration”.

Chanel Contos, the founder of the Teach Us Consent campaign, said the rape culture in Australia had given way for stereotypes to thrive.

“Because we have strict stereotypes about who a perpetrator is and what they look like, and who a victim is and how they’re supposed to act, we enable perpetrators and we doubt victims,” she said.

“Perpetrators are not creepy guys who lurk in the streets. They’re in our homes, in our workplaces, in our classrooms, our friends, our brothers, our fathers, our sons.

“The reason men have entitlement over women’s bodies is because they grew up in a society, but all the findings of the attitudes in this report are reality.”

Two in five respondents of the survey believe that domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women equally.

While 91 per cent of those surveyed believe violence against women is a problem in Australia, less than half believe it is a problem in their own suburb or town.

More worryingly, Australia’s overall rejection of domestic violence plateaued between 2017 and 2021.

Rosie Batty, who also spoke at the report’s launch at Parliament House, blamed a lack of “political leadership” for the levelling off.

The former Australian of the Year, who stepped into the national spotlight after her only son was murdered by his father, said people needed to wake up to the fact this was happening in their neighbourhoods.

“People still don’t recognise family violence as being a problem in their own community. Do we do that to feel safer?” she said.

“We cannot do this without investment and leadership because this research is all critical. It has to reach those friends that I have that don’t understand that violence is prevalent and what it looks like and no one should be blamed for the violence.

“This is not good enough … It will take everybody to lift and be part of the solution.”

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said all Australians had a role to play in influencing how people understand respectful relationships.

“We’re committed to a future in which every woman in Australia lives free from fear and violence in all environments and that we end gender based violence in one generation,” she said at the launch.

“It is everyone’s responsibility. It is everyone’s business.”

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