New research examines prevalence of sexual violence perpetration in Australia

Today, the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) has released a report that examines the prevalence of sexual violence perpetration in a community sample among adult Australians.

The study, which is based on a survey of more than 5,000 Australians aged 18 to 45, found that almost a quarter of respondents (22.1%) had perpetrated sexual violence since turning 18, while one in 14 had perpetrated sexual violence in the past 12 months.

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said the focus on perpetration estimates of sexual violence is important for understanding the drivers of perpetration and for concentrating prevention efforts on perpetrators rather than victims. However, little contemporary research has examined the self-reported prevalence of sexual violence perpetration in Australia.

“The estimates in this study are drawn on self-reported data and may overcome many of the issues inherent in official data held by police and criminal justice agencies, which have been relied upon to gauge the prevalence of sexual violence perpetration in Australia.

“Perpetrators who have contact with the criminal justice system represent only a small proportion of those who have perpetrated sexual violence. The vast majority of offences and perpetrators are never reported to police, and attrition rates are high among cases of sexual violence that do come to the attention of police, meaning few actually progress to prosecution and conviction,” said Dr Brown.

The most common forms of sexual violence perpetrated in the previous 12 months were: pressuring someone for dates or sexual activity (3.8%); emotionally or psychologically manipulating someone to participate in sexual activity (2.7%); non-consensual kissing (2.6%); non-consensual touching (2.4%); pressuring someone to participate in unprotected sexual activity (2.4%); engaging in image-based sexual abuse (2.1%); and non-consensual sexual intercourse (1.8%).

Men were more likely than women to commit all forms of sexual violence. They were also more likely to perpetrate sexual violence more frequently than women.

“These findings fill an important gap in the Australian evidence base, while also contributing to efforts to monitor and evaluate approaches to reducing sexual violence by providing more accurate estimates of its rate of perpetration,” said Dr Brown.

If you or someone you know is impacted by family, domestic or sexual violence you can call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732, visit the 1800RESPECT website or text 0458 737 732.

The full report is available on the AIC website.

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