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One In Six Women And One In Nine Men Abused Before Age 15: Report

One in six Australian women and one in nine men have been physically or sexually abused before the age of 15, according to a new government report.

The findings are part of a comprehensive report from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) into family, domestic and sexual violence, building on the AIHW’s first report, released last year.

“Family, domestic and sexual violence can take many forms, including physical and sexual violence, emotional abuse, or attempts to control another person’s behaviour,” AIHW spokesperson Louise York said.

“The impacts of family, domestic and sexual violence on children and adolescents can be long-lasting, affecting their health, well-being, education, relationships and housing outcomes.”

Of adults who experienced sexual abuse before age 15, nearly eight in ten (79 percent) were abused by a relative, friend, acquaintance or neighbour. A minority of people (11 percent) were abused by a stranger.

When it comes to physical abuse, parents are the most common perpetrators. About 45 percent of victims were abused by a father or stepfather, while about 24 percent were abused by a mother or stepmother.

Sadly, the AIHW also reported 284 cases of filicide (the killing of a child by a parent or parent equivalent) between 2000 - 2001, and 2011 - 2012.

Obtaining robust data on child abuse is difficult, the AIHW said, and these figures may be under-reported.

Most child victims of physical abuse were abused by their parents, the AIHW found. Source: Getty

The report also found women with disability, Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people, LGBTQ+ people, and women living in rural and regional areas were more likely to experience violence.

About 2.5 percent of women with a disability had experienced partner violence in the previous 12 months, compared to just over 1.3 percent of women without a disability.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were 32 times more likely to be hospitalised for family violence than non-Indigenous people.

About 52 percent of people with diverse sexual orientations and gender diversities had experienced workplace sexual harassment in the past year, compared to 30 percent of all Australians.

And 23 percent of women living in rural or remote areas had experienced partner violence, compared to 15 percent of women living in major cities.

The report also revealed that 2017-2018 was a record high in sexual assaults being reported to police, with 25,000 victims coming forward -- eight percent more than 2016, and the highest number since the data series began in 2010.

One in six women has experienced stalking, the report found. Photo: Getty.

One in six women and one in 15 men have experienced stalking, the report found, while one in two women and one in four men have experienced sexual harassment.

One woman was killed by an intimate partner every nine days between July 2015 and July 2016, while a man was killed by an intimate partner every 29 days.

“Between 2014–15 and 2016–17, the rate of hospitalisation of women assaulted by a spouse or partner has risen by 23 percent, from 31 to 38 hospitalisations per 100,000 population,” York said.

However, while the report found rates of violence have remained stable since 2005, the number of people accessing services such as police, hospital, child protection and homelessness services has increased.

If you would like to speak to someone about the issues raised in this article, you can contact Blue Knot (an organisation for adults surviving child sex abuse) on 1300 657 380, 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732, or the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800, or speak to your GP. If you are in distress, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au