People sometimes ask why we research violence against women – what about men? Of course, all forms of violence are unacceptable, have serious consequences, and need to be addressed. However, violence against women follows different patterns than violence against men, and these differences are important in seeking solutions.
The best way to consider these differences is to look at the evidence. Australian statistics from the Personal Safety Survey show that both men and women are most likely to experience violence by a man, however women are more likely to be hurt by someone they know, particularly a partner or former partner. Men are more likely to experience violence in public places, and by a stranger or an acquaintance.
In Australia, women are three times more likely than men to experience violence at the hands of a partner or ex-partner. When intimate partner violence occurs, the violence experienced by women is more likely to be serious, involve abusive and controlling behaviours, and be repeated. The fact that women experience violence most often at the hands of someone close to them can have complex emotional and economic consequences. This means that addressing violence against women poses unique challenges which are specific to the dynamics of this gender-based problem, and efforts to ameliorate the problem must take these differences into account in order to be effective.
What this evidence suggests is that the patterns, dynamics and circumstances in which violence occurs are highly gendered. However this need not negate the experiences of men, boys, or violence in same-sex relationships. Instead our aim is to harness our existing knowledge of the specific patterns and dynamics of violence against women in order to seek innovative solutions to this widespread problem.