1 in 5 Aussies admit to acts of sexual violence – ABC listen

1 in 5 Aussies admit to acts of sexual violence – ABC listen

Sally Sara: One in five Australians admits to perpetrating sexual violence, which has been found in new figures from the Australian Institute of Criminology. The survey of more than 5,000 anonymous adults revealed that the most common forms of sexual violence involved pressuring or manipulating someone into having sex. Rachel Hayter reports.

Rachel Hayter: New data has revealed the prevalence of sexual violence in Australia and who’s behind it. And it’s pretty alarming.

Dr Christopher Dowling: Just over one in five respondents had perpetrated sexual violence of some kind in adulthood, including a quarter of men and about one sixth of women.

Rachel Hayter: Dr Christopher Dowling is research manager at the Australian Institute of Criminology and the author of a new report examining sexual violence by talking to people aged between 18 to 45.

Dr Christopher Dowling: It surveyed 5,000 Australian adults and it asked a series of questions about whether respondents had ever perpetrated different forms of sexual violence, ranging from harassing and threatening someone for sex through to non-consensual sexual intercourse and other forms of physical assault.

Rachel Hayter: The survey showed the most common forms of sexual violence are those least likely to be reported to police.

Dr Christopher Dowling: Such as repeated harassment for sex, emotionally and psychologically blackmailing someone into sex and pressuring someone to take alcohol and drugs in order to have sex with them. And the perpetration of these was actually far more common.

Rachel Hayter: It’s behaviour that’s enabled by a culture of entitlement, according to senior lecturer at the Reducing Gender-Based Violence Research Group at La Trobe University, Jessica Ison.

Jessica Ison: These gender norms around what sex is and that men are entitled to sex from women and that women need to be pressured into sex. This is something that we have normalised across our media, across our movies, and it’s seen as okay to pressure someone into sex.

Rachel Hayter: She’s not surprised by the data and argues gender inequality in society helps fuel sexual violence.

Jessica Ison: We can see who holds power in our societies often. Men who hold power, but we see that in interpersonal relationships as well. We see that in situations of family violence and intimate partner violence, where male entitlement against victims, and including children, is really prevalent.

Rachel Hayter: Associate Director at the Centre for Innovative Justice at RMIT, Elena Campbell, believes pornography is also a driver.

Elena Campbell: There’s a lot of access for young people to imagery and concepts that normalise violence as part of an intimate relationship.

Rachel Hayter: She’s emphasising the importance of trauma-informed justice responses for people who’ve experienced sexual violence.

Elena Campbell: Acknowledging all of the challenges that we see in the criminal justice system, people are still looking to it as a way of stopping further harm. We have to make sure that, at the very least, to the very minimum that occurs, but we also have to make sure we are linking people with support that means that they know that they can come forward.

Rachel Hayter: The Australian Law Reform Commission is currently examining justice responses to sexual violence and is due to provide its final report to the Attorney-General by the 22nd of January next year.

Sally Sara: That’s Rachel Hayter reporting. And if you’re in an abusive situation or you know someone who is, you can call 1800 RESPECT. That’s 1800 737 732. And if it’s an emergency, you can call 000.

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