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One in five adults admit to perpetrating sexual violence in Australia

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More than one in five (22.1%) people aged 18 to 45 in Australia admitted to perpetrating sexual violence as an adult.
perpetrating sexual violence Australia

CW: Sexual violence

More than one in five adults in Australia have admitted to perpetrating some form of sexual violence, according to new national data.

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) surveyed over 5,000 18 to 45-year-olds.

It found rates of sexual violence were higher among male perpetrators, with one in four men admitting to acts including harassment and coercion, sexual assault, and image-based sexual abuse.

Swipe to read more of the report’s findings.

Report

To examine the “prevalence of sexual violence perpetration in Australia,” the AIC used self-reported data.

While many respondents admitted to being sexually violent, this doesn’t mean perpetrators have been reported to police or charged with any criminal acts.

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown said the data was important to help understand “the drivers of perpetration and for concentrating prevention efforts on perpetrators rather than victims.”

Methodology

The survey was conducted by Roy Morgan Research in 2022, and involved 5,076 Australians from the age of 18 to 45.

Respondents were relatively evenly split between men and women. The study included 55 gender-diverse participants.

The AIC report said it weighed the data by “gender, age and area of residence” to ensure findings reflected the “proportional spread” of Australians.

Findings

  • More than one in five (22.1%) people aged 18 to 45 admitted to perpetrating sexual violence as an adult in Australia.
  • One in four (26.4%) men aged 18 to 45 admitted to perpetrating sexual violence as an adult. This is compared to one in six women.
  • One in 10 (9.9%) respondents admitted to perpetrating sexual violence in the past 12 months.
  • 13.2% of men said they perpetrated some form of sexual violence in the past 12 months.
  • 6.6% of women said they perpetrated some form of sexual violence in the past 12 months.

“Perpetrators who have contact with the criminal justice system represent only a small proportion of those who have perpetrated sexual violence.”

AIC Deputy Director Dr Rick Brown

Other findings

Around one in six respondents admitted to perpetrating a form of sexual harassment or coercion as an adult.

Sexual harassment and coercion can include pressuring a person into:

  • a date or sexual activity
  • drug or alcohol consumption with the intent of asking for sexual activity
  • unprotected sexual activity.

More than one in 10 said they’d sexually assaulted someone since turning 18. This includes non-consensual kissing, touching, and sex.

Response

Full Stop Australia is a sexual, domestic and family violence support organisation.

CEO Karen Bevan told TDA that “communities are yet to come to terms with the fact that people, some we know, knowingly perpetrate sexual violence.”

Bevan said that “victim-survivors experiences tell us” perpetrators must be kept accountable “for their intentional and purposive use of rape and abuse.”

1800 RESPECT
Call: 1800 737 732
Text: 0458 737 732
Video: 1800RESPECT.org.au

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