The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey

Found in: Resources on violence against women and girls

The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey

The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey is the best research available on attitudes in Australia. It has a large, random sample and has been measuring Australians’ attitudes to violence against women for over two decades. This is the 4th national survey. Previous surveys were conducted in 1995 (n=2,000), 2009 (10,100), 2013 (17,500).

The NCAS, led by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS), demonstrates that while Australians’ attitudes towards violence against women and gender equality are improving, too many still hold opinions that are at odds with women’s lived experiences and the evidence. The results show a disturbing downward trend in the percentage of people who recognise that men are more likely than women to use violence in relationships (down 22% points since 1995), or that women are more likely to suffer greater physical harm from this violence (down 8% points since 2009).

Some Australians continue to shift the blame away from men, with 21% believing that ‘sometimes a woman can make a man so angry he hits her when he didn’t mean to’, and 1 in 3 believing rape results from men not being able to control their need  for sex.

The survey showed that many people are denying the problem of violence, such as the number of people who think that many women exaggerate the problem of male violence (23%), and the fact that almost half (42%) think it is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men.

When it comes to consent, 30% believe that if a woman sends a nude image to her partner, she is partly responsible if he shares it without her permission. Furthermore, 1 in 5 believe that ‘since women are so sexual in public, it’s not surprising that some men think they can touch women without their permission’.

The continued lack of understanding surrounding the reality of violence against women has led to 1 in 3 Australians being unaware that a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone she knows than by a stranger.

Key message

Supporting messages or data

1. While   Australians’

attitudes to   violence against women and gender equality are improving, there are some   disturbing trends.

  •   Australians are more likely to   support gender equality and

reject   violence against women in 2017 than they were in 2013 and 2009.

  •   In this time there has been an improvement in attitudes overall, but some are remain a problem, Including   some in which there has been a worsening trend.

 

2. Many   people’s knowledge and attitudes to violence against women are out of step   with the evidence, and with women’s experiences.

  •   Fewer are aware that men are more likely than women to

use violence   in relationships (down 22 percentage   points since 1995), and that women are   more likely to suffer greater physical harm from this violence (down 8   percentage points since 2009).

  •   Contrary to Australian law, 12%   disagree that it is against the law for a man to force his wife to have sex   with him, and a further 7% did not   know the answer to this question.
  •   Although in the majority of   sexual assault cases the assailant is known   to the victim (ABS2017),18% believe that women are more likely   to be assaulted by a stranger than a known man, and 1 in 6 did not know.

 

 

3. It’s   concerning that a substantial minority mistrust women’s reports of violence,   and feel the problem of gender inequality is exaggerated. We need to do more   to change these attitudes.

  •   Nearly half of Australians (42%)   think it’s common for sexual

assault   accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men. Even though:

o      9 out of 10 women who havebeensexuallyassaulted do not report   to the police (ABS 2017), and false allegations are rare (see NCAS main report for review of   studies).

  •   Half of respondents believe that   women mistakenly interpret so-called ‘innocent’ remarks or acts as  being sexist, even though more than half of   Australian  women have experienced   sexual harassment (and women experience this more than men) (ABS2017).
  •   Even though women continue to   earn less on averaget han men in every industry and occupational category in   Australia (WorkplaceGenderEqualityAgency),40% think women   exaggerate how unequally women are treated.
  •   36% believe many women fail to   appreciate all that men do.

 

 

 

 

4. Our attitudes to sexual   consent are concerning. We need to focus on the abusive behaviour, not   women’s choices.

  •   Australians  are    more    likely    to    justify forced sex if the

woman initiates intimacy by   kissing a man first, with up to 15% thinking it’s justified in these   circumstances.

  •   Nearly 1 in 3 Australians (30%)   believe that if   a woman sends a nude   image to her   partner, then she   is partly responsible if  he   shares it without her permission.
  •   Nearly a quarter (23%)   think women find   it flattering to be   persistently pursued, even   if they aren’t   interested.
  •   1 in 10 believes that if a woman is   drunk and starts   having sex with a man, but   then falls asleep, it is understandable  if he continues  to have   sex with her   anyway.
  •   1 in 5 believes that since women   are so sexual in   public, it’s not surprising that some men think they   can touch women without their permission.

5. No matter who

we are or where we come from,   building support for gender equality is the key to changing negative   attitudes to violence against women.

  •   When people have negative views   about women and

gender relationships, they are   also more likely to hold   attitudes supporting violence against women.

  •   Attitudes towards women are fairly   consistent across the population, regardless of where   you live or how   much you money you earn.

 

 

6. We all have a role to play in   ending violence against women, by speaking up against abuse, sexism and   disrespect.

  •   The majority of Australians say they would   be bothered by

seeing verbal abuse of   a woman (98%)   and sexist jokes   (76%); however not   all of them   would take action.

  •   Though a majority of Australians   would be bothered by a sexist joke, only 45% said they would take action, 13%   would like to act but   wouldn’t know how,   and 18% said   they would feel uncomfortable but not act.
  •   We need to empower and support people   to speak out against abuse and disrespect towards women.
  •   Australians are likely to have the support of more of their   friends than they think when speaking out against the abuse and   disrespect of women. This  is  important because we are more likely   to take action if we know we have the support of our friends.

 

7. Men and boys have a key   role to play in changing   attitudes.

  •   Although attitudes to gender   equality and understanding of

violence against women are the strongest predictors of   attitudinal support for violence, the survey did find that men are more likely   to endorse violence-supportive attitudes and   are less likely to support gender equality. These attitudes are also more common   in male dominated occupations and among   people with mainly male friends.

  •   Men are important allies   in prevention.

8. Change is possible. We need to   keep the momentum going if we   want to prevent violence before it starts.