Family and domestic assault reported to police
Physical and sexual assault, including incidents within family or domestic relationships, may be reported to, and recorded by police. Examining whether police are contacted following family and domestic assault can provide an indication of reporting levels and utilisation of police services. Data on whether police were contacted (by the victim or another person) after an experience of family and domestic assault, as well as reasons for not contacting, are available from the ABS Personal Safety Survey (PSS). The PSS collects information on the experiences of violence for women and men in Australia.
The visualisation below shows whether the most recent incident of physical and/or sexual assault by a family member or intimate partner in the last 10 years was reported to police, for female victims. It shows police were contacted in relation to around 1 in 3 (or 32%) female family and domestic physical assaults by a male, 1 in 6 (17%) female family and domestic physical assaults by a female and 1 in 7 (14%) female family and domestic sexual assaults by a male. Data for victims of sexual assault by a female, and male victims of sexual assault by a male are not available due to data quality issues.
Police contacted after most recent incident of family and domestic assault, females, 2016
Examining reasons why people choose not to contact police after family and domestic assault can provide insight into how victims can be better supported and encouraged to seek help.
The visualisation below shows the reasons why female victims did not contact police following their most recent incident of family and domestic assault in the last 10 years. For female family and domestic physical assault and sexual assault by a male, the two most common reasons police were not contacted were, ‘Felt like they could deal with it themselves’ and ‘Did not regard the incident as a serious offence’. Data for males and some violence types are not available due to data quality issues.
Reasons police not contacted after most recent incident of family and domestic assault, females, 2016
- Family and domestic violence (including assault) is defined as any violence that occurs where the Personal Safety Survey (PSS) relationship of respondent with perpetrator is: Current or Previous partner; Father or Mother; Son or Daughter; Brother or Sister; Other relative or in-law; Boyfriend, Girlfriend or date; Ex-boyfriend or Ex-girlfriend.
- The PSS defines an intimate partner as a person who is either the Current or Previous partner; Boyfriend, Girlfriend or date; or Ex-boyfriend or Ex-girlfriend of the respondent.
- Other family member is defined as a relationship where the PSS relationship of respondent with perpetrator is: Father or Mother; Son or Daughter; Brother or Sister; Other relative or in-law.
- The PSS defines physical assault as any incident that involved the use of physical force with the intent to harm or frighten a person. Assaults may have occurred in conjunction with a robbery and includes incidents that occurred on the job, where a person was assaulted in their line of work (e.g. assaulted while working as a security guard), at school or overseas. Physical assault excludes incidents that occurred during the course of play on a sporting field and excludes incidents of violence that occurred before the age of 15 (which are defined as physical abuse). If a person experienced sexual assault and physical assault in the same incident, this was counted once only as a sexual assault.
- The PSS defines sexual assault as an act of a sexual nature carried out against a person's will through the use of physical force, intimidation or coercion, including any attempts to do this. This includes rape, attempted rape, aggravated sexual assault (assault with a weapon), indecent assault, penetration by objects, forced sexual activity that did not end in penetration and attempts to force a person into sexual activity. Incidents so defined would be an offence under State and Territory criminal law.
- Whether police were contacted was open to the respondent’s interpretation, and may include both contact that did and did not amount to a formal report.
- If a respondent did not contact the police, but the police ‘happened to attend’, this was recorded as someone else contacting the police. If the incident occurred in a public place such as a shopping centre, and security was contacted, this was recorded as the police not being contacted. However, if security subsequently contacted the police then it was recorded as someone else contacting the police.
- Most recent incident is limited to the last 10 years only.
- The PSS collects information from women and men aged 18 years and over about violence experienced since the age of 15.
Survey data, obtained from a sample of the population, is subject to sampling error. Where estimates are subject to a level of sampling error too high for general use, they are not included in visualisations, but are included in data tables, with caveats.
- The observed value of a rate may vary due to chance even where there is no variation in the underlying value of the rate. The margin of error is the largest possible difference (due to sampling error) that could exist between the estimate and what would have been produced had all persons been included in the survey. Confidence intervals—constructed by taking the estimate plus or minus the MoE— can be used to provide an approximate indication of the true differences between rates. If the confidence intervals do not overlap, the difference can be said to be statistically significant. However, statistically significant differences are not necessarily the same as differences considered to be of practical importance. Small differences that have practical importance may be found to be not statistically significant as they are below the threshold the significance test can reliably detect.
- For more information see Methods, Glossary and Data sources.
Next expected: 2022