Concern over 'dangerous' domestic violence finding

One-third of young men don’t consider punching to be domestic violence according to new research from domestic violence prevention foundation White Ribbon.

The ‘troubling’ findings were published as part of polling data commission by the foundation and conducted by Essential Research, which surveyed 1,074 respondents online between 30th September to 5th October 2020.

Domestic Violence
The research found almost one-third of young men don't consider physical violence as domestic violence. Photo: Getty Images

Key findings from the research was the fact that young men appear to struggle with identifying domestic violence behaviour, particularly compared with older demographics.

Of men aged 18-34 surveyed, 42% do not consider physical violence to be a type of family or domestic violence.

By comparison, just 6% of men aged 55-64 failed to identify physical violence as domestic violence, and a paltry 2% of men over 65 said the same.

Women were by comparison far more likely to identify physical and sexual violence as domestic violence, though of women aged 18-34 only 76% identified punching, hitting and slapping as DV compared with 94% of those aged 45-54.

Image of man with closed fist represents physical domestic violence as White Ribbon polling data shows 42% of young men don't consider it Domestic Violence
Physical violence was the most easily identified among all age groups. Photo: Getty Images

Young respondents struggle to identify sexual violence

Young women also struggled to identify sexual violence as DV, with 67% identifying non-consensual sexual activity as DV, compared with 91% of their 45 to 54-year-old counterparts.

Young men were similarly unclear about non-consensual sexual activity, with just over half (54%) of those aged 18-34 identifying it as such, and less than half, just 48% of those aged 35-44 agreeing that non-consensual sex would be considered domestic violence.

Image of man with hand on woman's back domestic violence unwanted non-consensual sexual activity struggles to be identified according to White Ribbon report
Unwanted sexual activity was identified as domestic violence by just over half of men aged 18-34 and only 67% of women of the same age. Photo: Getty Images

Findings show a ‘troubling’ ‘pervasive blindness’ to abusive behaviours says CEO

The findings are considered ‘troubling’ and potentially ‘dangerous’ according to White Ribbon Executive Director Brad Chilcott.

“There is a pervasive blindness to abusive behaviours among young men that is both troubling and dangerous,” Mr Chilcott said of the findings, adding the normalisation of controlling behaviour ‘runs deep’.


As to what those surveyed thought of less apparent coercive behaviour, the numbers hit lower, but still showed over half of people were able to identify domestic violence.

The behaviour least likely to be recognised as domestic violence were those considered to fall under coercive control’.

Coercive control behaviour digitally spying on partner Domestic Violence findings
Behaviour like electronically spying on a partner was less easily identified by many respondents. Photo: Stock image from Getty Images

Controlling money so a person is dependent on the other for finances was considered by 67% of men to be domestic violence, and 80% of women.

Behaviour that included making constant phone calls and sending text messages, or spying using electronic means was identifi8ed as domestic violence by 64% of men and 78% of women.

“These attitudes to relationships, where surveillance and control are thought normal and unremarkable, are formed early and run deep,” Mr Chilcott said.

“Male violence against women is not an abstract tragedy that takes place outside our realm of experience. We must accept it for what it is: a crime that we witness, tolerate through silence, and even participate in throughout our lives.”

If you or someone you know is suffering from sexual or domestic abuse, don't suffer in silence, call 1800 RESPECT any time of day or night.

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