What causes family violence?

Often victims are told that they are to blame for the violence. That they have caused it, but it is important to note that the person using the violence is responsible for their violence and not the victim.

What causes and allows people to use family violence is complex and not due to one single thing.

The underlying cause of family violence is inequality between men and women as well as community attitudes and about gender and violence more generally.

For example, in individual relationships this inequality plays out in the belief that a man is entitled to exercise power and control over his partner and children. It can also show up in the belief that gender diverse or non-binary people are less deserving of safety and social inclusion.

You can watch a video on the causes of family violence here.

Here are some national statistics on the prevalence and gendered nature of family violence. These figures have been taken from the Personal Safety Survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2017. The statistics show that:

  • victim survivors of family violence are predominantly women and children
  • family violence experienced by men is usually perpetrated by other male family members
  • men perpetrate the majority of all violence in Australia against women, children and others, and
  • women and men both experience violence from partners, though their experience of violence is different.

Women who are victims of family violence suffer more injuries and are more likely to feel fear than men. Women are also more likely to be killed than men due to family violence.

Whilst family violence occurs in all cultures, communities and across all demographics including age, gender and socioeconomic status, some groups of people are more at risk of violence and have more difficulty getting help because they also face other types of discrimination, such as racism.

There are also some things that may increase how often and how severe the violence is. This includes acquired brain injury, the use of drugs or alcohol, and the perpetrator’s own experience of violence. However, these are not excuses for using violence, abuse and controlling behaviours against another person.

Similarly, a parent who perpetrates family violence against another parent or family member, who abuses and harms children or exposes them to the effects of abuse, is choosing to make family violence part of their children’s lives.

For more information visit the Are you safe at home? website