We are often asked, ‘What about violence towards men?’ or ‘Why are you saying only males commit violence?’

Here is our response…

The Line and Our Watch are initiatives under The National Plan to Reduce Violence Women and Their Children 2010-2022. We are an independent, evidence-based, not-for-profit violence prevention agency founded to research the causes and ways to prevent violence towards women, and their children (boys and girls).

Regardless of gender, violence against anyone is unacceptable and devastating for everyone who is subjected to it. While we recognise and acknowledge that men are also victims of violence, and that women can perpetrate violence, the specific mandate of Our Watch is to research and prevent violence against women and their children.

Our talking about violence against women is in no way meant to deny or diminish the experience of other types of violence. We also believe action that promotes respectful and non-violent relationships will benefit the whole community, including men.

We were founded because of a crisis in Australia:

  • 89 women were killed by their current or former partner between 2008 and 2010, which equates to nearly one woman every week [1].
  • Police deal with an average of 657 domestic violence matters every day - one every two minutes [2].
  • The vast majority of violent acts – whether against men or women – are perpetrated by men [3].
  • The overwhelming majority of acts of rape and sexual assault are perpetrated by men against women [4].
  • Women are at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner [5].
  • Intimate partner violence is the biggest contributor to ill health and premature death in women aged 15–44, more than any other well-known risks including high blood pressure, obesity and smoking [6].
  • One in three women have experienced physical violence; one in five women have experienced sexual violence; and one in four women have experienced intimate partner violence, since the age of 15 [7].
  • Eight out of 10 women aged 18 to 24 were harassed on the street in the past year [8].
  • In the past year, 87 per cent of young women changed their behaviour to ensure their own safety [9].
  • 28 per cent of sexually active Australian female students in years 10, 11 and 12 reported an experience of unwanted sex [10].
  • Domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women [11].
  • Violence against women and their children is costing the Australian economy $21.7 billion per year [12].

While these numbers are unacceptable, it must be remembered many more cases go un-reported.

There are 10 things you should know about The Line:

  1. We believe all violence is absolutely wrong.
  2. We believe that most men are not violent.
  3. We believe that most women are not violent.
  4. We believe violence towards men is equally as unacceptable as violence towards women.
  5. We believe attitudes that excuse, condone or trivialise violence towards anyone must be stopped.
  6. We believe our work will make the community a safer place for everyone – males and females.
  7. Our work promotes healthy, safe and respectful relationships — and this will benefit everyone.
  8. Our work is informed by Australian and international evidence and independently evaluated.
  9. We know there are different patterns in the perpetration and impact of violence towards women to that of male to male, or female to male violence [13].
  10. We know that preventing violence against women requires different solutions to those required to stop violence towards men, because there are different drivers behind them [14].

What we know about male and female experiences and impacts of violence:

  • Men are more likely to experience violence by other men in public places [3].
  • Women are more likely to experience violence from men they know, often in the home [3].
  • The overwhelming majority of acts of rape and sexual assault are perpetrated by men against women [3].
  • Women are at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner [3].
  • Women are five times more likely to report fearing for their lives [15].

Drivers of violence against women

All of this evidence shows us that the circumstances and drivers of violence committed by men against women are very different to the drivers of other types of violence. We know that the most consistent drivers of violence against women are related to attitudes – our attitudes towards women and their roles and value in our society.

These attitudes relate to women not having equal power or resources as men, and that their voices, ideas and work are not valued in the same way as men’s. It’s also about the idea that women and men should act in certain ways or are better at certain things based on their gender. There may be other ‘contributing’ factors, such as alcohol-abuse or poverty, but these factors alone do not cause violence against women. For more on this read our article ‘Violence against women – What are we talking about?

To say that “gender has nothing to do with violence” is categorically wrong. Research and evidence from organisations such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics, World Health Organisation and the United Nations clearly tell us that gender has everything to do with violence against women.

Final note

None of our work or research suggests that violence towards men, or violence committed by women isn’t serious. Of course it is. However, the research and evidence does tell us three things:

  • Violence against women is at crisis levels;
  • Most violence against women is perpetrated by men;
  • A distinct set of solutions are required to tackle violence against women.

Conversations about ‘which violence is worse’ or ‘what about men?’ distract people from enacting these solutions, and downplay the seriousness of the current national crisis that is violence against women.

  • Information about violence against men
    If you’re specifically interested in issues around male victims of violence, we genuinely encourage you to do your research, join the conversations with the numerous men’s advocacy groups that exist, such as XY online, and lobby government and organisations for the rights and resources you feel are needed.
  • Support for male victims of violence
    If, as a male, you have been a victim of violence or abuse we encourage you to contact 1800MYLINE, or Mensline on 1300 78 99 78. 
  • Support for males around behaviour change
    The Men’s Referral Service offers anonymous and confidential telephone counselling, information and referrals to help men stop using violent and controlling behaviour - they can be contacted on 1300 766 491.

How you can reject violence and promote respect

  • Don’t downplay or denigrate an individual or entire gender’s experiences of violence. Acknowledge that all action to stop violence is positive for the whole community.
  • Get informed – visit www.ourwatch.org.au and www.theline.org.au, and read articles such as ‘Violence against women – what are we talking about’ and ‘Busting the myths around violence against women
  • Take (safe and) positive action against violence, harassment and discrimination when you see it – read some of our Taking action articles for more on this.
  • Encourage positive action and conversation against violence and discrimination when you come across it.
  • Understand the early signs of violence.
  • Reach out to a person who is being hurt, or who you think is being hurt, and ask them if they are ok.
  • Speak up among your mates…

More information


[1] National Homicide Monitoring Program 2010-2012, Australian Institute of Criminology

[2] Australian police deal with a domestic violence matter every two minutes, ABC News (2015)

[3] Personal Safety Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012)

[4] Violence against women: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey 2012, Horizons Research Report, Issue 1, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (2015)

[5] Personal Safety Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012)

[6] The Cost of Violence against Women and their Children, Department of Social Services, 2009

[7] Violence against women: Additional analysis of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Personal Safety Survey 2012, Horizons Research Report, Issue 1, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (2015)

[8] ‘Everyday sexism’, The Australia Institute, 2015

[9] ‘Everyday sexism’, The Australia Institute, 2015

[10] National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2013, Latrobe, 2014

[11] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Specialist homeless services data collection 2011-12, Cat. No. HOU 267, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2012)

[12] A high price to pay: the economic case for preventing violence against women, Our Watch, VicHealth and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (2015)

[13] Framework foundations 1: A review of the evidence on correlates of violence against women and what works to prevent it. Companion document to Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, Our Watch, Melbourne, Australia. Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth (2015), page 11.

[14] Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, page 23.

[15] Mouzos, J. (1999) Femicide: An overview of major findings, No. 124, Australian Institute of Criminology, Canberra, pp. 1-6; Statistics Canada (2003) Family violence in Canada: A statistical profile 2003, Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics, Ministry of Justice, Canada.

Add a comment (3)

Comments (3)


I reckon Men who respond saying "What about when women are violent to men?" are a little bit tired of hearing so often about Men's violence to Women. Fair enough! I don't like hearing it either and it annoys me. But, it's not the message that annoys me, or even that the focus is so often on Men being violent to women. What annoys me, as a man, is that this male aggression reflects poorly on all men. Who can change that? Men of course. Men who don't like to hear the focus on male aggression should be annoyed - but don't divert the issue or complain about the message. Get annoyed with aggressive, violent men and condemn their bad behaviour which sheds a dark light for all men


Actually Peter, I think some of them have experienced it directly. They suspect that society considers their abuse is gender justice (a good few examples of some referring to male violence or rape victims as 'payback') or entertainment (like Christians being fed to the lions by the Romans). And trust me, if you only hear about male on female violence or sexual abuse and you experience female on male abuse of either nature or both, it messes with your head completely.

John Jackson

Really well written article!