The effects of domestic violence on women’s health

Key findings and future directions on intimate partner violence, including violence in both cohabiting and non-cohabiting relationships and emotional abuse:

  • is prevalent–affecting one in three women since the age of 15. One in four women has  experienced violence or abuse from a cohabiting partner. If we only consider physical and sexual violence, then one in six women have experienced at least one incident of violence by a cohabiting partner;
  • has serious impacts for women’s health–contributing to a range of negative health outcomes, including poor mental health, problems during pregnancy and birth, alcohol and illicit drug use, suicide, injuries and homicide;
  • contributes an estimated 5.1 percent to the disease burden in Australian women aged 18-44 years and 2.2% of the burden in women of all ages;
  • contributes more to the burden than any other risk factor in women aged 18-44 years, more than well known risk factors like tobacco use, high cholesterol or use of illicit drugs;
  • is estimated to contribute five times more to the burden of disease among Indigenous than non-Indigenous women;
  • is estimated to make a larger contribution than any other risk factor to the gap in the burden between Indigenous and non-Indigenous women aged 18-44 years;2 and
  • has serious consequences for the development and wellbeing of children living with violence.

The Examination of the Burden of Disease study was released in two reports. The first provides technical information about the methodology as well as detailed estimates of the health burden due to exposure to IPV – Examination of the burden of disease of intimate partner violence against women in 2011: Final report. The second report focuses on two populations that experience the highest health impacts: women of reproductive age (18-44 years) and Indigenous women

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