The issue

Disrespect and violence against women

Violence against women and their children is a serious issue in Australia.

  • 1 in 3 women has been a victim of physical or sexual violence, since the age of 15, by someone known to them. (2016 Personal Safety Survey, ABS)
  • Almost 1 in 4 women have been emotionally abused by a partner since the age of 15. (2016 Personal Safety Survey, ABS)
  • 1 woman dies almost every week at the hands of a current or former partner. (2015 Australian Institute of Criminology report)

There is a clear link between violence towards women, and attitudes of disrespect and gender inequality.

Even though most Australians recognise that violence against women is a serious issue, fewer people realise where the behaviours and attitudes can start – in childhood.

Adults have the strongest influence on young people’s attitudes about disrespect towards women. But when we see it in action, we tend not to get involved. Without realising it, what we say and do is shaping young peoples’ views about more serious behaviours.

  • 1 in 4 young people don’t think it’s serious when guys insult or verbally harass girls in the street. (Our Watch: The Line Campaign 2015)
  • 1 in 4 young people don’t think it’s serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk and they’re arguing.
  • 1 in 4 young men believe that girls like guys to be in charge of the relationship.
  • 1 in 5 young people believe there are times when women bear some responsibility for sexual assault. (VicHealth National Community Attitudes Survey 2013)

To find out more, view the infographic or the animation.



The cycle of violence against women starts with disrespect. The excuses we make allow it to grow. Watch our latest video and see how you can be part of the solution.


Young people are shaped by the world around them — the stories they hear, experiences they have and the people they look up to are essential parts of their childhood.

They form their beliefs through what they see, hear and talk about.

As adults, we just want what’s best for our kids.

What we often don’t realise is that our words and actions can carry hidden meanings.

Sometimes we ignore disrespectful behaviour, or we teach girls to accept it.

Often, we don’t even know we’re doing it.

Most Australians agree violence against women is a serious problem.

The cycle of violence starts with disrespect.

It starts with attitudes and behaviours of young people that are dismissed by adults.

The excuses we make allow disrespect to grow.

We teach boys that this behaviour towards girls is ‘just what boys do’.

We teach girls to accept it, and tell them ‘It’s ok, he probably did it because he likes you’.

We can sometimes question the role of the girl.

“What did she do?”

“It takes two to tango”

By making excuses we pass on our beliefs about men and women to the next generation.

When we accept aggression as just part of being a boy, when we play down disrespect, or when we blame girls.

We don’t want to be seen as an over-protective parent or risk being criticised by others; we don’t want to embarrass our kids; we may not feel it’s our place to intervene. We may not realise that our words and actions can start the cycle of violence

As parents, teachers, coaches, employers and role models, we can have a positive influence on young people and set the standard for what is and what’s not acceptable, right from the start.

Together we can help stop the cycle of violence against women.

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The campaign was informed by the research report Reducing violence against women and their children, commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

The research was undertaken by Taylor Nelson Sofres (TNS). It was conducted across Australia with boys and girls aged 10-17 and their influencers – these included parents, siblings, teachers, sporting coaches, managers and community leaders.

The research showed that while Australians agree that violence against women is wrong, there is a tendency to minimise disrespectful behaviours, blame victims for violence, and empathise with males. It showed that excusing disrespectful and aggressive behaviours towards girls and women is learned from an early age.

The research found that:

  • from an early age, young people begin to believe there are reasons and situations that can make disrespectful behaviour acceptable
  • girls blame themselves, questioning whether the trigger for the behaviour is potentially their fault, rather than questioning the behaviour of the male
  • boys blame others, particularly the female, and deflect personal responsibility telling each other it was a bit of a joke – it didn’t mean anything
  • adults accept the behaviour when they say ‘it takes two to tango’ or ‘boys will be boys’
  • the cost of doing something is considered to be too high – parents worry about embarrassing their child, or even themselves; teachers and coaches are unsure how far to go.