Attitudes that condone or tolerate violence are recognised as playing a central role in shaping the way individuals, organisations and communities respond to violence.

Even though almost all Australians recognise that the physical and sexual assault of women is wrong, some still have attitudes and beliefs that tolerate and promote violence against women.

The recent National Community Attitudes Survey 2013 found that attitudes and beliefs that contribute to violence against women are still prevalent in Australia.

The results showed that:

  • three-quarters of Australians find it hard to understand why women stay in abusive relationships;
  • half of all Australians believe that women could leave if they really wanted to leave;
  • one in five Australians believe violence can be excused if the offender later regrets it;
  • fewer Australians agreed that women are more likely to be raped by someone they know than a stranger;
  • one in six agreed that women say “no” when they mean “yes”;
  • one in five Australians still agree that a woman is partly responsible for rape if she is intoxicated
  • two-thirds (64%) believe violence against women is caused by some men being unable to control their anger and 43% believe men rape because they can’t control their need for sex.
  • one in ten endorsed the view that if a woman doesn’t physically resist, even if protesting verbally, then it isn’t really rape;
  • slightly more (12%) agreed that if a woman goes to a room alone with a man at a party, it is her fault if she is raped; and
  • more than one in three (38%) Australians holds the attitude that a lot of times women who say they were raped had led the man on and later had regrets.

Finally, the report showed a rise in the number of Australians who believe that both men and women are equally responsible for domestic violence. In reality, most adults who have experienced violence since the age of 15 experienced violence from a male (78% of those reporting partner violence and 95% of those reporting all forms of violence).