Violence against women is one of the most pervasive and dangerous ways in which power imbalances between women and men operate in Australian society. Research, launched on Friday the 20th of September, undertaken by the University of South Australia in collaboration with Uniting Country SA (UCSA) has sought to uncover the perceptions young women in regional areas have about this issue.

Australia-wide studies indicate that higher proportions of rural women have experienced intimate partner violence than urban women. However, most research has sought the accounts of women living in urban environments and policy and funding allocation is therefore skewed toward the needs of urban women.

The “Young country women’s perceptions of intimate partner violence” research paper by Dr Catherine Mackenzie and Tanya Mackay seeks to bridge this gap by aiming to understand young country women’s (16-24 years) perceptions and experiences of intimate partner violence, while informing UCSA’s Youth and Domestic Violence service’s practices. The research also assists UCSA coordinate its work across internal and external services as well as their local communities to actively reduce violence against women in current and future generations.

The study found that young country women experience similar types of intimate partner violence to those reported by women in urban environments, including non-physical but deeply traumatising types of abuse such as internet-based abuse. Young women who experienced intimate partner violence described not recognising it at the time, particularly if the violence was non-physical, and reported being unsure where to seek support. Further, some of the young women did not receive helpful support when sought.

Almost a decade on from the launch of The National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children 2010-2022, intimate partner violence is not showing signs of reduction in prevalence while violence-supportive attitudes remain unacceptably high. A whole-of-community approach that addresses the drivers of violence against women is needed to support long-term, positive, change.

Download the research here