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Violence against women and children affects everybody. It impacts on the health, wellbeing and safety of a significant proportion of Australians throughout all states and territories and places an enormous burden on the nation’s economy across family and community services, health and hospitals, income-support and criminal justice systems.


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ANROWS was established by the Commonwealth and all state and territory governments of Australia to produce, disseminate and assist in applying evidence for policy and practice addressing violence against women and their children.



To support the take-up of evidence, ANROWS offers a range of resources developed from research to support practitioners and policy-makers in delivering evidence-based interventions.


Understanding the impact of gendered biases in perceptions of sexual assault ‘victim’ and ‘perpetrator’ responsibility

Current political and social discourse has frequently featur/ed/ing high-profile reports of sexual harassment and assault, with the culpability of the offender, and the reliability of the victim, often called into question. This research aimed to explore unconscious biases relating to attributions of victim and perpetrator responsibility within a fictional sexual assault scenario. Participants (N = 253) were randomly allocated to one of four conditions as part of an anonymous, online survey. Each condition was presented with a different vignette, with scenarios presented being realistic and identical between conditions, apart from the gender and sexual identities of the two ‘characters’. Dyads featured were a heterosexual female assaulted by a heterosexual male, a heterosexual male assaulted by a heterosexual female, a gay male assaulted by a gay male, and a heterosexual male assaulted by a heterosexual male. Participants were then required to rate victim responsibility and offender responsibility for the incident depicted within the vignette, along with their own judgement on whether they believed the incident was a sexual assault, or not.

Contrary to initial expectations, the female victim was identified as, on average, the most responsible victim. The female perpetrator was also, on average, the most culpable offender.

These findings are interpreted utilising a theoretical lens; with limitations, implications for practice and community development, and recommendations for further research discussed.

Project contact
Christina Melrose
Gippsland Centre against Sexual Assault

Funding Body
Gippsland Centre against Sexual Assault

Project start & End Dates
February 2017 – May 2018

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