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Our research

Violence against women and their 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 hosts events as part of its knowledge transfer and exchange work, including public lectures, workshops and research launches. Details of upcoming ANROWS activities and news are available from the list on the right.



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.


Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family and sexual violence

This paper contexualises ANROWS’s research on the close links between imprisonment and domestic and family violence (DFV) and sexual violence.

These links are poorly understood, but are crucial in addressing cycles of violence/imprisonment, and providing support services to women who have experienced both violence and imprisonment.

This synthesis is designed for policymakers and practitioners engaging with people affected by domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment. It is also relevant for those who are developing policy frameworks addressing domestic, family and sexual violence; imprisonment; housing; mental health; substance use; and related issues.

Key issues

  • There are well-established links between women’s experiences of domestic, family and sexual violence and imprisonment.
    • Women can become caught in cycles of imprisonment and experiencing violence: violence increases the risk and effects of imprisonment, and imprisonment increases the risk and effects of violence.
  • Provision of accessible, affordable housing is fundamental to addressing both DFV and imprisonment.
  • Women in prison who have experienced DFV and/or sexual violence require holistic, consistent care.
  • Services and legal responses must be developed to respond to the specific needs of this cohort and create clear pathways to support.
    • Coordinated, wraparound services are necessary for women released from prison who are experiencing DFV and/or sexual violence.
    • Services for women released from prison who are experiencing DFV and/or sexual violence need to operate in ways that do not reinscribe criminality.
  • Culturally appropriate responses are imperative to addressing DFV and sexual violence in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
  • Increasing judicial understanding of DFV and sexual violence is imperative to fair implementation of sentencing policies.



Suggested citation

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2020). Women’s imprisonment and domestic, family, and sexual violence: Research synthesis (ANROWS Insights, 03/2020). Sydney: ANROWS.

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