Causes of violence against women

What causes men’s violence against women?

Here you will find the answer to a White Ribbon FAQ: what causes men’s violence against women?

Men’s violence is the result of gender norms and inequality.

Sometimes men feel pressure to be dominant and in control. Some people believe men must be strong and powerful. These characteristics are called gender norms.

Men often have more power and a higher status than women. We see this in private and public life: in the home, workplace and community. This imbalance is known as gender inequality. Violence against women is more easily accepted in societies where men and women are not equal.

What drives violence against women?

The drivers of men’s violence against women include:

  • gender norms
  • accepting and sometimes approving of men’s violence against women
  • men controlling decision-making
  • limits to women’s independence in public and private life
  • interactions between men that are aggressive and disrespectful towards women.

Other contributors to men’s violence against women

There are also a number of reinforcing factors that, while not a direct cause of men’s violence against women, increase its likelihood and severity:

  • discrimination
  • experience of and exposure to violence
  • alcohol and substance use
  • some cultural and religious practices
  • lack of knowledge of Australian laws
  • loss of traditional family and community support systems.

Only some men use violence against women. Most men think that violence against women is never acceptable.

What about violence against men?

Men are also victims of violence. However, most of the time men and boys are victims of violence by other men. [i]

Learn more here.


[i] Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety and VicHealth (2015) Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia. Our Watch, Melbourne.


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