Women's Health Goulburn North East
Women's Health Goulburn North East


57 Rowan Street, Wangaratta, 3677
Tel 03 5722 3009 | Fax 03 5722 3020
Email whealth@whealth.com.au

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Raped by a Partner: A research report

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This report has implications for health professionals, GPs, ministers, community members and anyone who works with them. Partner rape is prevalent in our society

The project proposal describes how the research was undertaken to fill a gap in the available evidence about partner rape. It is qualitative research based on interviews with 21 women from the Goulburn Valley and north east Victoria; and interviews and focus groups with 30 police officers and 23 sector workers.

The 170 page final report contains an executive summary and a number of recommendations. Key amongst these is the need for awareness amongst men and women in our community that partner rape exists and is a crime. Even if a marriage or relationship exists, men have no entitlement to sex. Hard copies are available for $25, please contact WHGNE.

PDF FileDownload Report - Raped by a Partner
Size 1.45MB

Partner Rape: KNOW ABOUT IT, RESPOND EFFECTIVELY, PREVENT IT
This is an educational film for health and legal professionals, for women affected by partner rape, for men's groups and for the community, based on the research report.

View the Partner Rape DVD

 

postcardPost Cards and Posters

If you would like to distribute the postcards or posters within your own networks, please contact us to have them sent to you. Post cards come in packs of 50 and posters are A4 in size.

Alternatively, if you would like a bigger distribution within your region, feel free to have them printed. The pdfs are ready to send to a printer, and the State-wide information (Victoria) is correct as of 16th April 2009.

PDF FileDownload Post Card
Size 1.36MB

PDF FileDownload Poster
Size 8.03MB

 

Health Professionals

A four-step plan has been developed for health professionals, GPs, ministers, community members and anyone who works with women. Our aim is that workers begin to name women's experiences for what they are and to understand how to respond effectively.

As a health professional, you can do something in just four steps:

  1. ASK - 'Are you safe within your relationship?'
  2. NAME IT - 'What you’ve just described to me is rape and it's a crime'.
  3. RESPOND - 'Give contact details:
    • Centre Against Sexual Assault 1800 806 292
    • Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 015 188
    • Victoria Police 000 or your local Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Units
  4. FOLLOW UP - 'Last time you spoke about your safety. I'd like to know how you are now.'

 

Launch

Raped by a Partner: A research report was launched Tuesday the 15th July 2008.

Introduction of Raped by a Partner: Susie Reid
Presentations by Women: Janet, Jacqui, Kim
Keynote Presentation: Zoe Morrison, Coordinator, Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault (ACSSA), at the Australian Institute of Family Studies
Presentation of Research: Researchers, Kerry Burns, and Debra Parkinson
Presentations by Women: Elizabeth, Julia

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Raped by a partner: Nowhere to go, No-one to tell

Introduction and background
WHGNE and Upper Murray Centre Against Sexual Assault (UMCASA) formed a partnership to research partner rape in the Hume region to contribute to an evidence base and fill a gap in our knowledge and understanding. The need for the research became increasingly apparent as we realised our society does not recognise partner rape as a problem. We don't talk about it. We don't even name it as rape.

Twenty years ago men could rape their wives without fear of criminal charge. In 1985, this changed.

Section 38 of the Crimes Act 1958 a person must not commit rape.
Penalty: Level 2 imprisonment (25 years maximum).

Sub-section 62(2) of the Crimes Act 1958 states:
The existence of a marriage does not constitute, or raise any presumption of, consent by a person to an act of sexual penetration with another person or to an indecent assault (with or without aggravating circumstances) by another person. (The Crimes (Amendment) Act 1985 s 10)

Yet, society does not seem to have caught up with the change. We wonder about what rape by a partner is. We put it in a different class to stranger rape, 'real rape' where a woman is literally dragged into the bushes as she walks home from work. We don’t take it seriously.

As researchers, we encountered unease from people when we mentioned the research we were about to undertake. Women, in particular, said things like:

In this research, we consulted  21 women (including five from Aboriginal communities) covering a range of geographic locations and ages; 23 workers (from DV, sexual assault, health, community and police sectors and included workers with the Indigenous community); and 30 police officers (from Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Unit, Criminal Investigation Unit, and uniformed police from both sides of the region). Consultations have been through focus groups and in-depth, semi-structured interviews. Ethics approval was gained from NHMRC and the Victoria Police Research Coordinating Committee.

As we spoke to women and workers, it became clear that what makes it rape is a culture of fear and control in the relationship; or knowing 'No' is not an option; or where consent is not gained.

For women, it is like this ...

For him, she thinks it is like this…

This research suggested to us that increasing isolation means increased risk for women. There is more opportunity for entrapment and monitoring and a greater prevalence of conservative attitudes towards gender roles. To exacerbate this, there are few support services for violence and sexual assault against women in rural and remote areas.

As a health professional, you can do something in just four steps:

  1. ASK - 'Are you safe within your relationship?'
  2. NAME IT - 'What you’ve just described to me is rape and it's a crime'.
  3. RESPOND - 'Give contact details:
    • Centre Against Sexual Assault 1800 806 292
    • Women's Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 015 188
    • Victoria Police 000 or your local Victoria Police Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Units
  4. FOLLOW UP - 'Last time you spoke about your safety. I'd like to know how you are now.'

May 2007

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Project Proposal

Upper Murray Centre Against Sexual Assault and Women's Health Goulburn North East have formed a partnership to research Intimate Partner Rape and rurality.

We are now seeking women and workers willing to participate in this research. Your views and experiences can assist us to further understand and provide support that meets the needs of women in our communities. If you would like to participate or ask some more questions please contact Julie or Deb on 03 5722 3009 or email

Across sectors and in the community generally, intimate partner rape has not been recognized as a serious social problem. There is little research that specifically identifies and explores rape by intimate partners, rather than sexual abuse generally, or domestic violence.

The scarce evidence that does exist suggests that intimate partner rape affects a significant number of women. A 1998 Australian survey found that 40% of women aged 45-50 had experiences of sexual abuse from their former or current partner (Parker 2001: 189 cited Heenan, 2004).

Yet there is a discernible reluctance on the part of researchers to research rape by an intimate partner.

Secondly, little is known in Australia about how workers (responding at the front line to women reporting sexual assault) take action in relation to intimate partner rape. Such workers include police, domestic violence workers, counsellors, GPs, refuge workers. There is a discernible reluctance from the legal sector to prosecute for intimate partner rape. It’s not generally seen to be a crime. Women cannot find a language to describe rape by their partner. They try to normalize it; they minimise it. As a result, they are unlikely to seek help for physical or emotional injury. Their reluctance to seek intervention from the law is clear and understandable when we hear that very few men have been convicting of raping their partner.

The Law Reform Commission commends the recent changes to Victorian law, which include recognising rape in marriage as a crime and excluding a victim's sexual history from trial. But they realise that changing the attitudes of both the community and those working in the justice system presents a much more difficult challenge.

Very few prosecutions proceed where there is cohabitation. Securing convictions remains difficult for prosecutors. Where it does occur, physical injury is generally also present.

This research will fill a gap in that very little is known about rural women experiencing intimate partner rape, or about Indigenous women with this experience.

Importantly, this research has the potential to reduce the prevalence of intimate partner rape. For example, the literature suggests there are clear avenues to improve support for women experiencing rape by their partner:

There are two parts to our research:

(1) we plan to interview 10 women. We are hoping to include a number of Indigenous women. The criteria will be that women are aged over 18 and have identified themselves as having experienced intimate partner rape.

(2) we will interview workers from the service sector e.g. domestic violence workers, counsellors, police GPs, refuge workers).

These research findings may help shift the concept of rape in intimate relationships from mere theory and rhetoric to a concept that is understood in our community as a criminal act.

August 2006

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