One-third of Australians surveyed think women use sexual assault claims as retribution and nearly one in four believe women make allegations because they regret consensual sex, as government-funded research shows a backlash in attitudes to women.
The National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey, which is held every four years, found 35 per cent of 19,100 respondents agreed “it is common for sexual assault accusations to be used as a way of getting back at men”.
Meanwhile, 24 per cent agreed “a lot of times, women who say they were raped had led the man on and then had regrets”.
Australian research has found false allegations of sexual assault are extremely rare and 87 per cent of victim-survivors do not tell police.
The study, released on Wednesday by Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety, measures changes in attitudes between 2017 and 2021, and shows that while most people reject attitudes condoning violence against women, there was no improvement in rejection of domestic violence.
Improved attitudes to sexual violence and gender inequality were significant, but even so, “some respondents endorsed hostile gendered stereotypes of women as malicious, vengeful and untrustworthy”.
Significant mistrust of women was shown by the 37 per cent of respondents who thought those in custody battles “often make up or exaggerate claims of domestic violence to improve their case”, and that many women exaggerate the extent of men’s violence against women (23 per cent).
Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of respondents thought “a lot of what is called domestic violence is really just a normal reaction to day-to-day stress and frustration” and less than half believe it happens in their suburb.
Two in five people wrongly believed women and men were equally likely to perpetrate domestic violence, when data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows 75 per cent of family violence victims identify the perpetrator as male, compared with 25 per cent reporting them as female.
Some believed, incorrectly, that men and women are equally likely to suffer harm from domestic violence (21 per cent) and fear from it (28 per cent).