Four in ten Aussies think women use sexual assault claims for revenge - survey

Long Lunch 04/12/2018
Christine Blasey testifying against Brett Kavanaugh.

A national survey has revealed a concerning number of Australians believe women lie or exaggerate about sexual abuse.

Some 17,500 Australians were interviewed in the National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women Survey, where they were asked to agree or disagree with statements about sexual and domestic violence.

Almost half of all respondents (42 percent) believed that sexual assault accusations were commonly used as a way of getting back at men.

People just can't believe it's that prevalent in the community.

Nearly the same proportion (43 percent) believe women “make up” claims of abuse when going through child custody battles in court.

Kristin Diemer, senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne, says these kind of attitudes are a sort of "backlash" to the worldwide #MeToo movement.

"People just can't believe it's that prevalent in the community," she told RadioLIVE.

While the survey revealed the overall attitudes are improving, it found concerning figures about the extent that Australians trust women's reports of male violence.

One-third (31 percent) believed women who make rape allegations had led the man on and then later regretted the interaction. And 23 percent said women tend to exaggerate the problem of male violence.

"It's been part of this victim-blaming attitude that’s been prevalent for a long time," said Dr Diemer.

Despite the figures, Dr Diemer emphasised that false allegations of violence are rare.

Indeed, a review of research from the United States' National Sexual Violence Resource Center shows about 63 percent of sexual assaults are never reported and only 2 to 10 percent of reports are false.

Dr Diemer told RadioLIVE that Australian men over the age of 65 and those who work in male-dominated industries were more likely to hold attitudes supportive of violence against women. 

Listen to the full interview with Kristin Diemer above.

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