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You can't undo violence - Our Watch launches new youth campaign

September 28 2015 By HANNAH GRANT

Our Watch has launched a national campaign, 'You can’t undo violence', to challenge young people’s attitudes about violence against women, its Chief Executive Officer, Paul Linossier announced today.

Campaign image - boy with tattoo. Image

“Research commissioned by Our Watch found that 1 in 4 young people aged 12 to 24 hold attitudes that put them at risk of perpetrating, excusing or tolerating violence against women,” said Mr Linossier.

“These young people are comfortable with coercive and disrespectful behaviours, are more likely to justify violence, and believe that being masculine means exerting power and control over their partners. 

“For example, these young people are more likely to keep, post, share and distribute nude photos of their ex-partner after a break-up. 1 in 4 say they would show the photos to their mates, and 15% say they would send the photos to the girl’s parents.

“One of the best chances we have to change these worrying attitudes is to engage young people when they are having their first relationships and this is where You can’t undo violence comes in,” he said.

Through advertising and a media partnership Australian Community Media, the campaign sends the message that there is no excuse for violence and there are lasting consequences if you hurt someone.

It defines what behaviours cross the line and shows that violence takes many forms: physical violence; sexual violence, emotional abuse, shaming and bullying, and controlling behaviour.

The campaign is part of The Line, a national initiative that encourages young people to reject violence and develop healthy, respectful and equal relationships. 

Luke Ablett, former Sydney Swans player, gender equity advocate and Ambassador for The Line, said that too many people think to be a ‘man’ means being violent. 

“There is more and more research that states young men use violence when their masculinity is challenged and they need to reclaim it. Or in other words, they act like a ‘man’ when they fear they’re acting too much like a ‘girl’,” he said.

“Young people’s attitudes reflect the messages they get from family, peers, popular culture and society more broadly. 

“Boys and girls, men and women, need positive, strong role models who challenge these outdated ideas of gender and promote more equal relationships between males and females. 

“To stop girls and women being hurt and killed, we must challenge and change the attitudes that excuse, condone or trivialise violence towards women,” said Mr Ablett.

The campaign encourages young people, parents and role models to visit The Line’s website to find out about the facts, myths, types and impacts of violence; and how they can take action to reject violence. 

“If you have crossed the line, there is support available so you can choose not to do it again. Visit the website for information about services that can help,” said Mr Linossier. 

Key statistics

Our Watch commissioned independent research in 2014 to inform The Line campaign, which surveyed 3,000 people, including 2,000 12 to 24 year olds. It revealed that some young people hold disturbing violence-supportive attitudes, for example:
  • 1 in 3 don’t think that exerting control over someone else is a form of violence.
  • 1 in 4 don’t think it’s serious when guys insult or verbally harass girls in the street.
  • 1 in 4 think it’s pretty normal for guys to pressure girls into sex.
  • 1 in 4 don’t think it’s serious if a guy, who’s normally gentle, sometimes slaps his girlfriend when he’s drunk and they’re arguing.
  • More than one quarter of young people think it’s important for men to be tough and strong.
  • 16 per cent of young people think that women should know their place. 

A snapshot of young people with violence-supportive attitudes

  • More than 1 in 4 young people aged 12 to 24 years (26%) hold attitudes that put them at risk of perpetrating, excusing or tolerating violence against women.
  • These young people are comfortable with coercive and disrespectful behaviours, are more likely to justify violence, and believe that being masculine means exerting power and control over their partners.
  • These young people are less likely to understand that violence isn’t always physical, and less likely than other young people to call out violence-supportive attitudes and behaviours.
  • These young people are more likely to be male, in their mid-teens, have experienced or perpetrated bullying or violence, and be consuming a high amount of sexually explicit material i.e. porn.

‘On the trajectory’

  • 9% (1 in 10) of young people aged 12 to 24 have very problematic attitudes, associated with high risk of perpetrating, tolerating or excusing violence against women. The researchers call this group ‘on the trajectory’. 
  • 77% of this group are male, and one-third are 14 to 15 years old.
  • Over 1 in 2 (55%) have experienced bullying or violence.
  • 1 in 4 access sexually explicit material i.e. porn at least once a day.
  • Almost 1 in 2 say they have, or might have, ‘crossed the line’ with someone else. 1 in 3 say someone has ‘crossed the line’ with them in a relationship.
  • These young people are more likely to keep, post, share and distribute nude photos of their ex-partner after a break-up. 
    • 1 in 4 say they would show the photos to their mates.
    • 15% say they would send the photos to the girl’s parents.

‘On the edge’

  • 17% (1 in 6) of young people aged 12 to 24 have attitudes that are associated with high risk of perpetrating, tolerating or excusing violence against women, albeit less so than the above group.
  • 65% of this group are male.
  • 1 in 6 say they have ‘crossed the line’ with someone else; 1 in 4 say they ‘maybe’ crossed the line.
  • 1 in 4 say someone has ‘crossed the line’ with them in a relationship.
  • 1 in 4 would keep nude photos of their ex-partner after a break-up.

‘Uneasy middle’

  • More than one-quarter of young people aged 12 to 24 fall into a group the researchers call ‘the uneasy middle’.
  • They tend to tolerate rape myths and gender stereotypes. However, they can be supported to build healthy, respectful attitudes and behaviours through clear guidance and good information.

Media contact

For enquiries or further information: Hannah Grant, Our Watch, mobile 0448 844 930, email Hannah.Grant@ourwatch.org.au

*If you cover this story, or any story regarding violence against women and children, please include the following tagline:

“If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000. For more information about a service in your state or local area download the DAISY App in the App Store or Google Play.”