Commissioned research

Improving legal, policy and practice responses to the intersection of domestic violence perpetration and child sexual abuse offending

  • Justice
  • Victims & survivors
Project Length
24 months
Project Budget
(funded by National Centre)
Funding Stream

Project Lead

Scientia Associate Professor Michael Salter, University of New South Wales

Project Team

Associate Professor Molly Dragiewicz, Griffith University

Dr Delanie Woodlock, Monash University

Angela Lynch, Queensland Sexual Assault Network

Dr Cate Banks, Monash University

Kathleen Maltzahn, Sexual Assault Services Victoria

Professor Jan Breckenridge, University of New South Wales

Di McLeod, Gold Coast Centre against Sexual Violence

Background and Aim

This project will provide essential insights into the challenges of responding effectively to the intersections of domestic and family violence and familial child sexual abuse. Domestic and family violence perpetrators are at increased risk of sexually abusing their children, however, responses to both are siloed and lack coordination. This project aims to investigate how legal systems respond when child sexual abuse is reported in the context of domestic and family violence, explore how the co-occurrence of child sexual abuse and domestic and family violence is managed by services, and examine the lived experience of the intersection of domestic and family violence and child sexual abuse from the perspective of survivors.


This mixed methods project will include a content analysis of Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia cases, interviews and focus groups with up to 30 practitioners, and interviews with up to 10 adult victims and survivors whose mother or stepmother was subjected to domestic and family violence, and 10 domestic and family violence survivors whose children were sexually abused by the perpetrator.


This project will create new knowledge about cases in which child sexual abuse occurs in the context of domestic and family violence, how legal systems respond, and how services manage these cases. The project will document the complexities faced by victims and survivors, as well as the professionals involved in their cases, and will make evidence-based recommendations to improve outcomes.

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