Around one in seven young Australians surveyed believe a man would be "justified to force sex" if a woman "initiated it" but then changed her mind and pushed him away.
The views of 1,761 Australians aged between 16 and 24 were recorded as part of the larger 2017 National Community Attitudes towards Violence against Women survey.
Today Victoria's health promotion foundation VicHealth and Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety, a government funded non-profit research hub, have released the data.
Nearly a third of young men surveyed believe many women who say they’ve been raped had instead led the man on and then had regrets.
Brisbane youth worker Nadia Saeed visits schools and universities as part of the R4Respect education strategy to foster healthier relationships among young people.
"A lot of young people find the concept of consent blurry and they don't understand it," Saeed told BuzzFeed News. "We do find quite often that they don't understand that consent is ongoing and that if you consent at 6pm it doesn't mean that consent is still valid at 12pm."
Over a quarter of young people surveyed blame women for sending nude images, instead of her partner for sharing it without her consent.
"We try to explain to young people that there are so many consequences for sharing these image and it can be detrimental to their futures," Saeed said. "If someone does send you a nude and you go and share those images with other people that is wrong and, under Queensland's law at least, it is soliciting child pornography."
Saeed said there was much to be hopeful about in the survey results, including an uptick in understanding of violence against women as harmful.
"We can use results from surveys like this to our advantage and educate people, because we need to create change when people are forming their ideas of what a relationship is before those more serious relationships."
The survey found problematic attitudes to violence against women and gender equality were more common among young people with mainly male friends.
One in five young men surveyed did not understand that using technology to track their partner’s movements, such as logging into her social media accounts or installing spyware on her phone, was abusive behaviour.
Melbourne woman Lily — a pseudonym to protect her privacy — says her ex-boyfriend would badger her all day with texts and phone calls, keeping constant tabs on where she was and with who.
“One night I was out with a friend of mine and she had posted on her Instagram story and he saw where we were and within 15 minutes he was at the venue,” the 24-year-old told BuzzFeed News.
“He stormed in… he didn’t like me going anywhere without him so even if I wanted to have a girls' night he would say “OK well I’ll meet you after’.
“It got to the point where I couldn’t do anything alone or even with one friend.”
Almost a quarter of young men surveyed said they think women find it flattering to be persistently pursued, even if they aren’t interested.
Lily said her ex-boyfriend demanded that she share her passwords to her social media accounts and when she refused he “bartered” by offering his own passwords.
“I knew it wasn’t OK but he didn’t see the big deal,” she said.
“He would say ‘if you don’t have anything to hide what does it matter?’ and as soon as I didn’t want to share something, a switch in his mind flicked and it went to the worse case scenario and we’d just start arguing.”
He assumed she was “talking to other people” or “cheating on him”, Lily said.
When Lily went on an overseas trip she said her boyfriend expected to be called in every gap of her itinerary, of which he had a copy.
“Every day he made me not only talk to him but we had to FaceTime and he couldn’t understand that I might want to use the free time in my itinerary to explore where I was,” she said.
“One day when I turned my phone off he called the hotel and was transferred to my room.”
Lily said there were so many days during that relationship where she felt like she was a “really bad person” because she wasn’t meeting his expectations.
“I think it is really important for girls, and guys to an extent, to understand just because you’re not being physically abused it doesn’t mean you’re not being emotionally manipulated,” she said.
“You can’t feel bad for doing what is right for you, and you have to take a step back and ask yourself if this was happening to my best friend, would I be OK with this, and what would I say to them?”
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Gina Rushton is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
Contact Gina Rushton at email@example.com.
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