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True extent of sexual violence may be skewed study

The true extent of sexual violence between intimate partners may be skewed because some intervention workers aren't capturing the risk when assessing perpetrators, a study suggests.

One in five practitioners working in domestic violence intervention programs rarely or never assess the risk of intimate partner sexual violence when reviewing perpetrators for programs, the Monash University study found.

Additionally, 40 per cent of practitioners risk assess for sexual violence less frequently compared with other forms of family violence.

The study sheds light on significant gaps in identifying, assessing and responding to intimate partner sexual violence when working with perpetrators, lead author Nicola Helps said.

"Our study highlights limitations to practitioners' training and comfort in relation to intimate partner sexual violence," Dr Helps said.

"Importantly, practitioners spoke about wanting further training to support improved practice in responding to intimate partner sexual violence.

"There is an opportunity to develop training to better support practitioners to undertake this work."

Dr Helps is a Monash Gender and Family Violence Prevention Centre postdoctoral research fellow.

The study was based on a survey of almost 100 practitioners working in family violence perpetrator intervention programs.

One in four professionals did not have any training about intimate partner sexual violence, it found.

The research was conducted in partnership with No to Violence, which runs the national counselling, information and referral service for men who use violence against women.

The organisation's chief executive Jacqui Watt supported the push for better training.

"Unless all frontline workers are well-versed in assessing risk of sexual violence alongside family violence, we can't assess the risk he is (posing) to the family," she said.

Men should contact the Men's Referral Service if they were concerned about their behaviour or someone else using violence, the researchers said.

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