Domestic and family violence

  • Domestic and family violence happens when one person in a relationship hurts another or makes them feel unsafe, and is a repeated pattern of behaviour
  • It can happen in any kind of relationship — not just with husbands and wives or boyfriends and girlfriends (intimate partners)
  • Abuse doesn't have to involve hurt to your body, or physical violence, to be domestic or family violence
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat.

Who is affected by domestic and family violence?

Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone — regardless of country, religion, sexuality, gender, social background socio-economic status, age or culture.

It can also happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Carers or paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians or other family members
  • Adult children
  • Other people you live with or see often, whether inside or outside the home

None of these people has the right to hurt you or make you live in fear. 

What does domestic and family violence involve?

Domestic and family violence can involve behaviour that makes you feel scared, involve threats to you, your children or pets, and denies your choice. It is an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. It is not always physical.

People who use this kind of violence are sometimes called 'perpetrators of violence'.

Domestic and family violence is an ongoing repeated pattern of behaviour to control you. It is not always physical.

What is a pattern of control?

Domestic and family violence involves a pattern of abusive behaviour that aims to scare and control you. The words 'pattern of control' or 'pattern of coercion and control' are often used to describe this kind of violence. 

Patterns of control can take different forms in different relationships. In some relationships, stopping you from taking medicine you need is a pattern of control. Someone threatening to kill or hurt themselves when you try to leave the relationship might be part of a pattern of control. If you have a disability and access support, taking away that support in order to control you is another example of a pattern of control.

What forms can domestic and family violence take?

It is never OK for someone in a relationship to:

  • Tell you they will hurt you, your children, your pets, or people you care about
  • Say they will hurt themselves if you try to leave
  • Cut you off from friends or family
  • Refuse to provide essential care and support for you if they are your parent, guardian, carer, or paid support person
  • Make looking after a baby hard by not letting you feed or settle your baby
  • Scare you by following you, harassing you, or refusing to leave you alone
  • Use the legal system to bully or intimidate you
  • Stop you from making decisions about whether or not to have a baby, or other reproductive issues
  • Stop you from having medicine you need or from seeing a doctor
  • Give you medicine you don't need or more medicine than you need
  • Take your money or use money to make your life hard
  • Touch you in ways or places you don’t want to be touched
  • Force you to have sex or do sexual things
  • Say and do things that make you feel scared or unsafe
  • Share private photos or videos of you online without your permission
  • Stop you from following your religion or cultural practices
  • Damage walls, parts of your home, or your things
  • Hit, kick, and do other things that hurt your body.

These are only some things that domestic and family violence may involve. There are many others. If anyone is making you feel scared, worried or unsafe, it is OK to ask for help.