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Social abuse

  • Social abuse is behaviour that aims to cut you off from your friends, family or community
  • It can also involve attempts to harm your relationships or reputation
  • Social abuse can be a form of domestic and family violence
  • If you or someone you know is experiencing social abuse, you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat

What is social abuse?

Social abuse is behaviour that aims to cut you off from your family, friends, or community. It can also involve a person or people trying to damage your relationships with others. People who are socially abusive may also attempt to make you look bad or ruin your reputation. Social abuse can include things done in the home, in public, over the phone, or on the internet and social media.

There may be a pattern to the behaviour that happens again and again. Sometimes other types of abuse are going on at the same time. If this kind of abuse is being used to scare and control you it may be domestic or family violence. 

Social abuse might include:
  • Stopping you from seeing friends, family, or other people
  • Not allowing you outside your home, room, or accommodation facility
  • Not allowing you to participate in social and community activities
  • Needing to know everywhere you have been or are going
  • Needing to know everyone you have seen or are planning to see
  • Checking or interfering with your mail, phone, email or social media
  • Sharing private photos or videos of you online without your permission
  • Using social media or the internet to spread lies or damaging information about you
  • Telling lies about you to friends and family or trying to turn others against you
  • Deliberately doing things to make you miss, or be late for, events, appointments or meetings
  • Deliberately doing things to make you look bad or embarrass you in front of others
  • Restricting access to your car, other forms of transport, wheelchair, or mobility aids

Social abuse can be a form of domestic or family violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing social abuse it is OK to ask for help.

Who is responsible for social abuse?

Social abuse can 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 harm or interfere with your relationships or reputation.