Understanding Domestic & Family Violence

Domestic and family violence can take many forms and can affect anyone, regardless of race, culture, age, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity or economic status. It can occur between intimate partners, ex-partners and other family members.

Living with domestic and family violence can be overwhelming. Your health and self-esteem can be affected, you may feel that you can’t make good decisions or you may believe that the abuse is your fault. Older people and people with disabilities may feel particularly trapped and powerless and may be afraid or embarrassed to tell anyone.

Things will not change if you don’t tell someone. Reading this information is the start of letting go of your fear and choosing a life free of abuse.

“Life always offers you a second chance. It’s called tomorrow.” – Anonymous


Some Forms of Domestic and Family ViolencePhysical-Sexual-Violence-Wheel

  • Intimidation is any behaviour that makes you fearful. This can include threatening body language, verbal or written threats to harm you or your family.
  • Physical abuse includes causing physical harm to you, your children, family, friends, pets or property.
  • Sexual abuse includes any forced or unwanted sexual activity or interaction.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse is behaviour that undermines your sense of self or destroys your self-confidence. This may include calling you names, controlling what you wear, isolating you from friends and family or blaming you for the abuse.
  • Cultural abuse is when you are abused or made fun of because of your culture, religion or traditions. This may include threatening to cancel your visa, isolating you from your community or ridiculing your customs.
  • Spiritual abuse includes ridiculing your beliefs, controlling your religion or spiritual practices or using your beliefs to manipulate you.
  • Financial or economic abuse is when control of your financial resources is taken away. This includes not allowing you to work, not allowing you to be involved in financial decisions and taking your wages.
  • Cyber harassment includes using social media, texting or other communication technology to harass or intimidate you.
  • Maternal alienation is when an abuser alienates your children from you. This may include convincing schools, family, friends and neighbours that you are ‘mad’ or ‘bad’.
  • Systems abuse is when an abuser contacts services such as Centrelink, Community Services or the court system and gives false information to cause you problems.
  • Elder abuse is when your family, carers or people you know, abuse you in your own home or other residential settings such as nursing homes or respite centres.