Domestic violence takes many forms. It involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by a partner, former partner, carer, housemate or family member in order to control, dominate, humiliate or instil fear.

This behaviour can take many forms. It may involve

  • physical violence;
  • controlling who you see or what you do;
  • emotional abuse such as insults, manipulation, threats;
  • financial abuse, such as controlling access to money;
  • spiritual or cultural violence, such as denigrating your religious, cultural or spiritual beliefs or preventing you from practicing these beliefs;
  • stalking or other kinds of harassment;
  • sexual violence, including coercion; and
  • other forms of behaviour that are used to control you, make you afraid, or to diminish your sense of self-worth.

The National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010 – 2022 says:

Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship. While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear, for example by using behaviour which is violent and threatening. In most cases, the violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics to exercise power and control over women and their children, and can be both criminal and non-criminal. Domestic violence includes physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse.’

‘Physical violence can include slaps, shoves, hits, punches, pushes, being thrown down stairs or across the room, kicking, twisting of arms, choking, and being burnt or stabbed.’

Sexual assault or sexual violence can include rape, sexual assault with implements, being forced to watch or engage in pornography, enforced prostitution, and being made to have sex with friends of the perpetrator.

‘Psychological and emotional abuse can include a range of controlling behaviours such as control of finances, isolation from family and friends, continual humiliation, threats against children or being threatened with injury or death.’