Family violence is a term that is used to describe violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour that occurs within the context of a family.

Family violence is a similar term to ‘domestic violence’; however, it is particularly used in relation to violence that occurs in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander extended kinship and family networks.

These networks may include grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins and other kinships relationships that aren’t captured by the Western nuclear family model.

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

‘Family violence is a broader term that refers to violence between family members, as well as violence between intimate partners. It involves the same sorts of behaviours as described for domestic violence. As with domestic violence, the National Plan recognises that although only some aspects of family violence are criminal offences, any behaviour that causes the victim to live in fear is unacceptable. The term, ‘family violence’ is the most widely used term to identify the experiences of Indigenous people, because it includes the broad range of marital and kinship relationships in which violence may occur.’

The ACT Government’s Whole of Government Statement on Family Violence describes family violence as:

Family violence is a crime.  There can often be a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour, where one family member seeks to exert and maintain power and control over others. Family violence is predominantly characterised by men using violence against women.  As the ACT community confronts this challenge, it is critical that we recognise the gendered nature of family violence.’

‘Family violence occurs when actual or threatened physical violence, including sexual violence, is used against a person.  It also occurs when any family member uses violent and abusive behaviour to intimidate, frighten, harm, gain or maintain power and control over other family member/s.  This can include emotional, verbal and psychological abuse such as threats to harm children, bullying, withholding and controlling finances, harassment, stalking, intimidation, isolating behaviours, damage to property, cruelty to pets, manipulation and coercion. Family violence is often hidden; behaviours which may appear minor or trivial in isolation, when viewed together can form a pattern of abuse and control.’

‘Family violence can also involve dating partners, same-sex couples, siblings, parents or step parents, older family members, carers, women using violence and other family relationship combinations including extended family.’