What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can happen to anyone and can take many forms.

It’s an abuse of power and control that usually involves a pattern of violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by a partner, ex-partner, carer or family member to control, dominate or instil fear.

Domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical abuse. It can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or other types of behaviour that exert power and control.

Domestic violence is in every community and can affect anyone regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, age, culture, ethnicity, religion, disability, economic status or location.

Women and children are overwhelmingly the victims of domestic and family violence, and perpetrators are overwhelmingly male.

A person does not need to be married or in a current relationship for it to be considered domestic violence.

It can be perpetrated by a partner, family member, carer, boyfriend or girlfriend.

Domestic and family violence can include the following types of abuse:


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • swearing and continual humiliation, either in private or in public
  • attacks following clear themes that focus on intelligence, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent or partner.
  • putting someone down


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • driving dangerously
  • destruction of property
  • abuse of pets in front of family members
  • making threats regarding custody of any children
  • asserting that the police and justice system will not assist, support or believe the victim
  • threatening to 'out' the person's sexuality, intersex or gender


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • blaming the victim for all problems in the relationship
  • constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine self-esteem and self-worth
  • sporadic sulking
  • withdrawing all interest and engagement (for example weeks of silence)
  • emotional blackmail and suicidal threats
  • threats to harm oneself, pets, children or other family members


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • systematic isolation from family and friends through techniques such as ongoing rudeness to alienate them
  • instigating and controlling the move to a location where the victim has no established social circle or employment opportunities
  • restricting use of the car or telephone or internet
  • forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people.


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • complete control of all money
  • restricting access to bank accounts
  • providing only an inadequate 'allowance'
  • not allowing someone to seek or have a job
  • coercement to sign documents, take out loans or make false declarations
  • using all wages earned by the victim for household expenses
  • controlling the victim's pension
  • denying that the victim has an entitlement to joint property


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • direct assault on the body (strangulation or choking, shaking, eye injuries, biting, slapping, pushing, spitting, punching, or kicking)
  • use of weapons including objects
  • assault of children
  • locking the victim in or out of the house
  • forcing the victim to take drugs, withholding medication, food or medical care
  • sleep deprivation
  • controlling access to medications


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • any form of pressured/unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent
  • forcing someone to watch explicit material against their will
  • causing pain during sex
  • assaulting genitals
  • coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection
  • making someone perform sexual acts unwillingly
  • taking photos or distributing them without the subject’s consent
  • criticising or using sexually degrading insults


This can include, but is not limited to:

  • following and watching
  • monitoring someone’s movements
  • sending harassing text messages or getting someone else to do it
  • telephone and online harassment
  • tracking with Global Positioning Systems (GPS) or through social media or online interactions
  • being intimidating

A person does not need to experience all of these types of abuse for it to be considered domestic or family violence.

If you believe that you may be experiencing domestic violence support is available.

In NSW you can call the DV Line 24/7 on 1800 65 64 63

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) is the National Sexual Assault and Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service and has trained counsellors available 24/7.


If you are in danger always call NSW Police 000