What is family and domestic violence

Any behaviour that’s violent, threatening, controlling or intended to make you or your family feel scared and unsafe can be considered family and domestic violence.

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Family and domestic violence

To access 24/7 counselling and support, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.

Family and domestic violence can affect anyone in all types of relationships. It can occur in:

  • past or current intimate relationships, including relationships where you are dating or living together, regardless of gender or sexuality
  • relationships involving carers of people with a disability or a medical condition, or elders
  • relationships with relatives and guardians
  • culturally recognised family groups.

Family and domestic violence isn’t always physical. It can happen to anyone, at any time, no matter their age, gender or sexual orientation. It can happen anywhere, including at home, institutions such as a school, religious setting or care home, or at work.

It can continue even when you’ve left a violent relationship.

Family and domestic violence is always the fault of the person causing the abuse. It’s never the fault of the person experiencing abusive behaviour.

Watch this video about family and domestic violence.

Controlling behaviour

Controlling behaviour, also known as coercive control, makes you do or believe things you wouldn’t normally. You may be stopped from seeing people, leaving the house or doing other activities important to you.

Physical violence

Physical violence is any violent behaviour or threats of violence. It can be directed at you, your children, other family, friends, pets or property.

It might be:

  • hitting
  • kicking
  • pushing
  • choking
  • threats of violence or intimidation.

Sexual assault

Sexual assault is any sexual behaviour you don’t want, such as being forced into sexual activity against your will or inappropriate touching. This includes being coerced or manipulated into sexual behaviour.

Emotional abuse

Emotional abuse is any behaviour that makes you feel worthless and put down. This can include yelling, insulting, calling you names or a slur and swearing.


Stalking is behaviour to harass or intimidate. This could be:

  • repeated phone calls or messages
  • unwanted or obsessive attention
  • someone following or monitoring you.

Technology facilitated abuse

Technology facilitated abuse is when someone monitors what you do online. This may include:

  • checking your computer and phone use
  • using spyware on your phone to track you
  • publishing intimate photos of you without your consent
  • sharing or threatening to share photos or messages with the intention of outing your sexuality or gender identity, putting you at risk of stigma, discrimination or harm.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is behaviour limiting your access to money. Warning signs might be:

  • taking or using your money without your permission
  • not being allowed to work
  • having to account for how you spend your money
  • withholding financial information from you
  • spending any payments you get from us without your consent.
Page last updated: 19 March 2024.
QC 60034