What is domestic violence?

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Domestic violence is when one person behaves in a way that controls or dominates another person and causes fear for their safety and wellbeing.

Domestic violence is usually a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour taking many forms. It happens in intimate, family or informal care relationships.

Regardless of age, culture, sexuality or gender identity, you have the right to live without fear.

Watch the video: What is domestic violence?

Behaviours that are domestic violence

Domestic violence includes a wide range of behaviours that control or dominate someone, or cause them to fear for their personal safety or wellbeing. These behaviours may include:

  • physical or sexual abuse—punching, hitting, choking, or threatening to punch or hit, forcing a person to participate in sexual acts, damaging someone’s property or threatening to damage property, including hurting or threatening to hurt pets
  • emotional or psychological abuse—stalking, repeated text messaging, making insulting comments, calling someone names, blackmailing or extorting, preventing contact with family and/or friends, controlling someone’s appearance, putting them down, threatening to expose their sexual orientation
  • economic abuse—denying, withholding, controlling or misusing money or property, or threatening to do so
  • threatening behaviour—saying things or acting in a way to make someone feel afraid, threating to commit suicide or self-harm, stalking
  • coercive behaviour—forcing, intimidating or manipulating a person to do things they don’t want to do, such as sign a contract (e.g. for a loan) or a legal document giving another person power over their affairs (e.g. power of attorney).

Domestic violence extends to children seeing violence, like their parent being hurt, being called names, things being broken or police arriving.

Domestic violence relationships

Violence is considered domestic violence when any of the behaviours listed above take place in any of these relationships:

  • an intimate personal relationship—two people (regardless of gender) who are, or were, a couple, engaged, married, in a de facto relationship, the parents of a child or in a registered relationship (a legally recognised relationship between two people regardless of gender)
  • a family relationship—two relatives (by marriage or blood), including a child over 18, parent, stepchild, stepparent, brother, sister, grandparent, aunt, uncle, nephew or niece, as for some community groups, a person who is not related by blood or marriage but is considered a relative
  • an informal care relationship—one person who is, or was, depending on another person for help with daily living activities. (Note: It is not considered ‘domestic’ violence when a person is a paid carer under a commercial arrangement.)