Understanding Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic and family violence includes any behaviour, in a current or previous relationship, which is violent, threatening, coercive or controlling or causing a person to live in fear. It occurs across cultures, race, socio-economic background, sexual identity and gender.

In Australia

On average one woman is murdered a week by her current or former partner.

1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse from a current or previous partner.

1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.

More than two thirds (68%) of mothers who had children in their care when they experienced violence from their partner said children had seen or heard the violence.

The cost of violence against women and their children to the Australian economy has been estimated to be $21.7 billion a year, with projections suggesting that if no further actions are taken to prevent violence against women, costs will accumulate to $323.4 billion over a thirty year period from 2014-2015 to 2044-2045.

Source: https://www.ourwatch.org.au/quick-facts/

Source date: 12 October 2020

Domestic Violence can be...


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  • Hitting, kicking, stabbing, choking, pushing, spitting, pulling hair, burning and biting
  • Locking partner in or out of the house or rooms
  • Throwing objects
  • Withholding medical care, food and sleep
  • Murder


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  • Rape
  • Sexual assault and sexual harassment
  • Using sexually degrading insults
  • Unwanted exposure to pornography
  • Sharing sexual images of a partner without permission

Harassment and Stalking

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  • Harassment via the telephone or online
  • Stalking and tracking with GPS
  • Intimidation
  • Entering the home without permission
  • Harassment via email


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  • Forcing unprotected sex
  • Forcing partner to become pregnant or have an abortion
  • Knowingly passing on a sexually transmitted infection
  • Controlling birth control
  • Limiting access to sexual health services

Emotional and Verbal

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  • Put-downs and verbal abuse
  • Humiliating comments, name-calling and undermining self-worth
  • Screaming and shouting
  • Gaslighting
  • Threats of violence
  • Withdrawing all interest and engagement 
  • Emotional manipulation
  • Suicidal threats


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  • Isolating the partner from friends and family
  • Monitoring and controlling movements
  • Abusing in company
  • Restricting the use of the car or telephone
  • Forbidding the partner from going out and meeting people


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  • Controlling or denying money
  • Forbidding access to bank accounts
  • Not allowing the partner to work
  • Denying entitlement to jointly owned property
  • Accruing debt in the partner's name, such as fines or using their credit card

Spiritual or Religious

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  • Using spiritual or religious beliefs to scare, physically hurt or control
  • Forbidding or shaming spiritual or religious beliefs
  • Forcing the partner and children to take part in spiritual or religious beliefs that they don’t agree with
  • Using religious or spiritual teachings to force the partner to stay in the relationship, and or excuse violent behaviour

Domestic Violence and Abuse is

About power and control

Characterised by a pattern of coercive controlling behaviours and tactics

Driven by social rather than biological causes


Domestic violence has serious and harmful impacts that can be long lasting on victims and their children.

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