Definition of Domestic Violence

The Following Links are bookmarked further down the page

What is domestic and family violence

The Impact of Domestic Violence on Women

Myths & Facts

 Where to go for help

What is a Women’s Refuge/Shelter?

What is Domestic Violence?

If you have experienced violence and abuse from your ex partner you are not alone:

At least 23% of women in Australia have experienced domestic or family violence, and as the latest Australian Bureau of statistics figures point out, this accounts for around 2.2 million women.

It is a pattern of abusive behaviour through which a person seeks to control and dominate another person.

Survivors of violence and abuse begin recovery when they are in a safe and secure setting, their rights to safety are recognised and there is an absence of danger.

It is widely recognised that women experience domestic violence at far greater rates than men do, and women and children often live in fear as a result of the abuse that is used by men to maintain control over their partners.

Domestic and family violence occurs in all sections of our community and across all cultures. Being abused is NOT a normal part of domestic and/or family life.

Domestic violence is often not recognized by others, particularly if it is the more subtle psychological and emotional abuse. A Woman herself may not recognize that what is happening is domestic violence.

Domestic and family violence occurs when someone in an intimate or familial relationship attempts to gain and/or maintain power and control over another through a wide range of abusive behaviors:

A single act may amount to abuse. A number of acts that form part of a pattern of behaviours may amount to abuse, even though some or all of those acts, when viewed in isolation, may appear to be minor or trivial.

Relationship violence usually does not take the form of a single incident. It is ongoing behaviour that gradually undermines the victim’s confidence and ability to leave the violent person. The severity and frequency of violence often escalate over time.

Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.

Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn't always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting your partner, and change what you do to avoid their anger, then this is a sign that you are being abused.

All forms of abuse - psychological, economic, emotional and physical - come from the abuser’s desire for power and control.

This list can help you to recognise if you, or someone you know, are in an abusive relationship.

Psychological Abuse:

• Behavior and/or comments to undermine your sense of self

• name-calling or putdowns,

• intimidation,

• sulking; threatening to withhold money, disconnect the telephone, take the car away,
• lying to your friends and family about you; telling you that you have no choice in any decisions.

• commit suicide, take the children away, report you to welfare agencies unless you comply with his demands regarding bringing up the children;

Verbal Abuse

• constant put-downs,

• name calling,

• making harassing or threatening phone calls.

• Says things to scare you (e.g., told you something "bad" would happen; threatened to commit suicide).

• Used the children to threaten you (e.g., told you that you would lose custody; said he would leave town with the children).

Physical Abuse

• Actual or threatened physical harm e.g. Injured you by causing bruises, cuts, broken bones, slapping, punching, pushing, choking, being threatened or injured with objects/weapons, destroying or damaging property.

• Making threats to hurt you and/or your children,

• denial of sleep, warmth or nutrition;

• denial of needed medical care,

• Driving recklessly while you and/or your children were in the car etc.

Social Abuse

• Controlling where you go, who you see, what you wear.

• Keeping you from contacting family or friends.

• Preventing someone from leaving the house.

• Preventing someone from going to a place of worship or praying

• Making all the ‘big’ decisions,

• checks up on you (e.g., listened to your phone calls, checked the mileage on the car, called you repeatedly at work).

• Refused to do housework or child care,

• making you feel guilty about going to work or socialising,

  • controlling your use of mobiles, phones and internet and use of the family car

• constantly checking up on your whereabouts etc

Sexual Abuse

• any forced or unwanted sexual contact/activity,

• Pressured you to have sex when you didn't want to (will not take no for an answer),

• forcing you to have sex or to do sexual acts you do not want or like,

• raping you.

Humiliation can often play a part in sexual abuse


Forcing you to have sex is a criminal offence, even if you are married. 

Reproductive control

This has links with sexual abuse, but is uniquely related to women’s (particularly young women’s) ability to control their own reproductive health, eg for example, use or non-use of contraception/ contraceptive method, forcing you to make decisions around pregnancy and/or termination, and having little say in the number and timing of your children.

Financial Abuse


• When your partner takes control of your financial affairs when you don't want him to, or

• prevents you from having access to money. Denying access to bank accounts, forcing the surrender of bankcards and credit cards to gain control of your income

• preventing you from seeking or maintaining employment,

  • making you ask for money for basic items such as food, petrol and clothing, and forcing you to provide receipts to account for your spending.

• refusing to give someone enough money to live on.

Property Damage

• kicking a hole in the wall,

• scratching your car,

• taking away or breaking things that are important to the abused person,

• Abusing a family pet.


Stalking is behaviour intended to harass, intimidate and torment another person. Stalking includes a range of behaviours such as:

• Repeated phone calls• Sending letters, faxes or e-mails, using social media (such as signing into your Facebook or twitter accounts)

• Loitering near a Woman’s residence or place of work

Spying on or openly watching a Woman

• Following a Woman

• Harming pets

• Organizing unwanted home deliveries

• Sending flowers or chocolates

• Damaging property

• Moving belongings around

• Changing details on personal identification.

Technological abuse

This is an emerging form of abuse that is linked to stalking, psychological abuse and other forms of domestic violence. It can mean that technology is used to directly or indirectly monitor and stalk you. This can sometimes occur without your knowing, such as personal information being posted on websites and tracking devices being installed in cars and mobile phones eg GPS, spyware, listening devices, hidden cameras, and keystroke-logging hardware.



For more information : Duluth's Power and Control Wheel here

Impact of Domestic Violence On Women

When a Woman is constantly abused and put down she may start to think of herself as worthless. Many women feel powerless. Many women stay in abusive relationships because they are too afraid to leave. If a Woman does decide to separate, it is not unusual for her to return to her abusive partner, particularly when appropriate support and assistance is not available.

Domestic violence can have long-term effects on a Woman. There may be emotional problems such as difficulty in trusting others. She may also suffer long-term effects on her health from physical injuries.

Not all the long-term effects are negative. Often a Woman dealing with domestic violence has developed incredible strengths in order to survive. To come out and move in to a new life living through years of violence is usually an extremely positive experience.

How women may be feeling?

All forms of abuse have damaging consequences.

Some of the ways that you may have been feeling include:

• Feeling worthless and lacking self confidence,

• Ashamed and afraid of letting others know about the abuse

• Feel that you are to blame for the abuse

• Hopeless and sad because you have tried everything

• Depressed and lonely

• Afraid of what he might do if you leave or seek help

• Afraid that no-one will believe you

• Scared of coping on our own

• Confused

Remember, you're not to blame for the abuse. You have a right to feel safe and to live a life free from intimidation. See website links

Myths & Facts



Myth: Only a small number of people in our community experience domestic violence.
Fact: Violence against women is a major issue in Australian society. It is also a hidden crime because it usually happens in the privacy of the home, and has low levels of reporting.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) National Survey in 2006 stated that over one third of Australian women reported experiencing one incident of physical violence or sexual violence since the age of 15. In any one year, nearly half a million Australian women experience physical or sexual assault (ABS 2006). A Victorian study in 2004 by VIC Health found that violence against women is the leading contributor to death, disability and illness in Victorian women aged 15-44, being responsible for more disease burden that many well-known preventable risk factors such as high blood pressure, smoking and obesity.

Myth: Domestic and family violence only happens in certain cultures or communities.
Fact: Violence against women occurs in ALL communities regardless of cultural, education or socio-economic background. Certain cultural groups may get more media exposure on the issue of Domestic Violence, and some communities have higher rates of Domestic and Family Violence specifically areas of economic or social disadvantage (Flood 2007). However it’s important to know that domestic violence impacts on all communities and cultures.

Myth: Violent men are violent in their relationships because they are stressed.
Fact: Like alcohol, stress is often used as an excuse for domestic and family violence. This means something else is always to blame for the violence –work, lack of work, the neighbours, the children, financial difficulties etc., and stops the perpetrator being responsible for his/her violence. There are no excuses that can be used to justify violence against women and children. The majority of individuals who are stressed are not violent. If someone is stressed they should seek support and assistance from their GP and appropriate services.

Myth: It’s easy to leave a violent and controlling relationship.
Fact: It‘s extremely difficult to leave a violent and controlling relationship. Women can often leave many times before they permanently leave a violent and controlling relationship.
There are many reasons for this including:

  • the shame / embarrassment / humiliation associated with admitting you’re in a violent relationship
  • still caring for their partners
  • believing that the violence is their own fault
  • limited or no access to financial assistance due to financial dependence
  • lack of awareness of support services
  • threat of suicide
  • fear of isolation from community and support networks
  • fear that the perpetrator will kill her or their children
  • fear of rejection by friends and family
  • a belief that families should stick together
  • a belief that the situation will get better
  • a belief that no-one else will love her
  • a religious commitment to a partner
  • fear of losing children in a custody battle, especially if the domestic violence hasn’t been documented
  • fear of the legal system and the police
  • low self-esteem and self-confidence.

Society can also hold women accountable for looking after relationships and blame women for a relationship failing, implying that she deserved or incited the violence somehow.

Myth: If women don't like it they can leave. Leaving a violent partner means the abuse will stop.
Fact: Women often believe it’s impossible to escape the violence and abuse. They are often threatened with death if they leave. In some cases, violence, harassment and intimidation can escalate during separation and can result in serious injury and sometimes death.

Women also often believe they and their children will be destined to a life of poverty if they leave. Obtaining suitable accommodation for themselves and their children is often difficult, particularly in regional and remote areas.

Myth: Some religions support domestic and family violence.
Fact: Abusers may use their religion as an excuse for their violence. There is nothing to support the view that it is God’s will for people to endure family violence. Use of scripture to justify domestic and family violence is unacceptable. Some women may feel pressure from their faith or community to ‘honour’ their commitment to marriage and stay in the abusive relationship. They may think that to leave or get a divorce is against their religious beliefs. Religion is no excuse for domestic and family violence.

Myth: Violent men come from violent homes.
Fact: The relationship between exposure to violence in childhood and becoming an adult perpetrator is a complex one. There are many factors that contribute to someone becoming a person who uses violence in their relationship.

Whilst it is true that some men who are violent to women do come from violent backgrounds, many men who abuse women do not. Other men who do come from abusive backgrounds do not abuse women. They choose to deal with their problems in a non-violent and constructive way.

Myth: All men are violent.
Fact: The majority of men and young men in our community are not violent. The use of violence is a choice. Men who use violence in their relationships choose where and when they are violent. The large majority of offenders who assault their partners control their violence with others, such as friends or work colleagues, where there is no perceived right to dominate and control.

Stating that 'All men are violent' places the blame for the violence elsewhere and stops the perpetrator being responsible for his violence. There are no excuses for violence against women.

Myth: There are as many male victims of domestic and family violence as there are women.
Fact: Violence against men is also a major issue in Australian society, although men are more likely to be hurt by a stranger, generally another man, than by their intimate partner. There are of course cases of violence against men by their intimate female partners. It’s essential to state that, regardless of the gender of the abuser or the victim, and regardless of whether it’s a heterosexual or same-sex relationship – domestic violence is a crime.

What the statistics say:

  • Although some men are the victims of domestic violence, this is much less common and all the indications are that 9 out of every 10 domestic violence victims is a female (University of Western Australia CRC 2004)
  • 87% of sufferers are women (Healy 2005) Domestic Violence Volume 228, Issues in Society
  • Female victims are more likely to be abused by a current or former intimate partner and male victims are more likely to be abused by other family persons and other persons.
  • Almost half of all victims under 15 are abused by a parent or guardian (Weatherburn 2005).

Myth: Women don't tell the truth about domestic violence.
Fact: Women experiencing domestic violence are more likely to deal with the issues themselves or talk to family and friends rather than seek outside support, due to barriers such as fear, isolation, lack of support and shame. This is supported by findings in the report Against the Odds: How Women Survive Domestic Violence (Keys Young 1998) which found that:

  •     Less than 20% of women interviewed had contact with domestic violence crisis services while they were in the abusive relationship.
  •     About 25% of women had contact with the police while they were in the abusive relationship.

Women are also more likely to downplay their experience of domestic violence, as opposed to a community perception that they exaggerate it.

Myth: Domestic violence is caused by the abuse of alcohol.
Fact: Even though alcohol is involved in about 50% of cases, these same offenders also beat their spouses when sober. (QLD Domestic Violence Task Force 1988). Alcohol has been shown to be a risk factor that does not actually cause domestic violence, but can contribute to greater frequency and severity of abuse.

Myth: Women provoke men to be violent by nagging and other annoying behaviours.
Fact: Most abused women try to do everything they can to please their partner and avoid further violent episodes. Victims of domestic violence are vulnerable to further episodes of abuse regardless of their behaviour.

Myth: Domestic violence is not a widespread problem
Fact: The private nature of domestic violence has resulted in its remaining a hidden problem. However, it is one which has damaging effects on many victims each year. Over 1 in 5 women presenting to the Accident and Emergency Department of the Royal Brisbane Hospital, had at some stage of their lives been subjected to domestic violence (Roberts, 1993).

This Myths and Facts Information was kindly provided by Brisbane Domestic Violence Service


Where to Go for Help

If you are in immediate danger or if you have been physically or sexually assaulted, threatened or stalked you can call the police on 000.

If you need to stay somewhere safe contact the Domestic Violence Crisis Service, See emergency contacts  to find out about women’s refuges.

If you need legal protection from further violence you can apply for a protection order .

Who can I talk to?

Family and friends can be supportive but sometimes they don’t understand the seriousness of abuse. It is often helpful to seek counselling. If you have any concerns about being abused contact your local Domestic Violence Service link to state resources page or a community health service/women’s community health who may be able to provide support and counselling.

What is a Women’s Refuge/Shelter?

A Women’s Refuge/Shelter is like a big family home or cluster of units. A refuge offers support, information and safe accommodation for women, with or without children.

Who can go to a Women’s Refuge/Shelter?

Any single women or Woman and her children who are being abused by their partner and/or family members.

This abuse can be:

• Continual insults or threats, hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, breaking bones or shoving.

• Threats to children or pets.

• Threats of or actual destruction of property.

• Forced or unwanted sex.

• Denying you friends or outings.

• Not giving you enough money, forcing you to give up your money, or having to account for every cent you spend.

• Making you afraid at home.

What do Refuges/Shelters offer?

During your stay at a Women’s Refuge/Shelter, from a couple of days up to a few months, you should be assured of these services:

• A safe, secure place to stay

• Confidentiality

• Refuge staff are available to provide information, give support, act as advocated and offer referrals

• Help to get to the Refuge if you need it

• Arrangements for your belongings to be picked up

• Linen, bedding, cooking and washing facilities

• Information and help in getting legal advice, housing, access to an income, moving and storing furniture, access to Commonwealth and State entitlements (e.g. Centrelink), and community resources.

Refuges/Shelter workers attend to the current crisis facing the Woman and her children. They also work in a preventative way to reduce, or eliminate, the risk of future crises.

 From Women’s Council for Domestic and Family Violence Services, WA 

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