Domestic Violence

People are often surprised when they learn the broad legal definition of domestic violence, which includes not only physical violence and harm but also emotional and psychological abuse, financial abuse, social abuse, sexual abuse, following, harassing, monitoring, systems abuse, property damage, cultural and spiritual abuse, and exposing children to family violence.

We, unfortunately, often see a pattern of coercive, controlling violence throughout the relationship, with a range of abusive behaviours aimed at dominating a spouse and their children. This type of abuse can go hand in hand with alcohol and drug use, as well as dysfunctional personality traits.

We also see people who have experienced situational couple violence, particularly in the lead-up to separation. In contrast to coercive, controlling violence, situational couple violence is the use of physical aggression without the context of control. Situational couple violence tends to happen when people are poor communicators and are unable to have a disagreement without resorting to aggression.

Emotional and psychological abuse

  • Verbally attacking you
  • Put downs about your physical appearance, intelligence or parenting
  • Calling you names
  • Humiliating you
  • Making you feel worthless
  • Threatening to have an affair or leave you if you don’t do something
  • Threatening to take the children if you don’t do something
  • Threatening to commit suicide if you leave
  • Accusing you of having an affair
  • Ignoring you
  • Withdrawing affection from you
  • Making you sleep in another area of the home
  • Denying you access to the bathroom
  • Trying to convince you that you are crazy

Physical violence and harm

  • Grabbing you
  • Pushing you
  • Twisting your arm
  • Pulling your hair
  • Choking you
  • Slapping you
  • Kicking you
  • Biting you
  • Punching you
  • Throwing an object at you
  • Burning you
  • Threatening you with a gun or knife or other weapon
  • Driving dangerously when you are a passenger in the car
  • Locking you outside the home during the night

Exposing children to domestic and family violence

  • Assaulting you when you are pregnant
  • Yelling at you, swearing at you or calling you names in front of the children
  • Encouraging the children to call you names or belittle you
  • Insisting that the children do not show you affection
  • Using the children as a weapon against you
  • The children witnessing you being threatened or being physically hurt
  • The children witnessing the home being damaged
  • The children helping you “pick up the pieces” after an incident
  • The children witnessing harm to family pets, or becoming aware that a pet has been harmed
  • Driving dangerously when the children are in the car

Sexual abuse

  • Unwanted sexual touching
  • Forced sexual penetration
  • Attempted forced sexual penetration
  • Insisting that you have unprotected sex
  • Sabotaging your birth control measures
  • Coercing you to have sex
  • Making you feel guilty if you don’t want to have sex
  • Calling you names if you don’t provide sex
  • Threatening to leave you or to have an affair if you don’t provide sex
  • Taking sexual images of you (with or without consent) and distributing them or threatening to distribute them

Financial abuse

  • Excluding you from information or decisions about finances
  • Controlling your access to money
  • Hiding bank statements from you
  • Hiding assets or income to avoid paying child support
  • Coercing you to take on debt
  • Taking out a credit card or loan in your name
  • Harassing you at work so that you lose your job
  • Using legal proceedings to drain your money

Social abuse

  • Isolating you from friends or family
  • Preventing you from leaving a room or the home
  • Hiding your car keys or mobile phone so you can’t leave
  • Forbidding you from working outside the home
  • Calling your work repeatedly
  • Stealing or damaging your mail, deleting your email or text messages
  • Impersonating you
  • Criticising the way you take care of the home or the children
  • Becoming angry if household chores are not done or not done “properly”
  • Treating you like a personal servant
  • Jealous or suspicious of your friends and other men
  • Turning your family against you

Systems abuse

  • Making multiple or false complaints to agencies like Centrelink, the Child Support Agency or the Australian Taxation Office
  • Using the legal system(s) maliciously or to use up your money

Following, harassing and monitoring

  • Sending you threatening or abusive text messages or emails
  • Using Facebook to publicly accuse and blame you
  • Monitoring your whereabouts and movements
  • Remotely accessing your computer or mobile phone
  • Installing spyware on your computer or mobile phone
  • Visiting offensive websites/chat rooms in your name and expressing an interest in violent or abusive pornography or being raped or sexually assaulted
  • Accessing a tracking device in your car

Damaging property

  • Stealing, damaging or destroying your property or shared property e.g. your mobile phone, clothes, car, home, personal belongings

Animal abuse

  • Hurting family pets
  • Threatening to hurt family pets

Cultural and spiritual abuse

  • Belittling your cultural or spiritual beliefs or practices
  • Preventing you from you following your cultural or spiritual beliefs or practices
  • Denying you access to your cultural or spiritual community
  • Misusing cultural or spiritual beliefs or practices to normalise abuse

Forced marriage

  • Coercing, threatening or deceiving you into marriage


If you are fearful for your immediate safety, call the police call on Triple Zero (000). For non-urgent police assistance, call Policelink on 131 444.


Call DV Connect on 1800 811 811 or go to

DV Connect provides:

  • free telephone crisis counselling and support 24 /7
  • free interpreter services
  • help in developing a safety plan for you and your children
  • emergency transport and accommodation if necessary
  • advice about and referral to refuge services

Protection Order application

We can help you to:

  • Apply for an urgent Temporary Protection Order
  • Apply for a Protection Order
  • Apply to vary a Protection Order
  • Defend an application for a Protection Order
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