What is family violence?
Family violence is a set or pattern of behaviours in which someone seeks power and control over you, causing you to feel threatened, worthless or fearful. Family violence can take many forms:
- It can be physical, psychological and emotional, economic, social, sexual or spiritual
- It can include behaviour that is violent, threatening, controlling, intimidating and isolating
- It can affect people from all ages, social, cultural and religious backgrounds, and people with a disability
- It can occur between family members, parents and children, against elders, against pets, in marriages, de-facto relationships, same sex relationships, couples who are separated or divorced, and even within shared households
- In most cases, it is committed by men against a female partner or ex-partner.
Living with family violence is a confronting and often confusing experience. These questions may help you to understand whether you are experiencing family violence.
Is this person:
- Making you feel scared or afraid?
- Yelling at you or saying bad things to you?
- Putting you down?
- Hitting, punching or pushing you?
- Stopping you from seeing your family or friends?
- Not giving you something you need like medication or food?
- Controlling your money against your will?
- Threatening to take or harm your children?
- Harming or threatening to harm your pets?
- Not letting you have your own belief system?
Family violence is a criminal offence. Unfortunately, one in four women in Australia have experienced violence by a partner they may or may not have been living with. (Source: ANROWS 2015)
When is someone at risk?
Family violence occurs in many forms, and is often subtle and gradual. It is important to remember that the violence is never your fault: it is a choice made by the perpetrator to exert power and control over you.
While family violence can occur to any person at any time, there are certain factors that increase the likelihood and severity of family violence. These include (but are not limited to):
- Pregnancy and new birth – Family violence often starts or gets worse during pregnancy and is associated with increased rates of miscarriage, low birth weight, premature birth, foetal injury and foetal death. Family violence during pregnancy is a significant indicator of future harm to the woman and her child.
- Leaving the relationship – Ending a relationship with an abusive partner can sometimes increase risk, particularly within the first few months. It is extremely important to have a safety plan (link to safety plan page) in place, even once you have left an abusive relationship.
- Threats to kill – Evidence suggests that a perpetrator’s threat to kill is often genuine, and can predict continued, often worsening abuse.
- Non-lethal strangulation – Research indicates choking/strangulation is a key risk factor for future, more severe family violence and an increased risk factor for intimate partner homicide.