WHAT IS FAMILY VIOLENCE?
Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and in their relationship.
Families and couples don’t always get along, sometimes it’s normal for people to argue.
But if someone in your family or your partner is consistently hurting, humiliating, controlling, threatening or frightening you or other people then this could be family violence.
Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time.
Physical: hitting, slapping, shoving, restraining, biting, scratching, pinching, kicking, punching, pushing, burning, stabbing, shooting
Psychological and emotional: threats, intimidation, name calling, put downs, isolation, economic abuse (forcing a person to give up his/her wages or not letting him/her have access to money), abusing or using children or pets to create fear, stalking, harassing, guilt trips, blaming
Sexual: unwanted sexual contact – e.g. touching, rape, verbal harassment, making you do sexual things without consent that may hurt, make you feel ashamed, or bad, making you feel guilty if you say no to sex, not using contraception when you ask them to
You may be witnessing or experiencing family violence in your family home or in your own relationship.
Family violence can be very hard to understand because there is no single one reason why it occurs – it can be a combination of lots of things.
Family violence is different to family fights or arguments. In every family, it is natural to have disagreements with one another.
However, when this happens all the time and one person abuses another or others by hitting, punching, throwing things around or threatening to harm someone, it is family violence. This can be from your parents, other family members to each other, or towards you.
Unfortunately, family violence is common – in fact, one in four teenagers has seen physical violence by one parent towards another. Excuses are often used as a reason why one person abuses the other like ‘it’s your fault, you shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘you know I’m under a lot of pressure from work and you just keep putting me under more pressure until I snap’.
There is no excuse for being violent – it is simply not okay.
When living with family violence you can feel:
Dating violence is not an argument once in a while. It is a continual pattern of abusive and/or violent behaviour.
You have the right:
If you feel that you or someone you care about is in danger call the Police on 000.
If you are worried about yourself or a friend you can:
There are a few things you can do to make sure you are safe.
For young people living with family violence it can be really ‘full-on’.
Your support can make a difference.
No. Abuse is a choice. Although alcohol and drugs are often associated with relationship abuse (because so many people drink in general), they do not cause the violence. A lot of people drink and use drugs and most people do not abuse. Not all abusers drink and not all people who drink are abusive. Violence often continues even after an abuser stops drinking.
Most abusers do not stop violent behaviour without an intervention (like counselling or a behaviour change program). Regardless of any promises made by the perpetrator, the most important thing you can do is to take steps to make sure you do all you can to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Family violence doesn’t always include physical abuse. It can include emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse (such as withholding money), threats or coercion, isolating you from family and friends, controlling or dominating you, causing you to fear for your safety or the wellbeing of another person, harm to things that you love – pets, personal belongings, verbal abuse and other behaviours.
Call safe steps Family Violence Response Centre on 1800 015 188 and our workers can refer to the relevant service for you.
Family violence can happen in any relationship, regardless of gender, sexual orientation or identity.
No. Family violence is endemic in the community and affects people of all walks of life regardless of age, culture, sexual identity, ability, ethnicity, religion or socio-economic status.
Studies have found that between 10 -30 per cent of male child witnesses choose to become perpetrators as adults. The remaining 70 -90 per cent do not become perpetrators. Witnessing family violence does not mean that a child will become abusive as an adult; it is still a choice and many child witnesses are actively against abuse.
A Family Violence Intervention Order (also known as an Apprehended Violence Order) is an order of the Court that can protect you from further violence or stalking if you are over 18.
You, or the police, can apply for an Order on your behalf through the Magistrate’s Court.
The process is different in each state and territory of Australia.
If you are in Victoria and would like more information, visit –
Family violence can happen to anyone but it is mainly committed by men against women, children and other vulnerable people.
Megan met her boyfriend when she was 15 while studying at secondary school. At first she thought the relationship was a loving and healthy one, but looking back on it now she realises she missed early warning signs that all was not well.
"He was always watching me and he was really jealous of anyone I talked to or hung out with. He would say to me: 'I know what you did and I know who you were with today.'
"It got to the point where I said to him you can't do this anymore, you can't tell me not to socialise with my friends. But he convinced me that he was only jealous because he loved me so much that he wanted me all to himself. So I stayed with him. Sure enough, it all got worse.
"He used to use his family against me. He isolated me. He warned me not to go anywhere without him. He knew my phone password and would grab it to check who I'd been texting or messaging on Facebook."
Soon the intimidation and abuse escalated into physical violence. "He pushed me, threw things at me…twisted my arm. One time, he even tried to strangle me.”
At first, Megan didn’t tell anyone about her situation. But then, when it all got too much, she confided in a teacher at school who helped her contact safe steps who gave her the advice and help she needed to finally break free of her boyfriend and devise a comprehensive safety plan to stay safe.
“Telling a teacher and getting in contact with safe steps was the best thing I could have ever done”.
Alish called safe steps for help after she was assaulted by her father. Alish had been promised in marriage to a much older man in another country by her father, who had also been controlling and abusive to her for as long as she could remember. Her mother and brother were also abusive toward her. The situation had escalated after Alish fought against her family’s plan to arrange her marriage overseas. Because her family were recent migrants, Alish was not eligible for support from Centrelink, and needed assistance with her residency and visa arrangements living away from her family. Her safe steps case manager organised this along with arranging emergency accommodation for her, helping her to continue her education, and referring her to a long term support service. Alish’s parents are now being investigated by the police, and she is living independently.
Ana was 17 years old when she came to safe steps for help. She grew up in an abusive household, where her father was extremely physically and sexually abusive to her. She had not seen her mother since she was a small child. As a teenager, Ana had begun to abuse drugs and alcohol as a way of coping, and was referred by her drug and alcohol counsellor at a time when she was at extreme risk and needed immediate help. safe steps provided Ana with case management support and assistance, including safe and secure emergency accommodation with access to her counsellor. When she left safe steps, Ana moved to her own long-term self-contained apartment with ongoing case management, outreach and drug and alcohol support.
safe steps Family Violence Response Centre is the statewide service for women and children experiencing family violence. We provide support 24/7 via our Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188.