1. What is family violence?

Family or domestic violence is an abuse of power within a close relationship, or after separation. It involves one person dominating and controlling another, causing intimidation and fear.

It is not necessarily physical and can include:

  • sexual abuse,
  • emotional or psychological abuse,
  • verbal abuse,
  • spiritual abuse,
  • stalking and intimidation,
  • social and geographic isolation,
  • financial abuse,
  • cruelty to pets, or
  • damage to property.

Often the terms ‘family violence’ and ‘domestic violence’ are used interchangeably. ‘Family violence’ is sometimes thought of as the broader term, covering intimate, family and other relationships of mutual obligation and support.

Family violence is often experienced as a pattern of abuse that escalates over time.

Most domestic violence is perpetrated by men, against women and children. However women can also be perpetrators of violence, and domestic violence also happens in same-sex relationships.

Women are at greater risk of violence from intimate partners during pregnancy, or after separation. A safety survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2005 found that 17% of women who had experienced violence from a partner during a relationship, experienced it for the first time during pregnancy.

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2. Indicators [icon name=icon-double-angle-right]


[5] Access Economics & Commonwealth of Australia, The Cost of Domestic Violence to the Australian Economy: Part II, (Office for the Status of Women, 2004) 9.