Domestic Violence

Both the victims and the perpetrators of domestic and family violence and abuse often do not immediately realise or accept what they are doing, or experiencing – you can’t change what you don’t recognise.

The violence and/or abuse may be once, occasional, repeated or frequent. It always starts with one event. It develops into a patterns. Victims may not see the pattern until they leave.

What is Family & Domestic Violence?

The terms Family Violence and Domestic Violence are used interchangeably to refer to a complex intermix of harmful, violent, aggressive, and abusive behaviours within a relationship. Abusive relationships are where one person deliberately uses threats, violence, power or intimidation to manipulate and control the other person/s.

Domestic violence can occur in a range of relationships including:

  • People in an intimate relationship
  • Ex partners
  • Young people dating
  • Family members (including violence to children, and children’s violence towards parents or siblings or other family members)

VOCAL are well aware of the gendered nature of violence against women and children, and the history and currency of patriarchy. Despite this it is important to understand that domestic violence affects men, women, and children across the globe; all religions and socioeconomic levels. It is not just a problem of the poor, uneducated, or those who abuse alcohol or other drugs. Research shows that at least one in every four Australian women has been the victim of violence at the hands of a partner. It is estimated that over 60% never report the violence to the authorities.

The term domestic violence describes a range of behaviours and not just physical violence. Physical violence is widely recognised as domestic violence; however other forms of domestic violence are often not recognised. For example, there may not be physical abuse but a range of other abusive behaviours designed to control and intimidate.

Domestic violence includes:

  • Physical Abuse: punching; pushing; hitting; hair pulling; kidnapping; inflicting burns; damaging property etc.
  • Sexual Violence: rape; demands for sex; forced sexual contact; forced to watch pornography; deliberate inflicting of pain during sex; contact with sexually transmitted disease through sexual acts; infidelity.
  • Emotional Abuse: humiliation; mind games; manipulation; harassment; intimidation; stalking; possessiveness; blaming the victim for the abuse; threats to destroy possessions and/or violence against self or other family members.
  • Verbal Abuse: name calling; insults; yelling; swearing; malicious gossip; threats to disclose secrets; bullying.
  • Financial Abuse: preventing or limiting access and use of bank accounts; questioning money spent; insufficient money to buy food and necessities; questioning bank statements; threatening to cut-off access to the home or finances if the abuse is reported; purchasing luxury items while forcing others to be denied basic essentials or their ‘fair share’; gambling excessively.
  • Social Abuse: isolation; limiting contact with others, controlling and restricting access to family and friends; enforced confinement in the home; controlling the use of car and/or telephone; not allowing/enforcing religious or cultural practices; continual questioning about whereabouts and checking of phone messages and bills.

Domestic violence varies between cases. Abusive behaviours may be exercised occasionally, variably, or consistently. For example, violence might occur every Friday night after too much alcohol, or it might happen occasionally, or it might happen without alcohol.  Some victims report only occasional (every couple of years) violence or flare ups. It is still Domestic Violence.

Domestic violence is not a about a loss of control, a thoughtless act performed in a rage, or a crime of passion. Domestic violence is a crime of power and control, not passion out of control.

More Information

Please download the fact sheets below for more information

The Power and Control Wheel

What is it?


Domestic Violence and Pregnancy

What can happen?


Domestic Violence and Children

The effects on children and parenting


Why women stay?

Why abusive relationships?


Rejecting Violence

How to reject violence


Men and Domestic Violence

Male victims of abuse