What is Domestic or Family Violence?

Domestic violence and family violence are the same thing.

The Family Violence Act 2018 defines family violence as violence against a person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a family relationship.

A family relationship may be

  • A partner or spouse or ex-partner or ex-spouse
  • Any family member, e.g. grandparent/grandchild, nephew/aunt, siblings, etc.
  • Someone who ordinarily shares a household, e.g. flatmates
  • Any close, personal relationship

The Family Violence Act definition of a family relationship does not include landlord-tenant, employer-employee, or people who live in the same ‘dwellinghouse’ but do not share a household.

Violence against a person includes

a pattern of behaviour made up of a number of acts that are physical abuse, sexual abuse or psychological abuse, and that may

  • Intend to coerce or control the other person, or with the effect of coercing or controlling the other person
  • Cause the person cumulative harm, i.e. harm that adds up over time so that the person experiencing an abusive act is responding to the entire history of abuse from that person, not just that abusive act
  • Be dowry-related violence relating to gifts, money/property given or received for a (proposed) marriage

A single act may amount to abuse. A number of acts that form a pattern of behaviour may amount to abuse, even through those acts viewed in isolation may appear minor or trivial.

Psychological abuse includes

  • Threats to harm or kill
  • Intimidation, harassment, stalking, monitoring
  • Damage to property
  • Ill-treatment of pets
  • Economic abuse
  • Hindering or removing access to any aid, device, medication or other support that is likely to affect the person’s quality of life

A person psychologically abuses a child if

that person causes or allows the child to see or hear the physical, sexual or psychological abuse of a person with whom the child has a family relationship.

Read the Family Violence Act 2018 definition of family violence 

Read more about coercive control and entrapment