Domestic and family violence

woman staring out a window

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a violation of human rights. It involves violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour carried out by an adult against a partner or former partner to control and dominate that person.

Domestic violence causes fear, physical and/or psychological harm. It is most often violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour by a man against a woman. Living with domestic violence has a profound effect upon children and young people and may constitute a form of child abuse. (The NSW Domestic and Family Violence Action Plan, June 2010)

The above definition includes violence in same sex relationships.

Many forms of domestic violence are offences under the NSW Crimes Act 1900 or the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.

Domestic violence can include:

  • physical assault (including punching, hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, choking, or the use of weapons)
  • sexual assault (being forced to have sex or participate in sexual activities, either by watching or participating)
  • emotional abuse (making you feel worthless, criticising your personality, your looks, the way you dress, constantly putting you down, threatening to hurt you, your children or your pets)
  • verbal abuse (including yelling, shouting, name-calling and swearing at you)
  • social abuse (being stopped from seeing friends and family, isolating you socially or geographically)
  • damaging property such as furniture, the house or pets in order to threaten or intimidate you
  • financial abuse (taking control of the money, not giving you enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your money, not letting you have a say in how it is spent).

Physical and sexual assault is a crime whether it happens in the home or on the street.

Family violence

Many Aboriginal communities prefer to use the term family violence rather than domestic violence.

The term family violence better reflects the Aboriginal communities’ understanding of violence, as family violence is broader than the usual mainstream definition of domestic violence.

Family violence involves any use of force, be it physical or non-physical, which is aimed at controlling another family or community member and which undermines that person’s wellbeing. It can be directed towards an individual, family, community or particular group. (FaHCSIA 2009).

Exclusion orders

An exclusion order allows you to remain at home as part of an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO), and excludes, or removes, the violent person.

An exclusion order is one of the conditions which may be applied for in an ADVO.

It can prohibit the violent person from living in the home of the protected person.

Information about Staying Home Leaving Violence is now available in 21 community languages, including English, Arabic, Assyrian, Chinese, Croatian, Dari, Greek, Hindi, Italian, Kiswahili, Korean, Macedonian, Persian, Russian, Samoan, Serbian, Somali ,Thai, Tongan, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Also see more information about the Staying Home Leaving Violence program that helps women and children stay in the family home.

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To report suspected child abuse or neglect, call the Child Protection Helpline on 132 111 (24 hours/7 days)