Homelove, sex & relationshipsfamilywhat is family violence?

What is family violence?

Family violence is when one person uses violence to control, or scare, others in the family. It can include domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse. It is a pattern of abusive behaviour; usually it will happen more than once. It is a way for one person to control and have power over others in the family, by using fear. Women are more likely to be victims of family violence than men. Family violence often occurs within romantic relationships (like between parents) but can occur in other family relationships too (like between a parent and child).

There are many different forms of violent behaviour including:

Physical violence or threats of physical violence like punching, kicking, pushing and slapping.


Using put downs or emotional blackmail to hurt someone or make them feel stupid like constantly calling them dumb or threatening to commit suicide if they leave.


Stopping someone from seeing their friends or family, having a job or doing the activities they want to.


Controlling someone’s money, or shared money, so they do not have control over their own finances.


Forcing someone to participate in sexual acts without their consent.

What are the effects of Family Violence?

Family violence can affect everyone differently. If you are experiencing family violence you may feel confused, alone, sad or depressed. You might have low self esteem and be afraid to tell anyone.

Family violence can also have long term effects, whether you are the victim of the violence or seeing violence at home. You may find it hard to concentrate at school, find it hard to connect with your friends or turn to alcohol or drugs to help you cope.

What should I do?
  • If you are ever in immediate danger you should call the police on 000.
  • If you are experiencing family violence at home, the best thing you can do is talk to someone about it. Try talking to an adult you trust, like a teacher or the school counsellor. You can call  1800 RESPECT or Kids Helpline for confidential counselling and advice.
  • You and some of your family might need to leave your home if things get really bad. If you, or a family member, need somewhere safe to say you can try a women’s refuge — call 1800 RESPECT to find the nearest refuge to you.
  • There are also legal options that can prevent a violent person from coming near you or hurting you, like a protection order. Protection orders are different in every state — check out 1800 RESPECT to find out how they work, and how to apply for one in your state. You can also go to Youth Law Australia to find out more info and get free and confidential legal advice.
  • If your friend is experiencing family violence, try to support them as much as you can. Be there for them and listen to them. Let them know there are places they can go for support like Kids Helpline or 1800RESPECT.

Need someone to talk to? Free, confidential support is available.

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