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Domestic and
family violence

Domestic and family violence is a major human rights, public health and social issue in our community. It is prevalent but preventable. Domestic violence typically refers to abuse against an intimate partner/ex-partner, while family violence is a broader term that refers to abuse in a range of family and family-like relationships.

What is domestic and family violence?

It occurs in all communities
and in all cultures

It occurs to
people of all ages

It occurs to people of all
socio-economic groups

It occurs to people of all education levels and professions

What is violence against women?

Violence against women has many manifestations, including sexual violence, online or digital violence, forced and child marriage, femicide, and human trafficking. Violence against women is associated with increased risk of injuries, depression, anxiety disorders, unplanned pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and many other health problems.

Domestic violence perpetrated by an intimate partner is one of the most common forms of violence against women. Women are much more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner, and with more severe impacts that include being hospitalisation and death.

We acknowledge that both men and women experience violence.  But there are gendered patterns associated with violence perpetration and victimisation. Gender inequality, including harmful gender norms, are key drivers of violence against women.

It is mostly men who are the perpetrators of violence and this violence is against women.

Statistics

People have the right to live free from violence and abuse.

There are domestic and family violence services across Western Australia that offer free crisis phone lines, support, advocacy, counselling, information and resources to those who are experiencing any form of domestic and family violence.

Frequently
asked questions

When we talk about domestic and family violence in our communities, several questions are frequently raised. This section includes some of the basic, most frequently asked questions about domestic and family violence.

Other specific information and resources on domestic and family violence can be found in the Knowledge Centre.

Domestic and family violence isn’t just physical abuse.  It involves a range of different behaviours and is usually an ongoing pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour (also known as coercive control). 

A wide variety of abusive behaviours that may include emotional, social, financial or technology facilitated abuse – often accompanied by threats of physical violence, may be used to cause fear.

Knowing the signs can help people recognise when violence may be occurring and allow them to get help

Some forms of abuse in domestic and family violence include:

  • Direct assault on the body (pushing, slapping, punching, biting, kicking or any other behaviour that is intended to cause injury or harm
  • Use of weapons to injure
  • Strangling or blocking airway
  • Attempting to murder the victim
  • Driving dangerously with the victim in the car
  • Destruction of property and possessions of the victim
  • Abuse of pets in front of family members
  • Assault of children
  • Locking her out of the home
  • Forced sleep deprivation

Physical abuse rarely occurs in isolation and perpetrators can also inflict other types of abuse on their partners.

  • Intimidation, threats and control
  • Manipulation
  • Humiliation or degrading the victim
  • Insults, name calling, belittling, constant criticism (usually around intelligence, sexuality, body image, parenting capacity)
  • Mocking the person
  • Blaming the victim for their problems
  • Threaten to hurt children, pets, friends, family or anyone close to the victim
  • Threaten to commit suicide
  • Threaten to give away, harm or kill the pets
  • Undermine self-esteem and self-worth
  • Make rules about what the victim can do, say and wear
  • Reminding the victim of past abuse (“you remember last time what happened to you when you didn’t listen to me”)
  • Turning others against the victim
  • Withdrawing interest and engagement, stop communicating with the victim
  • Make the victim think she makes things up or “is going crazy”
  • Intimidation, threats and control
  • Manipulation
  • Humiliation or degrading the victim
  • Insults, name calling, belittling, constant criticism (usually around intelligence, sexuality, body image, parenting capacity)
  • Mocking the person
  • Blaming the victim for their problems
  • Threaten to hurt children, pets, friends, family or anyone close to the victim
  • Threaten to commit suicide
  • Threaten to give away, harm or kill the pets
  • Undermine self-esteem and self-worth
  • Make rules about what the victim can do, say and wear
  • Reminding the victim of past abuse (“you remember last time what happened to you when you didn’t listen to me”)
  • Turning others against the victim
  • Withdrawing interest and engagement, stop communicating with the victim
  • Make the victim think she makes things up or “is going crazy”
  • Stop the person from seeing their friends, family, or a certain person
  • Stop the person from attending social events
  • Forbidding the person from leaving the home (or a room in it)
  • Rudeness to family and friends
  • Putting down family and friends
  • Moving to locations where the person doesn’t know anyone
  • Create a scene in public to stop the victim from wanted to attend social activities
  • Damage the person’s reputation by spreading malicious rumours
  • Ridiculing a person’s belief system or culture
  • Using religion or cultural traditions to justify abuse
  • Attempt to stop a person from practicing their religion
  • Denying access to ceremonies, land or family
  • Forcing people to do things against their beliefs
  • Complete control of all the money
  • Trying to stop someone from earning money
  • Trying to make someone hand over their money
  • Using the other person’s money without consent
  • Stopping a person from having access to bank accounts
  • Providing an inadequate allowance to a person
  • Creating debt, often in the victim’s name
  • Monitoring of phone calls and emails or texts
  • Posting exploitive photos or videos with the victim’s consent
  • Sending harassing texts and messages that threaten
  • Recruit friends and family to harass and intimate the victim by text, email or social media
  • Using GPS or other apps to track the victims’ whereabouts
  • Set up false accounts on social media sites to gain access to the victim’s information
  • Hacking into victim’s accounts, email, banking, social media
  • Vilifying the victim on social media by spreading false information
  • Showing up at the victim’s place of work to confront or threaten
  • Following the victim
  • Acts of vandalism that will incur expenses to the victim (breaking windows, damage car)
  • Recruiting friends and family to track the victim’s activities
  • Harass the victim’s friends, family, work colleagues and people in their social circles
  • Leaving unwanted gifts, flowers or items at the victim’s home, work or vehicle
  • Coercing, convincing or encouraging family members and friends to shame and abuse the victim
  • Using cultural or religious grounds to justify violence against girls and women
  • Maiming and/or killing the victim to “restore honour to the family”
  • Rejecting and shunning victim in an attempt to control her behaviour
  • Forcing the victim to stay inside the home against their will

It’s a common question that we hear all the time.
“Why doesn’t she just leave?”
It’s not that simple.

There are many barriers that stand in the way of a woman leaving an abusive partner. Leaving is the most dangerous time for a victim-survivor – so support and safety planning is critical. It’s important that women are supported and empowered to make the best decision for them while holding the abusers accountable for their behaviour.

It’s important that we don’t blame victims and/or survivors for staying and start supporting them to enable them to leave.

Here are some common barriers that may prevent a woman from leaving an abusive relationship:

Perpetrators of domestic and family violence do share some common characteristics.  It’s important to remember that domestic and family violence is first and foremost a pattern of power and control.  You may see behaviours that are not indicative of abuse on their own, but when you look at what is occurring, it forms a pattern of ongoing behaviour and tactics of abuse.

Here are some “red flags” that could indicate your partner is abusive:
Please note this is not an exhaustive list

  • They insist on moving quickly into the relationship.
  • They can be very charming and may seem “too good to be true.”
  • They insist that you stop participating in your preferred leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
  • They are extremely jealous or controlling.
  • They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
  • They criticise your appearance and make frequent put-downs.
  • Their words and actions don’t match.
  • You feel nervous around your partner all the time
  • You are scared of disagreeing with your partner
  • You have to be careful to control your behaviour to avoid your partner getting angry
  • Your partner constantly criticises you and/or humiliates you in front of other people
  • Your partner constantly checks up on you or questions you on what you are up doing
  • Your partner controls where you go or checks the mileage on your car
  • Your partner repeatedly and wrongfully accuses you of seeing or flirting with other people
  • Your partner tells you that if you changed and did what they say, they wouldn’t treat you like this
  • Your partner’s jealousy stops you from seeing your friends, family or work colleagues
  • Your partner makes you feel like you are wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate
  • Your partner has scared you with violence or threatening behaviour
  • Your partner throws or breaks objects to intimidate you
  • Your partner makes you feel scared by driving too fast and refusing to slow down when you ask
  • Your partner says, “I will kill myself if you break up with me” or “I will hurt/kill you if you break up with me”
  • Your partner makes excuses for the abusive behaviour.  For example: saying, “It’s because of alcohol or drugs,” or “I can’t control my temper,” or “I was just joking”
  • Your partner talks about bullying or harming your children or your friends
  • Your partner abused or killed your animals
  • You feel pressured by your partner when it comes to sex

We need to remember that violent and abusive behaviour is always a choice that a perpetrator makes to harm.  Please contact a Specialist Domestic and Family Violence service for further help and support.

Domestic and family violence is deeply rooted in issues of power, control and inequality. It is caused by a misuse of power by one person (usually male thus the gendered nature of domestic and family violence) over another.

Behaviour is always a choice and those who perpetrate domestic and family violence do so to get what they want and to gain control.

Research by Our Watch (Change the Story) has made it clear that gender inequality is the core of domestic and family violence and name the drivers of violence against women. 

For further information on the drivers and enablers of violence against women go to the Preventing Violence Together (PVT) website. 

PVT website

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Who experiences domestic and family violence?

It is recognised and documented in research and statistics that the majority of domestic and family violence is perpetrated by men against women. The populations most impacted by domestic and family violence are younger women, children, older people, people with disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (including people with temporary residency status), LGBTIQ+ people, people in rural and remote communities, people with mental health issues and/or substance misuse problems, people from socio-economically disadvantaged areas and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

The term domestic and family violence most commonly refers to violence and abuse against an intimate partner/ex-partner. However, it can occur in a range of relationships including parent/carer-child relationships, and relationships between siblings and other relatives, such as grandparents or extended family members. It also includes ‘family-like’ relationships such as paid or unpaid carers for people with disability, families of choice for LGBTIQ+ people, and cultural kinship networks in multicultural and Aboriginal communities.

Domestic and family violence can happen to anyone.

Victim-survivors of domestic and family violence can include people of all genders and sexualities. It is acknowledged that men can experience violence from their intimate partners of any gender.  

It can be difficult for men and gender and sexually diverse people to recognise they are experiencing domestic and family violence and there can be additional barriers to accessing support.  

Everyone has a basic human right to live a life free from violence and abuse.

The services and supports offered in Western Australia provide support for men who are victim-survivors.   

For many men, calling one of the 24/7 helplines is the first step they can make to talk to someone about the problems they face, whether it is for information or emotional support. 

The services and supports offered in Western Australia provide support for LGBTIQ+ victim-survivors. Additionally, the 24/7 help lines are available for support and counselling. 

Further information on domestic and family violence for LGBTIQ+ victim-survivors can be found on the Say It Out Loud website or by contacting Living Proud LGBTI Community Services of WA on 08 9486 9855. 

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