What is domestic violence?

Commonly, people in intimate relationships disagree about things from time to time.  Disagreements are a normal part of a healthy relationship. Both parties in an intimate relationship should be able to voice their different points of view or concerns and feel comfortable discussing them with their partner.  In a healthy relationship both parties treat each other with respect, as equals and compromise so they can find a solution they are both happy with. In an unhealthy relationship where domestic and family violence is occuring the situation is very different. One person in the relationship uses abuse and/or violence to control the other person through fear. The person feeling controlled feels threatened and too frightened to argue back, or too scared to disagree or express their opinion.

Domestic and family violence takes place in the context of an intimate partner relationship; against a previous intimate partner, within a family relationship, or in an informal care relationship. It is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships. Domestic violence can occur with same-sex couples and other intimate relationships that exist in the LGBTIQ+ community.

Domestic violence is often thought of as being mainly about physical abuse of a woman by her male partner. However, domestic violence can be any behaviour used to exert POWER and CONTROL over a person through fear. Types of domestic and family violence behaviours include: Financial abuse, stalking, verbal abuse, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual abuse, reproductive abuse, spiritual/cultural abuse, damage to personal property, digital/technology abuse and social abuse.


The Duluth Model of domestic and family violence?

DVConnect defines domestic and family violence and abuse using the Duluth Model.


Types of domestic and family abuse

Domestic and family violence can include the below behaviours:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse can include direct assaults on the body using objects or weapons; assault on children, being denied access to your home, as well as deprivation of sleep or food. Physical abuse is a crime.  More

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse can include constant put-downs, insults, ridicule, name calling, yelling, humiliation in public or in private, as well as insults around sexuality, body image, intelligence or parenting skills.

Psychological / Emotional Abuse

Psychological/emotional abuse can includes behaviour and/or comments and taunts to undermine your sense of self and your personal security. This may impose a sense of vulnerability around your personal safety or mental health and wellbeing. More

Social Abuse

Social abuse is systematically controlling who you see, who you speak to, or who you receive phone calls, messages or email from. Controlling where you go so that you become socially or geographically isolated from other people. More

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse (also known as economic abuse) includes refusing you access to money, especially where the money is legally due to you, ie your wages or an inheritance. Accumulating debt in your name, or preventing you from seeking or keeping employment. More

Damage to Personal Property

Damage to personal property includes using physical strength or violence to intimidate you by causing or threatening to cause damage to your property or valuables.

Digital/Technology Abuse

Digital abuse can involve using technology to bully, harass or intimidate a partner, including threats to share / sharing private photos online without your consent. Controlling who you can and can’t be friends with on social media and sending insulting messages via digital platforms.

Spiritual / Cultural Abuse

Spiritual or cultural abuse can include not allowing you to practice your chosen religion or cultural beliefs. Misusing religious or spiritual traditions to justify physical or other abuse towards you.


Stalking is intended to intimidate and/or harass you. It can include following you to work, your place of study, your home, or following you when you are out in public. It can include the stalker/abuser watching you, phoning, writing letters, or messaging you using texts, leaving phone messages, using social media, signing into your social media accounts. Stalking is a crime. More

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any forced or unwanted sexual contact or activity. Humiliation can often play a part in sexual abuse as well. Our Sexual Assault Helpline can help you. Sexual abuse, sexual assault and sexual violence is a crime. More

Reproductive Control

Closely aligned with sexual abuse, reproductive control is uniquely related to women’s, (specifically young women’s) ability to control their own reproductive health. For example, use or non-use of contraception/contraceptive method, forcing you to make decisions around pregnancy and/or termination and having little to say in the number of children you have, or the timing of when you have children.


More information

Domestic violence statistics you need to know.

Learn about the Cycle of Violence.



Call us, we can help you.

Call 1800 811 811

I wish to sincerely thank you and the entire DVConnect team for their past and present assistance during these past few years of family turmoil. Without such a wonderful service it would be that much harder for women and children.

Jenny, Northgate Brisbane

We need your support.

With your donation we can:

  • Provide more emergency transport and accommodation to those escaping violence.
  • Provide more temporary accommodation for pets whose families have escaped domestic violence, until they set up a permanent home.
  • Provide more specialist counselling to those who have experienced domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
  • Educate the community about how we can help them, or someone they love, escape a domestically abusive relationship.