What is domestic violence?


What actions are considered domestic and family violence or abuse?

Domestic and family violence is more than physical abuse. People who choose to use violence in relationships use many different tactics to gain power and control over another person, through fear. These can include, but are not limited to: Financial/Economic abuse, Verbal abuse, Psychological / Emotional abuse, as well as Digital / Technological abuse, Spiritual/Cultural abuse, Social Isolation abuse, StalkingSexual abuse, Damage to Personal Property.

What type of relationships does domestic violence happen within? 

Any intimate partner relationships, examples include a woman being abused by a male, or a male being abused by a woman. This could be a current or previous partner, or an uncle to a cousin, or a close family friend to a family member. Domestic and family violence can happen in any relationship. It is not exclusive to heterosexual relationships, it also occur within same-sex couples and other intimate relationships within the LGBTIQ+ community.

People in intimate relationships disagree about things from time to time.  These disagreements are a normal part of a healthy relationship. In 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 occurring the situation is very different. In an unhealthy relationship, one person in the relationship uses abuse and/or violence to control the other person through fear. As a result, the person feeling controlled may feel threatened and too frightened to argue back, or too scared to disagree or express their opinion.


Types of domestic and family abuse

The below outline domestic and family violence behaviours:

Financial / Economic Abuse

Financial abuse (also known as economic abuse) includes refusing you access to money, especially where the money is legally due to you. For example your wages or an inheritance. It also includes accumulating debt in your name, or preventing you from seeking or keeping employment. 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 Isolation Abuse

Social isolation 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

Digital / Technology Abuse

Digital abuse can involve using technology to bully, harass or intimidate a partner. This can include threats to share, or actually sharing private photos online without your consent. It also includes controlling who you can and cannot be friends with on social media and sending insulting messages via digital platforms. More

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 you, leaving phone messages for you, writing you letters, or text messaging you.  It also includes sending you text messages, or messages via social media, and/or 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 (also referred to as sexual assault and/or sexual violence) is a crime. More

Reproductive Control

Reproductive control is closely aligned with sexual abuse. It is uniquely related to women’s, (specifically young women’s) ability to control their own reproductive health. For example, using or not using contraception. Or forcing you to make decisions around pregnancy and/or termination. As well as having little to say in the number of children you have, or the timing of when you have children.

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.

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


Understanding power and control

This video explains the domestic violence tactics used to gain power and control. (Duration 2.19 minutes). The 8 different tactics often used within a violence where the perpetrator chooses to use violence. These are using Intimidation, using Emotional Abuse, using Isolation, using Minimising, Denying, Blaming, using Children, using Male Privilege, using Economic Abuse, using Coercion and Threats.


    Understanding the use of physical and sexual abuse

    This video explains how physical and sexual abuse is used to gain power and control within domestic violence. (Duration 2.53 minutes)


    Understanding the use of intimidation to gain power and control

    This video explains the domestic violence power tactic of intimidation. (Duration 3.46 minutes)


    Understanding how emotional abuse is used to gain power and control

    This video explains how emotional abuse is used to slowly gain power and control. (Duration 4.47 minutes)


    Understanding isolation to gain power and control

    This video explains how men use male privilege to gain power and control in a relationship where the male chooses to use violence within the relationship. (Duration 3.07 minutes)


    Understanding how minimising, denying and blaming are used to gain power and control

    This video explains the domestic violence tactics of minimising, denying and blaming to gain power and control. (Duration 4.25 minutes)


    Understanding how children are used to gain power and control

    This video explains how someone choosing to use domestic and family violence use children to gain power and control. (Duration 3.31 minutes)


    Understanding the use of male privilege to gain power and control

    This video explains how men use male privilege to gain power and control in a relationship where the male chooses to use violence within the relationship. (Duration 3.14 minutes)


    Understanding coercion and threats to gain power and control

    This video explains the domestic violence power tactic of coercion and threats. (Duration 1.40 minutes)


    More information

    • What you can do to help end domestic violence? Read
    • What is the Cycle of Violence? Read
    • What are the Signs of an Abusive Relationship? Read
    • What do controlling relationships look like? Read
    • What is Safety Planning? Read
    • What is a Women’s Shelter / Refuge?  Read


    Call us, we can help you.

    Call 1800 811 811

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    • Educates Queenslanders on how to help family, friends and colleagues who have experienced, or are experiencing domestic and family violence.