Social isolation can be domestic violence

Domestic and family violence is focused around one person using tactics of power and control over another person. Domestic violence is not always physical, it can also include social isolation.
No one persons experience is the same. Some tactics may start slowly, others may not. 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.


Types of domestic and family abuse, also known as domestic and family violence include:

  • Verbal abuse includes constant put downs, ridicule, name calling, humiliation, sexuality insults, body image insults, intelligence insults and parenting skills insults.
  • Psychological/emotional abuse includes behaviour and/or comments and taunts to undermine your sense of self or personal security. This may cause you to feel vulnerable, or concerned for your personal safety, mental health and wellbeing.
  • Financial abuse includes accummulating debt in your name. Refusing you access to money, especially when it is legally yours. Preventing you from seeking or keeping employment.
  • Digital/technological abuse: using technology to bully, harass or intimidate a partner, including threates to share or sharing private photos/videos online without your consent. Controlling who you can and cannot be friends with on social media and sending insulting messages using digital platforms.
  • 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.
  • Spiritual/cultural abuse includes not allowing you to practice your chosen religion or cultural beliefs, or misusing religious or spiritual traditions to justify physical or other abuse towards you.
  • Stalking includes constantly worrying or frightening you by following you, watching you, phoning you, writing you letters, messaging you, waiting outside your home or workplace.
  • Sexual abuse is any forced or unwanted sexual contact or activity.
  • Damage to Personal Property which can include using physical strength or violence to intimidate you by causing or threatening to cause damage to your property or valuables.
  • Physical Abuse which 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. 

We will examine social isolation abuse. Social isolation abuse is behaviour that aims to cut you off from your family, friends, or community. It can also involve a person or people trying to damage your relationships with others. People who are socially abusive may also attempt to make you look bad or ruin your reputation. Social isolation abuse can include things done in the home, in public, over the phone, or on the internet and social media. There may be a pattern to the behaviour that happens again and again. Sometimes other types of abuse are going on at the same time. If this kind of abuse is being used to scare and control you it may be domestic or family violence. 

Social isolation abuse might include:

  • Stopping you from seeing friends, family, or other people
  • Not allowing you outside your home, room, or accommodation facility
  • Not allowing you to participate in social and community activities
  • Needing to know everywhere you have been or are going
  • Needing to know everyone you have seen or are planning to see
  • Checking or interfering with your mail, phone, email or social media
  • Sharing private photos or videos of you online without your permission
  • Using social media or the internet to spread lies or damaging information about you
  • Telling lies about you to friends and family or trying to turn others against you
  • Deliberately doing things to make you miss, or be late for, events, appointments or meetings
  • Deliberately doing things to make you look bad or embarrass you in front of others
  • Restricting access to your car, other forms of transport, wheelchair, or mobility aids

Social isolation abuse can be a form of domestic or family violence. If you or someone you know is experiencing social abuse it is OK to ask for help. Social isolation abuse can happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Carers or paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians or other family members
  • Adult children
  • Other people you live with or see often, whether inside or outside the home

None of these people has the right to harm or interfere with your relationships or reputation.


If you, or someone you know is experiencing domestic, family or sexual violence, DVConnect can help you find a pathway to safety, away from violence. The DVConnect helplines are:

  • Womensline 1800 811 811, available 24/7
  • Mensline 1800 600 636 available from 9am – midnight, 7 days
  • Sexual Assault Helpline 1800 010 120, available from 7.30am – 11.30pm, 7 days.
  • For more visit www.DVConnect.org.

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