What is Family Violence?

Family Violence and abuse comes in various forms and is not only regarded as physical abuse, but can also be verbal, emotional, social, economic/ financial, sexual and spiritual. It is any behaviour which seeks to:

  • To control or dominate another person
  • Hurt or lower another person’s self-esteem
  • Restrict another person’s choices


Forms of emotional abuse can include: making accusations, putting someone down, ridiculing them, blackmail, threatening, giving the ‘silent treatment’ and abusing children in the family. Emotional violence and abuse can also take the form of stalking and disabling the phone.


Forms of physical abuse can include: pushing, shaking, shoving, pinching, slapping, punching, kicking, twisting limbs, pulling hair, using guns, knives and other weapons. It also includes smashing up the house – crockery and furniture, punching holes in the walls and doors, throwing or destroying personal possessions and hurting or killing family pets.


Forms of sexual violence and abuse can include: demanding sex, treating you like an object, demanding sexual practices against your will and rape.


Forms of verbal abuse can include: shouting abuse, humiliation in private and in the front of others and name calling.


Forms of financial/ economic abuse can include: having to always ask for money, having to account for every dollar and cent, not having access to a bank account, not being involved in any financial decisions, being kept ‘short’ , stopping the credit card and being offered money in return for spending time together.


Forms of social abuse can include: stopping friends or family visiting, being critical about time spent outside of the house, going everywhere and doing everything together, checking up on where you are all the time, not being allowed to have personal friends and jealousy and possessiveness.


Forms of spiritual abuse can include: ridiculing your religion or spiritual beliefs, using religion to enforce male privilege, preventing you from attending church or expressing your religious and spiritual beliefs and not allowing the celebration of religious holidays.

Family Violence most commonly happens between people who are in, or have been in, an intimate relationship.

Family Violence can occur across all socio-economic and cultural groups.

Violence and abuse of any form is not acceptable and is a breach of a person’s human rights. In Tasmania some forms of abuse – such as physical and sexual violence and the threat of such violence – are criminal offences.

Understanding the Impact of Family Violence on Children and Young People

Children who witness or experience family violence and abuse, carry that experience with them into their adulthood. They grow up in an environment that is unpredictable and filled with tension and anxiety. Instead of growing up in an environment which is emotionally secure, nurturing and predictable, these children can grow up worrying about the future and the safety of those closest to them.

Children who live in homes where there is Family Violence learn that:

  • You hit people you love
  • Parents hit children
  • There is a moral high ground to in using abuse and violence as a method of interaction
  • When all else fails, violent and abusive behaviours get you what you want
  • Violence and abuse is a way to get rid of horrible feelings and solve problems

Children often present as:

  • Being fearful, withdrawn, anxious and confused
  • Having problems sleeping and experiencing nightmares
  • Having low self-esteem and issues in trusting their feelings
  • Having physical symptoms including headaches, skin conditions, upset tummies
  • Begin bedwetting
  • Aggressive and rebelling against adults.

Children learn how to treat others by watching, listening, being directed and being part of a “family experience”……interacting with each other.

Understanding the Impacts of Family Violence and Abuse

Family violence can have a significant impact on the health and well-being on those women experiencing it, in both the immediate and longer term. It increases the risk of women developing a range of health problems, both physical and psychological.

There are many ways in which Family Violence and abuse can affect a person. These can include:

  • Physical injury
  • Impacts on physical health through both short and long term stress
  • Living in fear
  • Anxiety, depression and psychological numbness
  • Feelings of shame and self-blame for what is happening
  • Isolation from family and friends
  • Challenging to parent effectively
  • Disability
  • Death

Family Violence not only affects those who are exposed to it and their children, but also their family and friends and the broader community.

Respectful Relationships

For any relationship to be healthy and respectful, both parties need to feel safe, be equal, valued and accepted for who they are.

Everyone has the right to feel safe, valued and accepted.

Being in a respectful relationship does not mean that you and your partner may not have differences, it’s how you deal with those differences that matter. It’s about differences can being dealt with in ways which lead to mutual understanding or resolution. It’s about accepting that the other person has a different point of view and appreciating that it’s okay to have different ideas.

Respectful relationships:

  • Are flexible about people’s individual choices
  • Are considerate of each person’s needs
  • Will acknowledge differences and find ways to accommodate them
  • Value each person’s opinion
  • Doesn’t mean expecting one person’s needs to be put aside for another’s
  • It’s not about trying to change someone but working to understand their point of view, even if it is different from yours
  • Are about communicating how you feel and listening to what the other person has to say