Domestic violence

Domestic violence is a crime

If you are experiencing domestic or family violence, the information in this section aims to help you make informed choices to protect your safety and wellbeing, and to find support.

Often, a domestic violence perpetrator (offender) will blame the person they are victimising and will use threats to stop you from leaving the situation. Domestic violence offenders are usually a significant person in your life, so it can be difficult to escape the abuse. 

The information in this section has been adapted from the booklet Domestic Violence is a Crime, written by the City of Sydney and the NSW Police Force.

The City is a White Ribbon workplace, recognised by White Ribbon Australia’s workplace accreditation program for taking active steps to prevent and respond to domestic and family violence.

What is domestic and family violence?

Domestic and family violence is a pattern of behaviours that aim to control or hurt another person.

The person committing the violence may be targeting a family member, someone they are or have been in a relationship with, or someone they live with.

Abusive behaviours can include physical, psychological or emotional harm, sexual assault or limiting the social, spiritual or financial freedom of another person.

Domestic and family violence takes many forms, including:

  • assault or indecent assault
  • threats to you, your family or children
  • stalking
  • insulting or degrading comments
  • forcing you to take part in sexual acts that hurt you, make you feel bad or you don’t want to do
  • harassment, including phone calls, text messages and online
  • driving dangerously or damaging property to scare or injure you
  • using coercive or controlling behaviours
  • cruelty to pets
  • breaching an apprehended domestic violence order

How does it happen?

  • Domestic violence is never acceptable.
  • The victim is never to blame.
  • Actions need to be taken to prevent further harm.

Family or domestic violence can happen once, or a few times over a longer period or it can increase gradually over time. It is most often a pattern of behaviour where someone exerts control over their partner, family or another significant person in their life on repeated occasions. It can take place more often when the person committing the violence, the perpetrator, is stressed, intoxicated or drug affected.

Perpetrators (offenders) will often take steps to limit the victim’s access to friends and social support to increase their control. Many people put up with violence hoping things will improve. Often people are afraid of ending the relationship, and worry about the potential risks to family members or pets if they try to escape or stop the violence.

The effects of violence may be experienced by all members of a family or household. Children are particularly at risk of psychological harm and can experience the same sense of powerlessness, despair and emotional distress as the person who is the target of the violence. There is strong evidence that children are affected by domestic violence even if they never see physical abuse taking place. 

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Last updated: Wednesday, 20 July 2016