Domestic violence, sometimes called family violence, is against the law. You have the right to feel safe at home and you should never have to see or experience it. It is okay to complain and to talk to someone.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is when someone close to you threatens you or does something to harm you or someone else in your family.
Domestic violence can include:
- physical assault: punching, hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, choking, or using weapons;
- sexual assault: being forced to have sex or do sexual activities, either by watching or participating;
- emotional or psychological abuse: making you feel worthless, criticising your personality, your looks, the way you dress, constantly putting you down, threatening to hurt you, your children, or your pets;
- economic abuse: taking control of the money, not giving you enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your money, not letting you have a say in how it is spent;
- threatening or intimidating you: stalking, yelling, shouting, name-calling, swearing at you (this could be spoken or in writing, for example through SMS texting or Facebook);
- damaging your property or harming your pets or
- any other abuse to control or dominate you: stopping you from seeing your friends and family, or isolating you from others.
This person can be someone in your family or can be a boyfriend or girlfriend, someone living with you, a relative, a parent or carer, or even your parents’ partner.
Domestic violence can happen to you, or someone else in your family, e.g. violence between your parents. If you see it happening to someone else in your family you should still report it.
If you witness, overhear or are exposed to domestic violence, this could also be child abuse. You have the right to be safe from all types of abuse. See the Child Abuse Fact Sheet for more information: http://www.lawstuff.org.au/legal-help/resources/Child-Abuse.
What can I do?
Domestic violence is unacceptable. If you see it occur or are a victim of it, you should report it. Everyone has a right to be safe from any type of violence.
If you or anyone else is in immediate danger of being hurt, call the Police on 000.
If you feel unsafe or are in danger you should also call the 24 Hours Child Abuse Report Line on 131 478. This is provided by the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion, who deal with the care and protection of young people.
If you feel unsafe in your home because of the violence that is happening, it is important to talk to someone. If you do not speak to anyone, or report what is happening, then no one will know what is going on and they can’t help you. You could talk to an adult you trust and feel comfortable with, like a family friend or your teacher. Below is a list of important contacts you can call if you need to talk to someone else.
What will happen if I report?
If you call the Police or the Child Abuse Report Line, information you give is kept confidential – the person who is causing the violence will not be told that you have contacted them. The Police or the authorities may investigate what is happening. If they are worried about your safety, a court order can be made preventing the person from hurting you, such as an Intervention Order.
- Domestic Violence Crisis Service:
Call 1300 782 200
This is a crisis response service. They can provide a telephone assessment and referral service for people escaping domestic violence.
(National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service)
Call 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au
They can provide 24 hour counselling, support and referral for anyone whose life has been impacted by sexual, domestic or family violence.
For any legal questions you have, write us a Lawmail and we can give you free legal advice, information and referrals to local services. To send us a Lawmail, visit the Lawstuff website at www.lawstuff.org.au – then select your State or Territory’s Lawstuff page and follow the links to send us a Lawmail.
Disclaimer: This is legal information not advice specific to you. If you would like specific advice about a legal question, please send us a Lawmail.
This page was last reviewed in 2012.