Types of Family & Domestic Violence

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There are many different types of family and domestic violence, which include a range of behaviours that can have psychological, emotional and physical impacts. These behaviours can include:

Physical Abuse

Use or threatened use of physical force directed at you, your children, your pets or your material possessions. This can start off with slapping or shoving, and escalate to punching, kicking or anything which can be classed as assault.


  • Violence, or threats of violence
  • Strangulation/putting pressure around neck or throat
  • Damaging/destroying your property
  • Locking you in rooms or out of the house
  • Denying basic needs such as sleep, food or medical assistance
  • Rape

Verbal Abuse

Spoken or written statements criticising or humiliating you. This type of abuse can have an enormous impact on your self-esteem and self-worth, and is often accompanied by physical and other forms of abuse.


  • Criticising your appearance, intelligence, or how you parent
  • Yelling
  • Inappropriate jokes
  • Name calling
  • Gas lighting (manipulating you so that you doubt yourself, your thoughts or your feelings)

Emotional Abuse

When someone manipulates how you feel, it can leave you feeling anxious, worthless and even depressed. Emotional abuse is equally as harmful as physical abuse.


  • Causing fear
  • Blaming you for relationship problems
  • Making you question your thoughts and feelings
  • Making you feel as if no one will help you or that you deserve to be abused
  • Humiliating you
  • Rejecting you

Social Abuse

Controlling who you are allowed to interact with or the amount of time you spend with your family and friends. Social abuse can cause you to feel isolated, and can make it very difficult to leave an abusive relationship, through perceived lack of support.


  • Accessing and reading your emails or social media accounts/ messages without your consent
  • Verbally abusing you in public or in front of your friends and family
  • Moving you far away from your friends and family
  • Not allowing you to spend time with family or friends
  • Not allowing you or your children to be involved with community activities
  • Sharing private photos of you online
  • Deliberately embarrassing you in public

Financial Abuse

Controlling your money (or your access to money), or your ability to work. This can be obvious (e.g. preventing you from working) or can be subtle (e.g. taking control of your bank accounts).


  • Controlling what you spend your money on
  • Preventing you from working
  • Restricting your access to your bank account
  • Refusing to work or contribute to household expenses
  • Using your credit card, or obtaining a credit card/ accumulating debt in your name purposefully and without your permission
  • Forging your signature or forcing you to sign something you do not want , or do not understand
  • Selling your assets without your permission
  • Forcing changes to Power of Attorney or Wills

Digital/ Technological Abuse

Abuse that takes place online or with the use of technology. Technology can make it difficult to escape the person using violence, abuse or intimidation, as they have a virtual way to contact you. Though you may think it is less serious because it does not involve a physical element, it is as harmful as physical abuse and is treated very seriously in the eyes of the law.


  • Sharing explicit, private, or humiliating photos or videos
  • Using technology to monitor your location
  • Going through your search history or reading your messages
  • Sending threatening or intimidating messages or voice mails
  • Hijacking/ assuming control over your social media or other online accounts
  • Cyber stalking

Spiritual/ Cultural Abuse

Controlling or limiting the practice of your religion and culture. This can have an enormous impact on your sense of identity, worth and intelligence.


  • Not allowing you to practice elements of your religion or culture
  • Forcing you or your children to participate in religious or cultural practices
  • Using religion or culture to justify abusive behaviour
  • Insulting your religion or culture


The act of intentionally and persistently following you, either physically or via technology. This behaviour can make you feel like as though you are constantly in danger.


  • Tracking your location through your phone or social media
  • Waiting for you outside your work, home, or places that you visit
  • Following and intimidating you
  • Giving unwanted gifts
  • Making constant unwanted contact and sending threatening messages

Sexual Abuse

Forcing you to participate in unwanted sexual activity or the act of making unwanted approaches of a sexual nature. Sexual abuse does not always involve an element of physical violence, and can also include verbal taunts and intimidation.


  • Rape – Pressuring or forcing you to have sex and/ or having sex with you when you are unable to consent
  • Refusing to use protection when having sex
  • Showing you or your children pornography
  • Coercing you to perform degrading sexual acts

Reproductive Abuse

The act of attempting to control your choices about your reproductive system.


  • Pressuring you to have sex without protection
  • Restricting your access to birth control
  • Deliberately tampering with your birth control
  • Pressuring you to keep or abort a pregnancy
  • Taking away or otherwise limiting your choices regarding reproduction
  • Purposefully passing on to you a sexually transmitted disease/infection

Visa Abuse

The act of using your visa or immigration status to control you.


  • Threatening to cancel your visa
  • Making claims about being able to control the outcome of your visa application

It can be very confronting to read this information, and to realise that you might be experiencing domestic violence or be in an abusive. Being in a rural or remote area may cause you to feel even more alone than ever. You are not alone.

DVassist understands that reaching out for help can be hard. It is important to remember that there is help and support available. To speak confidentially with an experienced family and domestic violence counsellor you can find  help locally with our online directory, of local domestic violence support services.

If you cannot find help locally, we also have a comprehensive list of state and national domestic and family violence services providers you can contact.

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