Family violence is when your partner, ex, carer, family member or someone you’re in a ‘family-like’ relationship with uses threatening, controlling and violent behaviour that makes you scared for your own – or someone else’s – safety and wellbeing.

Family violence doesn’t always involve physical or sexual abuse. People use a wide range of abusive behaviours to maintain power and control in relationships.

Green house with a door opening
No matter what form it takes, family violence is never acceptable. It is never okay for someone to:
  • Control where you go or who you speak to
  • Physically attack or hurt you
  • Threaten you or your loved ones, including pets and animals
  • Limit your access to necessities, including face masks or healthcare
  • Stalk or monitor you, including online
  • Force you to do sexual things you don’t want to do
  • Regularly put you down, humiliate you or attack your self-esteem
  • Control your finances and financial decisions
  • Threaten to take away something you value, like custody of your children or your visa status
  • Stop you from practising religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs and rituals
  • Make you feel scared to say ‘no’ to doing something

Take the quiz

Sometimes it can be difficult to identify family violence, especially if it is happening to you by someone you love.

Take the quiz to learn about the different forms of family and domestic violence, see if you are experiencing abuse and find out what you can do to get help. 

Coming soon!

Getting help

It is important to get help if you are experiencing family violence.

Although reaching out for help can seem like a big step to take, there are people and services there to help you. You can find a range of services in your state on the Find a Service page. 

Ways to stay safe

As well as contacting finding help and a support service, there are other things you can think about doing to help keep yourself safe.

Make a safety plan

Whether you are planning to leave home or stay, you may wish to think about practical things you can do to help keep yourself and your family safe. The best way to make a safety plan is with the help of a specialist family violence service, you can find a range of these services in your state.

Things to consider:

  • Plan where you will go and how you will get there if you need to leave in a hurry
  • Keep important items such as spare keys, money, a charged back-up phone, identification and important documents in an easily accessible place or with a trusted person
  • Keep a list of emergency and support contacts handy or stored in a safe, private phone
  • Teach your children that during a violent incident how they can stay safe
  • Choose a code word that alerts your children to leave and go to a pre-arranged meeting spot
  • Create and discuss signals to alert your neighbours, family or friends when to intervene or call triple zero (000)

Talk to someone you trust

It might help to confide in someone you trust about what you’re going through. This could be a friend, a family member or a professional such as your GP, counsellor or teacher. They may be able to offer emotional and practical support or play a role in your safety plan. Keep them informed about what’s happening at home.

Find a safe place to stay

If you need to leave home to escape family violence and don’t have somewhere safe to stay, you may be able to access temporary accommodation through a housing or crisis service in your state.

Document the abuse

It can be useful to keep a record of someone’s behaviour that makes you feel threatened or afraid. This will help you explain your situation to other people, support services, the police or in court. There are tools available to help you document the abuse, including the Arc app which you can use to record your story safely on your smartphone.

Apply for an intervention order

A Family Violence Intervention Order or FVIO is a legal order issued by a court to protect you and your children from someone’s abusive or violent behaviour. 

You can apply for an FVIO online or call your nearest court to discuss other ways to apply. You can also ask a specialist family violence or legal service for help with your application. 

When your application is received, someone from the Magistrates’ Court will call you to explain the next steps, including a court hearing date. Visit the Magistrates’ Court website for more information. Before your hearing, it’s a good idea to speak with a legal service about your situation and get some advice. 

Seek legal advice

Legal services can help you understand what the law says about the violence, your relationship, separation, custody of your children, money and property. They can help you take out an intervention order to protect you from the person using violence, or make safe arrangements for your children. A specialist family violence service can help connect you with an appropriate legal service or you can contact a community legal service directly.

Access financial support

If you’re finding it hard to make ends meet, you might be able to access financial support through Centrelink. To learn more and find out whether you meet the crisis payment eligibility criteria, check out the Centrelink website or call 132 850 (8am-5pm, Monday-Friday). 

Support for LGBTIQA+ people

People use a wide range of abusive behaviours to maintain power and control in relationships, and for LGBTIQA+ folks, this violence may target their gender identity or sexuality.

Because of biphobia, homophobia, transphobia, heterosexism and heteronormativity, there are different risks and barriers that may stop LGBTIQA+ adults, couples, parents and young people from accessing support for family violence.

You deserve to be safe, happy and supported in your relationships. Support is available if you do not feel that way.  

Easy English

Information from this website is also available in an Easy English downloadable booklet called ‘How to feel safe at home if there is family violence’.