Understanding domestic and family violence

Domestic and family violence happens when one person in a relationship uses violence or abuse to maintain control over the other person. It can take many forms including physical, sexual, verbal, emotional or financial abuse, threats, stalking or controlling behaviour.

  • Physical abuse includes pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, damaging property or making threats to hurt you, your family, friends or pets.
  • Sexual abuse is forcing or coercing you into any level of sexual conduct.
  • Social abuse involves controlling where and when you go, not letting you see your friends or family and isolating you from people you care about and who care about you.
  • Financial abuse means preventing or limiting your access to your own or joint funds, forcing you to hand over your money or coercing you to sign legal documents.
  • Emotional abuse is behaviour that makes you feel worthless including criticising your personality, looks or parenting skills.
  • Verbal abuse includes yelling, shouting, name calling and swearing at you.
  • Spiritual abuse involves both forcing you to attend religious activities or stopping you from participating in your religion.
  • Stalking behaviours include constantly following or phoning you, cyberstalking or tracking you online, waiting for you outside your home, workplace or anywhere you go.
  • Technology abuse involves hacking into your personal email or social media accounts, posting abusive statements or making threats online and posting images of you online without your consent.

Everyone has the right to feel safe

If you are experiencing domestic and family violence, you are not alone.


  • support is available any time you are impacted by violence
  • you are not to blame for your partner’s violence
  • you have the right to be safe
  • you have the right to live a life free of violence.

Domestic and family violence can take many forms

Healthy relationships are based on love and mutual respect, not power and control. If you do not feel safe, supported and respected, you may be experiencing domestic and family violence.

Domestic and family violence affects people from all walks of life. It’s not limited to intimate partner relationships and it’s not limited to people from any one culture, age, sexuality or social-economic background.

What to look out for

There are signs that may suggest someone you know is experiencing domestic and family violence.

  • Do they seem afraid of their partner or very anxious to please them?
  • Have they stopped seeing you, other friends or family and become isolated?
  • Have they become anxious or depressed, unusually quiet or less confident?
  • Do they have no say, or very little say, in how their money is spent?
  • Are they reluctant to leave their children with their partner?

You can be part of the solution

Sadly, many people who experience domestic and family violence don’t tell anyone about it. They might be afraid of revenge or further violence. Other reasons might include pregnancy, children, lack of money, low self-esteem, love or social pressure. With this in mind, it’s important that others in the community are alert to the signs of domestic and family violence and know how to respond.

Everyone has a right to feel safe, protected and free from fear and violence.

How to help

You can support those who are experiencing domestic and family violence by:

  • listening to what they have to say
  • respecting their right to make their own decision
  • letting them know domestic and family violence is not their fault
  • focusing on their safety and that of their children
  • letting them know that domestic and family violence is not just physical violence
  • letting them know there are support services and legal help available.

Coast residents stand together against domestic violence

More than 300 Sunshine Coast residents gathered at Centacare’s annual candlelight vigil and community march at Maroochydore during Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month.

Read more