What’s it all about?

What is family and domestic violence?

Family and domestic violence (FDV) is when one person intentionally uses threats, force or intimidation to control and manipulate the other person. It happens in relationships where the balance of power is unequal.

It’s different to family fights and arguments – every family has disagreements. But when a person abuses other by hitting, throwing things or threatening to harm them, it becomes FDV.

It could be your parents doing it to each other, or your parents doing it to you or your siblings. Or maybe you know someone who is experiencing at home or in their relationship?

More than hitting?

Physical forms of violence such as hitting, shoving and kicking are understood by many people to be domestic violence. Other forms of FDV tend to be less well recognised and understood.

When domestic violence is occurring in a family/relationship, more than one form of abuse is usually present. Some victims are never physically abused but experience a range of other behaviour designed to control and intimidate them.

Family and domestic violence includes:

  • Sexual abuse – demands for sex when one person does not want to participate, threats of physical violence during sex, rape, being forced to watch sexual acts or pornography, being forced to do things on person does not want to do.
  • Emotional/Psychological abuse – humiliation, threats, insults, harassment, playing mind games, accusing their partner of having an affair, denying or minimising the abuse, blaming the victim for the abuse.
  • Verbal abuse – put downs, insults, name calling, swearing.
  • Social abuse – controlling access to family and friends, controlling use of the telephone, isolating their partner from others, not allowing their partner to have a job or other interests outside the home, forbidding their partner to go out, wanting to know where their partner is all the time.
  • Physical abuse – punching, choking, pushing, shoving, kicking, hair pulling, throwing and smashing objects, injuring pets, damaging property and the threat of all of these.
  • Economic abuse – controlling the household income, not allowing money for personal use, not allowing their partner access to bank accounts.

Family and domestic violence also includes other forms of control, such as making decisions for their partner and excessive jealousy.

How do I know if it’s abuse? Maybe it’s normal? Click on the following checklists to see.

How do I know if it's abuse?

Has this happened to you?
  • A parent or someone in your family has hurt you physically, or tried to hurt you?
  • Your parent threatens to hurt or kill you or a family pet, or acts in a way that intentionally scares and intimidates you?
  • Your parents do not look after you or take proper care of you?
  • You are constantly put down or criticized by a parent and made to feel stupid and worthless? This includes a parent embarrassing you when friends come over by putting you down or laughing at you.
  • A parent or someone else in your family has touched you in a way that made you feel uncomfortable, or has forced or tricked you into doing something sexual or uncomfortable? This includes taking inappropriate photographs?
  • Any of the above has happened to your brothers or sisters?

If you answered Yes to any of the above statements, it could mean that you or your brothers and sisters aren’t being treated right by a parent or family member.

If you are confused about what is and is not OK, you can contact a counsellor or helpline to talk to them about it.

Has this happened between your parents?

Is this happening in your home?
  • One parent constantly puts down the other parent, calls them names, and criticizes what they do?
  • One parent makes the other parent feel nervous, scared, or intimidated?
  • One parent stops the other parent from seeing friends and family, or makes people feel uncomfortable when they come to visit? This includes one parent not letting the other parent use the car or telephone.
  • One parent has hit, kicked, pushed, choked, thrown things at, or physically hurt the other? This includes hurting pets or smashing the other parent’s belongings.
  • One parent has threatened to do any of these acts to the other parent?
  • One parent controls all the money and doesn’t allow the other parent money, or one parent blames the other for financial losses?
  • One parent doesn’t allow the other to practice or attend religious rituals, including in their own home?

If you answered Yes to any of these statements, one of your parents might not be treating the other very well.

If you would like to learn more about what is and isn’t OK, and who you can talk to or where to get help, you can visit here.

For facts and stats about family and domestic violence in Western Australia and nationally, visit the Resources page to download fact sheets and links to external websites.

To read about other young people’s experiences with family and domestic violence, visit True Stories.

To view the support services available, visit Get Help