For colleagues, family members and friends

What is family violence?

Many nurses, midwives and carers do not feel safe at home, they are controlled, threatened, hurt or live in fear of family members.

Family violence is when someone’s spouse, partner, ex, carer, family member or someone they are in a family-like relationship with uses threatening, controlling or violent behaviour that makes them scared for their own safety and wellbeing, or for the safety and wellbeing of someone else, such as their child or children.

Whilst most victim survivors of family violence are women and children, family violence can affect anyone, regardless of their sex, age, race, sexuality, disability, gender and lifestyle. It can occur in all types of families, including in LGBTIQA+ families. It can also occur across generations, such as by teenagers against their parents, by adults against their elderly parents or between siblings.

Family violence includes many types of behaviours used control or have power over someone else. Family violence doesn’t always involve physical abuse. Family violence is always a choice made by the person using the violence and control. It is not the fault of the victim.

It is never okay for someone to:

  • control where someone goes or whom they speak to
  • physically attack or hurt someone
  • threaten someone or their loved ones, including a pet
  • limit their access to necessities, including healthcare
  • stalk or monitor someone, including online
  • force someone to do sexual things they don’t want to do
  • put someone down or humiliate them
  • control their finances and financial decisions
  • threaten to take away their children
  • use their visa status to control them
  • stop them from practising religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs and rituals
  • make them feel scared to say ‘no’.

Family violence is not always easy to identify because the violence often not physical. All partners, family members and others in close relationships disagree or argue from time to time, even within a healthy relationship. When disagreements and arguments become a consistent pattern, it might be a sign of family violence.

People experiencing family violence may:

  • suddenly stop going out with no reason
  • worry a lot about making a particular person angry
  • make a lot of excuses for someone’s negative behaviour
  • have marks or injuries on their body that can’t be explained
  • stop spending time with friends and family
  • seem scared or wary around a particular person
  • seem worried that they are being watched, followed or controlled in some way.