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About family violence

About family violence

Domestic and family violence is the repeated use of violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour by an individual against a family member or someone with whom they have, or have had, an intimate relationship. 

Domestic and family violence can include behaviours such as regularly putting someone down using verbal abuse, making threats, using physical violence, damaging property, and controlling or keeping tabs on who someone sees, what they do and where they go. 

People who use domestic and family violence assume they have the right to be in charge and dominate people close to them. Their behaviour causes people to feel fear for their own safety and sometimes for the safety of other family members or pets.

Family violence happens to women (and, less often, men) from all cultures and walks of life. Most often it involves men abusing their female partners, girlfriends or wives. But abuse can also happen in gay and lesbian relationships, between parents and older children, and between siblings, or any other family members. People with disabilities can be abused by carers whether they are family members or not.

In Aboriginal and some other communities the definition of family may include kinship groups and other community members.

Domestic and family violence continues to affect many people in Victoria (as well as around Australia and the world) today, even though most Victorians agree that violence against women is a serious issue. (VicHealth Community Attitudes Survey 2009).

Key statistics show that:

  • A woman is killed in Australia almost every week by a partner or ex-partner (AIC, 2007/2008)
  • More than one in three Australian women (34%) who have had an intimate partner, have experienced violence from a partner or ex-partner (Mouzos & Makkai, 2004)
  • Women and girls constitute the majority of reported victims of family and sexual violence to Victoria Police. 77% of reported family violence victims and 89.09% of reported rape victims are women and girls (Victoria Police 2009/10)
  • In Victoria, the number of family incident reports submitted by police rose 21.6% between 2011/12 and 2012/13 from 50,382 to 60, 829. This is on top of a 23.4% increase over the previous financial year (Victoria Police 2011/12)

(For a more detailed list of family violence statistics see the EVAs’ Guide to Reporting on Violence Against Women)