Understanding Domestic Violencee

Caboolture Regional Domestic Violence Service Inc.
and Centre against Violence Department of Communities, Queensland Government 2011

Domestic violence (DV) is the use of any form of violence by one person to control another and is used to describe any abuse that occurs in intimate relationships. In the majority of cases of domestic violence the victims are women. The abuse may continue long after the relationship has ended.

Domestic violence needs to be understood in the context of social inequality, not on the dynamics of individual relationships. Generally women in a DV situation did not enter into a relationship believing that it will become violent. There are occasions when women may make log-term relationship commitments believing that a marriage or marriage-like commitment will put a stop to extreme jealousy and possessiveness. There are also occasions when women enter longer term commitments out of fear.

For many women, physical and sexual violence does not begin until a year or so into a long-term relationship, often during pregnancy. The controlling and dominating behaviour prior to long-term commitment is often interpreted as jealousy and often considered a compliment to a woman as a sign of his love for her. Within a relationship, disagreements and arguments do occur. This is normal and both partners should be able to put forward their different points of view or concerns and discuss them together. It is not normal for one partner to feel threatened, too frightened to argue back and too frightened to disagree or express their opinion.


Fear: is a key element in DV and is often the most powerful way a perpetrator controls his victim. Fear can be created by looks, gestures, possession of weapons (even when they may not be used), destruction of property, cruelty to pets – or any behaviour which can be used to intimidate and render powerless.

Intimidation: include harassing her at her workplace either by persistent phone calls or text messages, following her to and from work or loitering near work. It could also include smashing things, destroying her property, putting a fist through the wall, handling of guns or other weapons, intimidating body language (angry looks, raised voice), hostile questioning and reckless driving.

Verbal Abuse: includes screaming, shouting, put-downs, name-calling, sarcasm and ridicule about beliefs. Physical Abuse: Physical violence can range from a lack of consideration for physical comfort to permanent damage or death. It could include such behaviour as pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, choking, hair-pulling, punching etc. and may or may not involve the use of weapons. It could also be threats to, or actually destroying prized possessions.

Emotional Abuse:
Deliberately undermining confidence, leading her to believe she is insane, stupid, a "bad mother" or useless. This type of abuse humiliates, degrades and demeans the victim. Threats include those to harm them or someone else, threats to take the children and to commit suicide. Behaviour can also be silence and withdrawing.

Social Abuse:
This behaviour includes isolation from social networks, verbal or physical abuse in public or in front of friends and family.

Economic Abuse:
This results in the victim being financially dependent on her partner by denying access to money, including her own and demanding that she and the children live on inadequate resources. These can be contributing factors for women becoming trapped in abusive relationships.

Sexual Abuse:
Sexual assault is an act of violence, power and control. It can include many behaviours including forced sexual contact, being forced to perform sexual acts that cause pain or humiliation, forcing her to have sex with others and causing injury. Controlling Behaviours: Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, where she goes, keeping her from making any friends, talking to her family or having any money, preventing her from going to work, not allowing her to express her own feelings and thoughts, not allowing her any privacy, forcing her to go without food or water. Not allowing cultural, religious or personal freedom. Controlling behaviours may be linked to unfounded jealousy.

Can involve various activities such as loitering, sending persistent telephone calls and mail and being continually watched. To be classified as stalking, more than one type of behaviour has to occur or the same behaviour has to occur more than once.