What is Domestic and Family Violence (DFV)?

Domestic violence refers to a pattern of violent and/or coercive behaviours between current or former intimate partners – typically where one partner tries to exert power and control over the other, usually through fear. It can include physical, sexual, emotional/psychological, social, verbal, spiritual and financial abuse.

Family violence is a broader term that refers to violence between family members, which can include violence between current or former intimate partners, as well as acts of violence between a parent and a child, between siblings, and more.

What is coercive control ?

Coercive control refers to the recognition of a pattern of behaviors that someone uses to gain power and control over another person, that they are in a domestic relationship with. While it may include physical abuse (including sexual) it is not just a reactive behavior as a result of an incident but more typically, a pattern of subtle behaviors to gain power and control and instill fear in their victim. Coercive control is an intricate web of abuse and that traps the victim. Abusers typically use a variety of types of abuse when building their web.  Guide-to-understanding-and-responding-to-coercive-control-abuse-and-violence.

How is it done ? – the typical process

  1. Establishing trust and intimacy
  2. Isolation from family/friends
  3. Monopolizing partners perceptions – reframing what is happening as their fault, or something they have to help fix.
  4. Humiliation/degradation
  5. Alternating between punishment and reward, oppression/kindness. See cycle of violence.
  6. Setting up rules for the relationship. Victims compliance.
  7. Inducing a state of exhaustion and debilitation
  8. Threats
  9. Ensuring victim compliance
  10. Trapping the victim. The victim becomes very invested in trying to make things better.

Who are victims of DFV and Coercive Control?

Sexual, domestic and family violence can happen to anyone, regardless of the country they are from, religion, sexuality, gender, age, social background or culture.

It can also happen in any relationship, including with:

  • Boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, husbands or wives
  • Ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, ex-partners, ex-husbands or ex-wives
  • Hetero sexual and LGBTQIA+ relationships
  • Carers and paid support workers
  • Parents, guardians and other family members
  • Adult children.

However the uncomfortable truth is that it is a gendered crime. This means more often than not males are the abusers and females the victims. Although men can also be victims statistically they are perpetrators and their a high incidences of recidivism.



DFV is the number 1 threat to public safety in Australia. 40-60% of police time is being spent on DFV. Only 20% of victims report.

1 in 4 women experience domestic abuse.

When most people think of domestic violence they think of physical abuse or rape. While these are the most obvious forms of abuse and often the ones that are reported in the news, they are not the most common cases. Physical violence is only one type of abuse. There are many forms of abuse that go unreported, and it is often these more subtle, silent forms of abuse that leave the deepest scars.

The power and control wheel – click here to view.

Other types of abuse include:

  • Financial abuse …… when the perpetrator uses money to control and manipulate the victim.
  • Technological abuse ….. the use of social media and or GPS technology to stalk, intimate and track victims; continual text messages that threaten or harass, posting of inappropriate images an/or harassing or threatening comments
  • Verbal abuse – putting down, yelling, screaming, derogatory comments
  • Sexual abuse – harassment to sexual assault
  • Emotional/Psychological abuse including “Gaslighting”. Gas-lighting is a tactic that refers to emotional/psychological manipulation and control. It is when the perpetrator manipulates information so that the victim believes they are the problem; they’re anxious, they’re over thinking, they’re paranoid and have misread the situation. Victims become very confused and begin to question their own perspective, their judgement, and reality.


The affects of DFV are felt by everyone in the family, children, parents etc but also in the wider community AND Violence and abuse presents differently depending on socio-economic, race, colour, education, and/or religion, YET the end result is the same for all victims – a sense of worthlessness, helplessness, and low self-esteem.

The cycle of violence – click here.


  • Mental Health: Self Harm. Eating Disorders. Substance Abuse. Anxiety. Depression. Suicide
  • Behavioral issues: Withdrawn, Aggressive, Dis-obedience, low self -esteem
  • Social Isolation
  • Grief and Sadness
  • Worry. Shame. Helplessness. Self Blame.
  • Conflict with parents/friends/at school
  • Poorly developed communication skills
  • Disturbed sleep/nightmares
  • Poor concentration. Low academic achievement. Learning difficulties. Decrease participation at school.
  • Physical symptoms
  • Experience violence in their own relationships


SAD      ALONE         SCARED

Trapped                               Shamed               UGLY     Embarrassed    STUPID

Blameworthy   SICK               CONFUSED

Tired      Anxious Depressed

Overwhelmed  HELPLESS              Worried

On Edge                               exhausted          PANICKED

Worthless                            terrorized


  • Police – 000
  • Domestic Violence 24 hour hotline -1800 656 463
  • NSW Rape Crisis Centre – 1800 424 017
  • Violence Against Women Helpline – 1800 200 526
  • Domestic Violence Advocacy Service – 8745 6999
  • Law Access Line – 1300 888 529