There are things lots of people don’t understand about domestic, family and sexual violence. Domestic, family and sexual violence is not always physical. It can be verbal, emotional, financial, social, psychological, digital, sexual, spiritual or cultural, or it could involve stalking, as well as damage to personal property.

Nobody has the right to harm you. Not husbands, partners, ex-husbands or ex-partners, friends, family members, boyfriends, girlfriends or strangers. Nobody.

These facts sheets will help you and others learn about what violence is, who it affects and what you can do to keep yourself and others 


What is domestic family and sexual violence?

Domestic, family and sexual violence includes all forms of violence between intimate partners, and violence between members of a family, extended family or household. If your partner, husband or wife, someone in your family, or your house is violent towards you, it’s ok to get help. Even if you’re not sure, you can get help.

Domestic violence is not just hitting. There are a lot of types of abuse and violence. Domestic family and sexual violence is when one person behaves in a way that dominates or tries to control another person. This makes the victim feel scared, powerless and hurt. It is because the violent person is trying to feel powerful and in control. This abusive behaviour often gets worse over time.

Violence and abuse come in many forms – including one, or more of those listed below, and in any combination:

  • Cultural deprivation
  • Cyber abuse
  • Emotional, psychological and verbal abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Intimidation and threats
  • Legal abuse
  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Religious or spiritual abuse
  • Reproductive abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Social abuse and isolation
  • Stalking

All forms of domestic family and sexual violence can cause harm. Physical harm can be seen, but emotional, psychological and verbal harm also has damaging and long-lasting impacts on your health and wellbeing.

If you are, or have been, stopped from living your life in the way you want to; or you are, or have been, forced to behave a certain way, or do things you don’t want to do, you may be experiencing domestic violence.

Domestic violence is never your fault

More here on Types of Abuse

Who does domestic, family and sexual violence affect?

Domestic, family and sexual violence can happen to anyone and affects everyone differently. It is behaviour that is not normal and is not ok, but it is common.

If you are experiencing domestic violence you are not alone.

Domestic, family and sexual violence affects people from all over the world, it doesn’t matter where you come from, or where you live. It doesn’t matter what your race or your religion is, your sexuality, your gender or your social background and culture.

It can also happen in all kinds of relationships - partners, husbands, wives, ex-partners, ex-husbands, ex-wives, parents, guardians or other family members, adult children, carers, support workers or other people that live with you, or that you see regularly at home or in your community.

None of these people has the right to hurt you, or to make you live in fear.

Although violence can happen to anyone, some groups of people are more vulnerable and at often more at risk than others. They might also not be able to find the help they need as easily as others can. If this is you, we can offer help and support to you.

Aboriginal women in Central Australia are at high risk of domestic, family and sexual violence. Women who have just moved here, or who don’t speak or understand English or Australian culture are also at high risk. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) people are also vulnerable within the community and are one of the more high-risk groups of people that domestic, family and sexual violence might happen to.

As well as the people above, people who live in rural or remote parts of Australia, people who have a disability and people who have limited financial resources are also at risk.

The thing all of these people have in common is that they don’t think it could happen to them.

Here is some more informaiton about how domestic, family and sexual violence affects:

Indigenous women

LGBTQI people and

Women from other cultures (CALD)

What are the signs of violence in a relationship?

Every relationship is different, and sometimes we can get so used to how someone behaves that we think it’s normal. Behaviour that turns into violence is not normal and it’s never ok.

Below are some of the signs that you may be experiencing, or at risk of domestic, family and sexual violence happening. If you recognise them give us a call to talk about it.

Does your partner, husband or wife, girlfriend or boyfriend, lover, family member, friend, housemate or carer:

  • make you feel anxious, useless, humiliated or small?
  • make you feel scared to say ‘no’ to them?
  • want to know where you are all the time or where you have been?
  • dtop you from going to the doctor, the chemist, or the shops?
  • try to control who you see and when you see them?
  • get jealous very easily, especially if you are talking to someone?
  • take your phone from you to prevent you from calling friends and family?
  • control what money you have and how you spend it?
  • take your credit cards/Basics cards from you?
  • damage your property, like your phone, car, clothes or other belongings?
  • threaten you that they will hurt you or hurt someone else?
  • threaten to hurt themselves if you don’t do what they want?
  • pressure you to do sexual things you don’t want to do, or make you feel uncomfortable when they touch you?
  • become violent or aggressive towards you (like locking you in the house or car, slapping or punching you, hitting or pushing you, pulling your hair, throwing things at you or choking you)?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions then these are signs you are not being treated right and you may be in a domestic violence relationship.

If you want to find out more, or talk to someone, there are friendly staff favailable to you 24 hours a day at the Women’s Shelter, if you need them.

You should never feel scared or controlled in your relationship. It is your right to feel safe. You don't have to have experienced physical violence to be in a domestic violence relationship. Sometimes emotional abuse can be more damaging and hurtful than physical violence.

If you want to talk to someone you can also call any of these 24-hour helplines:

  • Women’s Safety Services of Central Australia (Alice Springs Women’s Shelter): 08 8952 6075
  • 1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732
  • Violence Free Families: 1800 800 098
  • Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (For counselling and information for young people aged between 5 and 25 years old.)

How do you support someone you think is being abused?

If you think someone is being abused you can find out more about it so you can support her. It can be hard to know what to do, but the most important thing is to make her feel safe and try not to judge her. This may encourage her to ask for help and make some decisions about safety and other things.

How can I be sure they are being abused?

If you’re not sure someone is being abused, think about how she may have changed recently. Physical signs such as bruises, cuts and broken bones are more obvious indicators, but her behaviour might be different too. She may be quieter than usual, seeing less of her friends and family, offer strange explanations about when she can do things, or why she had bruises, or why she doesn’t have money. If something seems not right to you, then you should think about talking to her to offer some support.

How do I approach her?

Being supportive doesn’t mean you have to fix the problem – you could simply let her know about the shelter and our outreach team, or you could give her some phone numbers or websites. Privacy and respect are important for everyone, but if you are worried about someone being abused and you don’t try to do something, the violence may continue.

It is everyone’s responsibility to stand up and make it known

that domestic, family and sexual violence is not okay.

If you think that violence is still happening, you can talk to her by saying things like “I’m worried about you because I’ve noticed that…” or “you’ve been a bit quiet lately, is everything ok…?”. Be discrete and remember that she might not want other people to know. Talk to her when she’s alone and make sure she knows it’s safe for her to talk to you. If she opens up to you, there are a lot of things you can do to reassure her and help her to find help.

How can I help?

Make sure she understands that it is not her fault. Help her to understand that violence is not right and that there are no excuses or explanations that make violence ok. Encourage her to seek help, but try not to tell her what to do, or judge her choices. Focus on how she and her children can stay safe, by talking about where they can go if they need to leave (such as a friend’s house or the shelter), what they need to prepare to be able to leave quickly and where she can find help locally to access support. Just remember, if she doesn’t want to talk to you, just let her know you are there for her when she is ready.

If a woman tells you she is being abused, or has been abused, the most important thing you can do is to listen to her and make sure she knows you believe her and are there to help her.

If you KNOW someone is in danger please call police immediately on 000.

Or go here to make a mandatory report to the police

Read more about about what you can do to help.

Legal rights and Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs)

Everybody has the right to feel safe and live free from violence in their homes and communities. This is a basic human right and the government manages this right by having laws that protect us and punish people who hurt us. Domestic and family violence, including assaults, threats, stalking and sexual assault are all crimes. It is against the law to assault or force someone else to have sex with you, even if you are married.

In the Northern Territory there is a specific domestic violence law to keep all people safe and protected from domestic violence. The law aims to reduce and prevent violence and to make people who commit domestic violence, take responsibility for their behaviour.

If you are worried for your safety, you can apply for a Domestic Violence Order (DVO). This is made by the Magistrates Court, or in some cases, the Police. The order is to try and protect the victim of domestic violence, their property and in some cases, their children, from domestic violence. The order sets out rules, or conditions that the defendant needs to obey. They are not allowed to come near you or to hurt you, under this order. You can find out more here about who can get Domestic Violence Orders and how to apply for them. You can also contact the Central Australian Women’s Legal Service, Central Australian Aboriginal Family Legal Unit, Legal Aid or North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency for advice.

Risk factors

There are a number of things that increase the risk of someone being violent towards you.

Some examples of this are:

  • they have hurt someone before

  • they have been aggressive or violent towards you in the past

  • they are known by you or others to behave in obsessive or controlling ways

  • they are socially isolated

  • they have mental health issues

  • they have drug or alcohol abuse issues

  • they are unemployed

  • they are having financial difficulties

  • they currently or previously have had a Domestic Violence Order (DVO) against them

  • they have been imprisoned

  • they have threatened suicide

  • they have access to a weapon or have used a weapon recently