What is Family / Domestic Violence?

No person has the right to threaten or physically assault another. Violence can take many forms and is not only physical violence.

Domestic/family violence takes different forms and is also commonly known as:

  • Family violence
  • Relationship violence
  • Intimate partner violence or abuse
  • Child abuse

It may consist of isolated incidents or patterns of behaviours over time that aim to control a partner or former partner through violence, coercion, threats, or control.

Domestic/family violence often gradually undermines the victim’s confidence and the severity and frequency of violence often escalates over time.

This violence takes many forms, none of which is mutually exclusive. While physical violence may be the most visible form, others such as sexual, verbal, emotional, social, spiritual, cyber/technology based and economic abuse can be equally harmful. Domestic/family violence also includes the threatening of abuse, or any other behaviours that cause the partner or former partner to feel fear for their safety, the safety of another person or an animal. In relation to children, family violence is defined as behaviour by any person that causes a child to hear or witness or otherwise be exposed to the effects of the above behaviour.

Examples of this abuse include:

  • Isolating a victim from family and friends
  • Destroying or damaging their property/belongings
  • Controlling their access to money
  • Diminishing their self-esteem
  • Pushing them to have sex when they don’t want to
  • Preventing them from practising their religious beliefs
  • Intimidating them
  • Threatening to harm them, their children, other people or animals/pets
  • Physically assaulting them. 


Domestic/family violence is common in Australia. It is complex, and different from other forms of interpersonal violence.

(From: The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria, Australia)

Yemaya’s core focus is to support all women who have experienced intimate partner abuse, and so for our purposes, we define family violence as any violent, threatening, coercive or controlling behaviour that occurs in intimate relationships. At Yemaya, we define domestic/family violence or intimate partner violence as the abuse of power by one person over another which occurs in ANY of the following ways:

  • Verbal
  • Physical 
  • Psychological
  • Economic
  • Social abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Spiritual or religious
  • Harassment & stalking
  • Cyber & image-based


The great majority of domestic/family violence survivors are women. Yemaya Women’s Support Service is for women only.

We believe:

  • A woman’s view of her past, present and future
  • Domestic/family violence is a crime
  • Domestic/family violence is an abuse of power
  • Domestic/family violence is an issue for the whole community, it is a matter of public concern and action
  • Violence is always unacceptable and is never justified
  • Women and children have a right to be safe

Domestic/family violence or abuse is a reflection of the inequalities in society. Domestic/family violence does not happen because of poor impulses or anger control

“The scars from mental cruelty can be as deep and long-lasting as wounds from punches or slaps but are often not as obvious. In fact, even among women who have experienced violence from a partner, half or more report that the man’s emotional abuse is what is causing them the greatest harm.”