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New to Family Violence

Understanding Family Violence

Family violence – also known as domestic violence or abuse – is any abusive behaviour that is used to control someone in a family, family-like or intimate relationship, and makes that person afraid for their safety and well-being or the safety of another person. If a child witnesses abusive behaviour or is exposed to the impacts of this, they are a victim of family violence in their own right.


For information on understanding what Family Violence is, the impacts it has, the different forms it takes, and more, go to Safe+Equal’s web page on Understanding Family ViolenceThe Judicial College of Victoria also has further information on power and control, and coercive control on their page Understanding Family Violence

To identify Family Violence, go to Safe+Equal’s web page on Identifying, assessing and managing Risk

You can also refer to the legal definition of Family Violence as per the Family Violence Protection Act (2008) Section 5

  • Family Violence is also called “domestic violence”, “domestic abuse” or “intimate partner violence” though they are actually different types of Family Violence and not necessarily synonymous
  • Family Violence s a pattern of behaviour in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner
  • Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person
  • Family Violence includes any behaviours that frighten, intimidate, terrorise, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone
  • Family Violence can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating
  • Family Violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels
  • Anyone can be a victim of family violence, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith or class
  • Victims of family abuse may also include a child or other relative, or any other household member
  • Incidents are rarely isolated, and usually escalate in frequency and severity
  • Family Violence may culminate in serious physical injury or death

Safe+Equal is the peak body in Victoria for specialist family violence services supporting victim survivors.

Safe Steps is Victoria’s 24/7 family violence response centre, providing specialist support services for anyone in Victoria who is experiencing or afraid of family violence.

No to Violence works with men who use family violence, and the sector that supports them to change their abusive and violent behaviour.

As a practitioner, find out what you need to know about identifying, assessing and managing family violence risk within Victoria’s Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management (MARAM) Framework

Check with your organisation to see whether they are prescribed under MARAM and, if so, what your responsibilities are. You can read more about the MARAM on our website

Everyone working in the service system, regardless of their role, needs to have a shared understanding of family violence and the behaviour of an adult who uses Family Violence, including its drivers, presentation, prevalence and impacts. This enables a consistent approach to risk assessment and management across the service system and helps keep adults who uses Family Violence in view and accountable and victim survivors safe.

MARAM Pillar 1: Shared understanding of family violence

Preventing and responding to family violence is the collective responsibility of a wide variety of professionals. Family Violence Foundations is a key starting point for everyone who has a role to play. Safe+Equal’s free online learning package will provide you with foundational knowledge about preventing and responding to family violence and violence against women.

Access the free training here

Family violence is a community issue. We can all keep an eye out for the signs, speak up, and offer our support. With the right approach, your support can make a real difference. Safe+Equal’s new Are You Safe at Home? video series aims to raise awareness of family violence and build the skills and confidence of family, friends, and colleagues to respond.

Help raise awareness across our community by watching and sharing the videos here. The videos are available in 15 community languages. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse, visit areyousafeathome.org.au for information about the signs to look out for and ways to access support.

Guide to uplifting workplace responses to domestic, family and sexualised violence from Insight Exchange

If you or someone you know needs help, there is a wide range of family violence support services available. If someone is in immediate danger, call triple zero (000) and ask for police.

Safe Steps – Victoria’s 24/7 family violence response centre for confidential crisis support, information and accommodation. Phone: 1800 015 188 or email: [email protected]

Sexual Assault Crisis Line – Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced both past and recent sexual assault. Phone: 1800 806 292 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Are you Safe at Home – Understanding family violence and supports available

Men’s Referral Service – Free, confidential expert support for people at risk of using family violence. Phone: 1300 766 491 (8am to 9pm, Monday to Friday and 9am to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday)

Victims of Crime Helpline – Information and support for adult male victims of family violence and victims of violent crime. Phone: 1800 819 817 or text 0427 767 891 (8am to 11pm every day)

Kids Helpline – Private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. Phone: 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Rainbow Door – Free specialist advice to LGBTIQ+ people and their friends and families. Phone: 1800 729 367 or text 0480 017 246 (10am to 5pm, 7 days a week) or email: [email protected]

InTouch – Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence – Free and confidential support services for migrant and refugee women. Phone: 1800 755 988 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Seniors Rights Victoria. Phone: 1300 368 821 (10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

MensLine Australia – Telephone and online counselling service for men with emotional health and relationship concerns. Phone: 1300 78 99 78 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) – Statewide support service for Aboriginal children and families. Phone: (03) 9287 8800 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Djirra – Telephone counselling service for Aboriginal people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence. Phone: 1800 105 303 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday)

Yarning SafeNStrong – Telephone crisis line for Aboriginal people who need to have a yarn with someone about their wellbeing. Phone: 1800 959 563 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

The Orange Door – A free service for adults, children and young people who are experiencing or have experienced family violence and families who need extra support with the care, wellbeing and development of children.

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