Types of domestic and family violence
Domestic violence may include one or any number of the following types of abuse. Click on a heading to be taken straight to the appropiate section.
Physical abuse includes anything that could physically hurt you, including hitting, throwing, slapping, biting, kicking, hair pulling, strangulation, the infliction of fractures or burns and the use of weapons. Injuries are often inflicted on areas of the body where they cannot be seen or proven. Physical violence often increases during a pregnancy when women are punched in the stomach in an attempt to hurt the unborn child.
Physical abuse tends to get worse over time, with attacks becoming more frequent and more savage.
The crime of sexual assault includes any sexual act to which the woman does not freely give consent. This may include being forced to do or watch something sexual, being forced to perform humiliating sexual acts, having pain inflicted on them during sex or being forced to view pornography.
It may also include a woman being forced to have sex with her partner's friends or being videoed during sexual intercourse or sexual acts which she has been forced to carry out.
Some women are forced to have sex whilst or after they are beaten.
Psychological and emotional abuse undermine a woman’s sense of self and reality, creating fear, uncertainty, self-doubt, anxiety and confusion.
It also incorporates many forms including verbal put downs or insults, criticisms, being humiliated and embarrassed or being told repeatedly that you are not good enough (for example, that no one else would have you)
Many women state that the emotional and psychological abuse can be actually worse than the physical. The emotional abuse is part of the cycle of domestic violence used to undermine your self-confidence so the perpetrator can control you, the family and the environment in which you live.
The perpetrator of domestic violence controls what his partner does, who she sees and who she talks to. He may also control what she reads and where she goes, limiting her outside involvement and using jealousy to justify his actions. He may also undermine her beliefs about other people as he does not want them to influence her and see the real picture of what he is doing.
He may monitor her phone, set up a tracking system on her phone allowing him to know where she is at all times or attach a tracker to her car. He may also check her emails and other electronic devices.
For women living in rural and isolated areas, geographical isolation and the lack of public transport leave them highly vulnerable to social abuse and isolation, particularly if the violent partner constantly monitors the car, checks the odometer and the petrol gauge, or leaves her without a vehicle.
The perpetrator may assume control over the couple's finances. Financial abuse may entail forbidding a woman from working or insisting that she hand over her entire wages, instead giving her a tiny allowance from which she must buy groceries, pay costs associated with the household, children and school. He may also force her to take sole responsibility for debt, he or she has accumulated.
Common threats may include "If you leave, you will get nothing, you won't be able to support yourself or the children". The woman may also fear leaving as she has no income and is not aware of the government assistance entitled to her in domestic violence situations.
Some perpetrators of domestic violence harass their partners with constant telephone calls or threatening letters/emails. Some stalk their partners, following them wherever they go.
Such behaviour can occur both during a relationship or once it has ended and can sometimes include the children.
Cyberstalking is similar to traditional forms of stalking in that it includes persistent behaviours that instil apprehension and fear. Cyberstalking includes checking correspondence on mobile phones, internet (including sites like Facebook) and email.
The perpetrator may insist on controlling everything she does, insisting demands are met otherwise she will be punished. Some examples that victims have stated are:
- He would insist that all the cups had to be stacked, handles to the left and would check for dust with white gloves.
- If I didn’t have the food on the table by 6pm or he did not like it, he would throw the plate against the wall, verbally abuse me which then led to physical abuse.
- He would treat me like a servant saying that was my role as the woman, as he was the master of the house.
- He would choose what clothes I was to wear each day, what food I was to eat and what I was allowed to say and do.
Often one form of abuse can lead to another or can be entangled with one or more forms of abuse. If you feel like you are – or someone you know is – experiencing anything detailed on this page, it's important to get help.
Call Jenny's Place on (02) 4929 6289 to find out more or to book an appointment to speak to a specialist. You can also e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.