It is often assumed that domestic violence can only be in the form of “physical abuse”. This is simply not true as abuse can take a variety of forms. Many people are unaware of the various forms, which leads to the question what constitutes domestic violence? In discussing ‘what constitutes domestic violence’ we will look at the different types of abuse which fall under domestic violence.
According to Section 4AB of the Family Law Act (1975), the definition of family violence is as follows:
When asking the question ‘what constitutes domestic violence’ it is also essential for you to understand that domestic and family violence are synonymous, and are often used interchangeably.
This is a very serious concern, especially in Australian society where the statistics on domestic violence truly paint a horrific picture. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in the year 2020-2021, the number of victims of family violence and domestic violence related sexual assaults increased by 13 percent.
Apart from this, nearly one in every six women in Australia have experienced family or domestic violence, and one in sixteen men have experienced family or domestic violence.
This article aims to discuss the topic of ‘what constitutes domestic violence’ by elaborating on the different types of family violence, and also certain avenues that domestic violence victims can use to ensure their safety and protection.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence: Types Of Abuses
As mentioned above, many often downplay the seriousness of “mental” or “emotional” abuse because, historically, it has never come in the spotlight and was considered to be “wrong.” Whereas, physical abuse is often considered to be the only form of family or domestic violence.
In current times, with the growing awareness of mental health of people, mental abuse has started to be recognised as a form of domestic violence. In knowing what constitutes domestic violence please be aware that there are a range of abuses that can fall under family or domestic violence. These include:
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Financial abuse
- Harassment and stalking
- Sexual abuse
- Reproductive abuse
- Religious abuse or spiritual abuse
- Image-based abuse
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is a severe from of domestic violence, and it can include the following:
- assault on the body by slapping, pushing, punching, kicking – and a number of other forms of harm on the body with the intent to cause pain
- using objects to hit, or in extremely severe cases the use of weapons to harm
- locking the victim in the house, or outside the house and not permitting entry
- hurting the children where children are involved
- preventing the victim from taking proper food, or medication or medical care
- preventing the victim from sleeping, and eating
- forcing the victim to consume drugs
2. Verbal Abuse
- swearing, name-calling and harassing continuously both in private and public spaces
- screaming, shouting and putting the person down by insulting them
- attacks on intelligence, and capacity as a partner or parent
- ridiculing the victim’s beliefs – be it religious or otherwise
3. Psychological Abuse
- creating fear in the mind of the victim by driving recklessly, or giving angry looks
- making threats regarding custody of children
- destroying property or other valued possession
4. Emotional Abuse
- undermining the victim’s self-esteem by comparing them to others constantly
- emotional blackmail
- blaming the victim for all the issues in the relationship and undermining their self-worth
5. Financial Abuse
- preventing the victim from getting a job
- providing only a small allowance to the victim
- forbidding access to bank accounts, and controlling the victim’s money
- using up all wages of the victim
6. Harassment and Stalking
- following the victim and continuously watching them
- intimidating the victim
- using GPS to stalk the victim
- using telephone and online means to harass the victim
7. Sexual Abuse
- pressuring the victim to have intercourse, or causing pain during intercourse
- criticising the victim by using sexually degrading abuses
- assaulting the victim’s private parts
8. Reproductive Abuse
- forcing the victim to get pregnant or get an abortion
- limiting victim’s access to sexual health services and/or information
- making forceful decisions about birth control like throwing them away or preventing the victim from buying them
9. Religious or Spiritual Abuse
- using spiritual beliefs to scare the victim, and/or hurt or control them
- forcing the victim to follow beliefs you don’t agree with, or forcing them to raise their children according to those beliefs
- not respecting the victim’s personal beliefs and instead shaming the victim for following those beliefs
10. Image-based Abuse
- threatening to share nude photos or videos on social media sites
- accessing computer files to steal images
- taking and sharing images of the victim without their permission
Legal Approaches To Take In Family Or Domestic Violence Cases
Having looked at the various types of abuse, you might have a better idea on what constitutes domestic violence.
However, if you or someone you know has experienced family violence, it is also important for you to be aware about the steps you can take to ensure your protection in the future.
One of the significant avenues is applying for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO). In cases where the victim is in need of immediate protection, they can contact the police who can make a provisional order against the defendant until the court procedures are finalised.
Domestic Violence Liaison Officers (DVLOs) are trained police offers who deal with domestic or family violence cases. For NSW residents who wish to get in touch with DVLOs, contact your local police station.
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
This article has provided an overview of what constitutes domestic violence by providing a brief explanation on the types of abuses which fall under domestic or family violence.
In dealing with ADVOs, many people make personal applications by visiting the court. While doing so, it is important to seek legal representation from experienced family lawyers .
At JB Solicitors, our family law team are dedicated to working for the community in every way possible. We understand how serious the issue of domestic violence is, and we are determined to use our legal expertise to help all domestic violence victims to get justice.
Contact our compassionate team of legal specialists today to gain information on what constitutes domestic violence, or to seek our advice on other related matters.