What can Domestic violence look like?

Physical /Verbal Abuse

Emotional / Psychological

Physical /Verbal Abuse

Image of a young woman crying and sitting against a brick wall protecting her face from an adult male clenched fist

Direct assault on the body (choking, shaking, eye injuries, biting, slapping, pushing, spitting, burning, punching or kicking) ​

Use of weapons including objects ​

Assaulting the children/ pets​

Locking the victim in or out of the house or rooms ​

Forcing the victim to take drugs ​

Withholding medication, food or medical care 

Swearing and continual humiliation, in private or in public ​

Attacks on your intelligence, ability, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse

Financial Abuse

Emotional / Psychological

Physical /Verbal Abuse

Coins in 3 stacks, next to a keyboard with a plant and paper cutout of a home in the background. Depicting financial abuse

Forbidding or controlling access to bank accounts ​

Providing only a small ‘allowance’ ​

Not allowing the victim to have a job or jeopardising their current job​

Forcing the victim to sign documents or make financial decisions under pressure ​

Forcing the victim to spend their wages on the household expenses – so that there is no spare money left over for social / personal items​

Controlling the victim’s income ​

Denying the entitlements to property ​

Emotional / Psychological

Emotional / Psychological

Emotional / Psychological


Blaming the victim for the problems in the relationship ​

Constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine their​ self-esteem and self-worth​

Withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silent treatment) ​

Emotional blackmail and suicidal threats​

Making you feel like you are to blame for things that you had nothing to do with

Making you feel like you are going "crazy" - this is often referred to as "Gaslighting"

Stalking and intimidating you, or your family/friends,  text harassment, constant phone calls, showing up unannounced and threatening or intimidating you

Social Abuse / Isolation

Technology facilitated abuse

Emotional / Psychological

Silhouette of 8 women standing holding hands together up in the air depicting supporting one another

Isolation from family and friends such as ongoing rudeness to or about family and friends to alienate them, or limiting contact with family and friends ​

Instigating and controlling the move to a location where the victim has no established social circle or work opportunities ​

Restricting use of the car, telephone, internet or finances ​

Forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people ​

We are seeing an increase in  Social media abuse or technology abuse

Technology facilitated abuse

Technology facilitated abuse

Technology facilitated abuse

A laptop keyboard and part screen with ipads and iphones on top depicting Technology facilitated abuse

Technology-facilitated abuse is when someone harasses, threatens, monitors or impersonates another person continually using technology

This type of abuse can occur between strangers, but most often occurs alongside other types of abuse in domestic and family violence 

For more information on how to keep your self tech safe visit:


Sexual Abuse

Technology facilitated abuse

Technology facilitated abuse

A girl with her hand held up in front of her face with the words PLEASE STOP written on it. Depicting domestic violence

Any form of pressured/unwanted sex, regardless of you being in a relationship - 

Forced sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease ​

Making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking or distributing explicit photos without their consent) ​

Criticising or using sexually degrading insults 

Distributing or threatening to distribute explicit photos of you


Spiritual or Religious abuse

Spiritual or Religious abuse

A camera hidden in long grass to depict "Stalking and monitoring"

Stalking involves a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents. To control, intimidate and create fear in a person, a stalker may:

  • make repeated phone calls
  • send numerous text messages
  • loiter outside or near a person’s home or work
  • leave messages on social networking sites, such as Facebook
  • leave notes on a your car
  • leave flowers at a your residence
  • follow or continually stare at you -they are stalking
  • monitor your use of technology, including phone, email and other communications.


Stalking happens when a person intentionally and persistently pursues someone against their will. 

The stalker does this to control, intimidate and create fear in the person they are stalking. The person being stalked may feel like they are in danger.

Stalking limits a person’s freedom and makes them feel they have lost control over their lives. Some people who have been stalked are forced to change their lives, including by moving house and changing jobs.

Anyone can be a victim of stalking. 

Perpetrators include current or former partners, relatives and strangers. 

In Australia, stalking is a crime.

Spiritual or Religious abuse

Spiritual or Religious abuse

Spiritual or Religious abuse

Book spines with titles of different religions to depict the religious abuse

Spiritual abuse is the denial or use of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to control and dominate a person. 

Spiritual abuse can impact on a someone’s self-esteem and confidence, make them feel guilty, damage their spiritual experiences and isolate them. 

Forcing you to attend a church or have certain beliefs that are not in line with your own thoughts or beliefs.

Forcing you to act in accordance with their beliefs or against your beliefs, this can be in regard to:

  • contraception methods
  • the way you are allowed to dress
  • which schools your children attend 
  • social groups you are allowed to associate with


Preventing you from practising their religion

misusing spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to justify other types of abuse and violence

Accusing you of being too religious or not religious enough

Ridiculing your understanding of religious practices or beliefs.

Reproductive abuse

Spiritual or Religious abuse

Reproductive abuse

A woman full term pregnant holding a teddy in one hand and her belly with the other hand

Restricting or denying a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her body is an attempt to maintain power and control over a woman.  

Behaviour that has the intention of controlling a woman’s reproductive health decision-making is known as reproductive abuse.

Reproductive abuse generally falls into one of the below categories, though is not limited to:

  • Forcing or manipulating a woman into becoming pregnant or not giving her an option to have children
  • Prevent a woman from using contraception, or tampering with contraception
  • Forcing a woman to continue or terminate a pregnancy.


Reproductive abuse can occur in any of the following ways:

  • Destroying, hiding or sabotaging birth control pills or condoms
  • Controlling finances to restrict your access to birth control
  • Insisting on unprotected sex
  • Verbal pressure, threats or blackmail to influence reproductive choices
  • Pregnancy pressure- e.g a man accusing a woman of not wanting to be pregnant because she doesn’t love him or because she wants to continue alleged affairs
  • Pressuring a woman to continue a pregnancy
  • Pressuring a woman to end a pregnancy
  • Rape
  • Miscarriage as a result of physical assault

Planning to leave an abusive relationship

If you are planning on leaving an abusive relationship, it is important to consider your safety first. 

A safety plan can help you identify any risks and develop safety strategies.

The best way to make a safety plan is with a support service that can help you with your specific situation, wants and needs. Find help now in your local area.

Safety planning can also help women plan how to be safer when living with violence.

Post-separation violence is a form of abuse that is used by a perpetrator to keep their partner from leaving the relationship, or to continue to control their ex-partner once the relationship has ended.

The time of separation is especially dangerous for many women: perpetrators experience a loss of control and may try to regain it by escalating their violence

A woman planning on leaving a relationship, or who has left a relationship, may experience the following from her partner or ex-partner:

  • Stalking in person and online
  • Threats of violence and murder
  • Escalation of violence or abuse
  • Sexual assault
  • Threatening to harm or kill a woman’s child
  • Abuse of children or pets
  • Threats of self-harm from the perpetrator
  • An escalation in any form of violence her partner/ex-partner has previously used.

If you are in need of a safety plan, we recommend that you reach out to us at GLWS, or call 1800 RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service. 

They are free, 24/7, and completely confidential, and provide both phone and online counselling support.

A women blurred in background, hands in foreground with her holding her wedding ring  depicting marital abuse

A women blurred in background, hands in foreground with her holding her wedding ring  depicting marital abuse

What a healthy relationship might look like

The presence of equality in the relationship

The presence of equality in the relationship

The presence of equality in the relationship

Stones balancing on one another depicting balance in a healthy relationship

Relationships are made up of many components, and are considered unhealthy when the scales of balance are tipped unevenly  

The elements of a healthy relationship are applicable to all forms of relationships; with friends, dating  partners, intimate partners, life partners, or family members.   

Each  component  of  the relationship supports and reinforces the others, with equality always at the centre.   

Trust lies at the heart of a strong relationship and is the foundation that love and respect are built on.   

Support and encouragement of each other to achieve their goals and  dreams, and personal growth. 

 Respect other people’s boundaries.  Learn other people’s boundaries and do not infringe upon them. 

A shared responsibility for maintaining the relationship. 

Both people in a relationship should be included in making decisions. 

Effective communication involves clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings and listening to those of  others.  

Maintain healthy boundaries. 

Create a  safe and comfortable space to experience relationships by defining and communicating your boundaries  to others. 

Be open and honest. 

It is important for both people in a relationship to be honest about their intentions, feelings or desires.  

Be responsible for your own actions.

Talk to others to understand how your actions affect them.  

There is no place in a healthy relationship for controlling, abusive and violent behaviour.

Signs of a healthy relationship

The presence of equality in the relationship

The presence of equality in the relationship

2 hearts made from flower petals blending together in the middle to depict healthy relationships and equality

A healthy relationship brings more happiness than sadness or stress. You are not afraid of your partner or their reaction to something, you can talk openly about your feelings.

It is important to know that you should never feel unsafe in a relationship. A healthy relationship gives you the freedom to:

  • See family and friends
  • Go out without the other person
  • Control your own money
  • Make decisions about your body
  • Make decisions about your work, friends and where you live
  • Have your own hobbies and interests
  • Follow your own cultural practices, religion or spiritual beliefs

A healthy relationship is not abusive, meaning you:

  • Communicate with each other with respect
  • Are not scared to be honest about how you feel
  • Feel safe
  • Can say no to sex

A healthy relationship is respectful, meaning you:

  • Listen to each other’s opinions and feelings
  • Are able to celebrate achievements
  • Don't insult or abuse each other when arguing
  • Don't force each other to do things you don’t want to do
  • Don't control or manipulate each other


All relationships go through hard times. 

Having disagreements and feeling unhappy are things we all face at different stages. 

Sometimes it can be hard to know what is normal and what isn’t. It is important to know that you should never feel unsafe in a relationship.

Many of these things can be abusive and are not OK. 

If you think your relationship might be unhealthy or abusive it is important to know that support is available via 1800 respect and most of the services we refer to in this website. 


Charmed_and_Dangerous PDF (pdf)




Stepping stones Resource card (pdf)