What is family violence?

Family violence includes any actions where a family member threatens, intimidates, controls, stalks or harms another person within a family relationship or household.

Family violence is against the law. Times of stress, hardship and uncertainty, such as during the current coronavirus pandemic, are never an excuse. 

Call Triple Zero (000) for emergency assistance - when someone has been, or is about to be, injured, property damaged or for other criminal acts that need a response immediately.

You can find information in community languages about the issue, how to keep safe and access support on Council's Family Violence resources page and contact details for support services for those that need help

Or read on to learn more about what family violence is.

Worried about how you or someone you know is being treated?

The Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria has created extensive advice pages, including a short quiz and information about potential signs of abuse to be aware of, if:

Victorian community support services have created many resources for sharing to raise awareness in local communities and encourage those that need support to seek help, in particular for those who may experience increased barriers.   

Family violence is against the law

The Victorian Family Violence Protection Act 2008 defines family violence as any behaviour towards another family member that is:

  • physically or sexual abusive
  • emotionally or psychologically abusive
  • economically abusive
  • threating or coercive or in any way controls or dominates the family member causing them to fear for their safety or wellbeing of another family members
  • causes a child to hear or witness or otherwise be exposed to the effects of above behaviours.

Threatening to hurt pets or animals, whether or not the animal belongs to the family member, is also considered abuse.

Family violence can happen in all kinds of relationships

Family violence can happen in all kinds of relationships, including:

  • Intimate relationships (involving partners, lovers, husband and wife, ex-partners)
  • Older people and their carers or children (elder abuse)
  • Parents and their teenage or adult children (adolescent family violence)
  • People with disabilities and their carers.

Although domestic and family violence can happen to anyone, the evidence shows that in the majority of cases in Victoria these types of violence are perpetrated by men against women.


Merri-bek Family Violence Data Report 2019 (PDF 133Kb)