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Family Violence

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Family violence is also sometimes called domestic violence. It is any type of violence or abuse within a relationship.

While anyone can be a victim of family violence, usually the violence is perpetrated by a man against women and children.

Family violence may include physical violence, verbal or emotional abuse, controlling or threatening behaviour, sexual or financial abuse.

It is child abuse for a child to suffer any of these types of abuse.

Witnessing family violence - for example between parents - is also damaging. This might include being present and hearing or seeing family violence, or experiencing the aftermath of violence including injuries or property damage inflicted.

All children, including newborn babies, can be very frightened by seeing their caregivers inflict or suffer violence. Seeing and hearing scary behaviour such as yelling or screaming can be very traumatising for a child.

Witnessing family violence can cause a child to suffer long-term impacts.

Family violence threatens a child’s sense of safety and changes the way their brain develops. This can lead to emotional and behavioural problems, as well as developmental delays as they grow. 

Family violence

Get to know the signs of family violence

Symptoms of children witnessing family violence can include:

  • symptoms of physical abuse
  • problems communicating
  • regressing developmentally
  • learning problems
  • difficulty managing their emotions
  • being bullied or bullying others
  • increased antisocial behaviour including acting aggressively or destructively
  • increasingly anxious or scared
  • hurting or inflicting cruelty on animals or other children
  • sleeping problems, including nightmares and bedwetting


Family violence


What you should do about it


If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, there are services which can provide help and support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more >


If you’re a child and you want to talk to someone

Call Kids Helpline at any time:

Call 1800 55 1800

If you think a child is in immediate danger

Contact Police as soon as possible:

Call Triple Zero (000)

Getting help


It is important that you seek out help if you are worried about yourself, a friend or another family member.