What is family violence?

Family violence is behaviour of a family member that makes you fearful, makes you do things you don’t want to, or is used to control you.

If you are in immediate danger, call 000. For non-emergency help from the police, call 131 444.

Quick Answers Video: What is family violence?
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What is family violence? 

Family violence is:

  • violence, or a threat of violence, by someone towards a family member, or
  • any other behaviour that coerces or controls another family member, or causes them to be fearful.

What are some examples of family violence?

Family violence is not just physical violence or threats of violence. It can include forms of financial, emotional and psychological abuse.

Some examples of behaviour that is family violence include:

  • assaults – being hit, kicked, pushed, spat on
  • sexual assault
  • stalking
  • repeated insults or critical comments
  • damaging or destroying property
  • killing or injuring an animal belonging to a family member
  • controlling finances or being unreasonable about providing money needed to meet reasonable living expenses
  • keeping a family member away from their family, friends or culture
  • depriving someone of their freedom
  • pressure, threats or abuse in connection with demanding or receiving dowry
  • sharing or threatening to share intimate personal pictures or videos. 

When are children exposed to family violence?

Children can suffer serious psychological harm from being exposed to family violence.

A child is exposed to family violence if they see, hear or experience the effects of family violence, such as:

  • overhearing threats of violence
  • seeing or hearing an assault of a family member
  • comforting or helping a family member who has been assaulted
  • cleaning up a place after an assault or property damage, or
  • being there when police or ambulance officers come after there has been family violence.

How can Legal Aid WA help?

You can find information about Legal Aid WA services who specialise in family violence on our webpage, Get help with family violence and your safety.

More information


Reviewed: 29 March 2023


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.