15 April, 2021

Domestic and family violence comes in many forms. While every domestically violent relationship is based on power and control by the abuser, how this power and control is exerted can vary.

Many people picture physical hitting and visible bruises when they think of domestic violence. But it’s important to remember that not all domestic and family abuse is physical or easily identifiable, and all types of abuse are seriously dangerous and damaging to the survivor.

Some of the most common types of domestic violence include:

  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Technological abuse
  • Harassment or stalking.

Here are some examples of how these different types of domestic violence might look in an abusive relationship.


Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in a relationship often starts gradually, such as with pushing or grabbing, and then becomes progressively worse over time.

  • Hitting, punching, pushing, grabbing, kicking, shaking, biting, choking, or spitting on someone
  • Using weapons or objects to inflict pain (e.g. knives, belts, hot water, household objects)
  • Force-feeding
  • Withholding food, medicine, hand sanitiser and other necessary items


Sexual Abuse

It's important to remember that sexual abuse doesn't only include rape and touching; there are other nonphysical behaviours that are considered sexual abuse or harassment.

  • Touching or kissing someone without their consent
  • Forcing or pressuring someone to perform sexual acts or have sexual acts performed on them
  • Sexual assault using objects
  • Forcing someone to watch pornography
  • Filming someone involved in sexual acts without their consent
  • Criticising someone sexually
  • Using sex-related insults (e.g. “slut”)
  • Making unwanted sexual comments, suggestions, advances, or threats to another person
  • Forcing someone to undress or forcefully undressing them


Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Emotional and psychological abuse can be harder to spot than some other forms of abuse, but just as damaging to the victim.

  • Controlling what someone can do or say (e.g. how they dress)
  • Controlling who someone can and can’t speak to or see
  • Insulting or belittling someone
  • Using disrespectful language (e.g. swearing)
  • Being overly jealous and possessive
  • Constantly accusing someone of cheating
  • Yelling at someone
  • Treating someone like a servant
  • Comparing someone to others to damage their self-esteem
  • Blaming someone for all the problems in a relationship
  • Leaving nasty messages (e.g. texts, voicemail, Facebook)
  • Constantly criticising and correcting someone
  • Not allowing someone to voice their opinion
  • Not listening to someone’s needs
  • Threatening to harm someone, their children, property, or pet

Coercive control sits under this category, where manipulation and intimidation are used to create fear and dependency in a person.


Financial Abuse

Financial abuse often happens alongside other types of domestic violence, such as physical or emotional abuse.

  • Controlling how someone can spend their money
  • Stopping someone from accessing money or benefits
  • Demanding money from someone or taking their belongings
  • Forbidding someone from working or studying
  • Limiting the amount of petrol in the car


Technological Abuse

In this day and age, technological abuse is getting more common.

  • Using a phone or other technology to control or embarrass someone
  • Monitoring someone’s communication without them knowing
  • Controlling someone’s use of technology (e.g. isolating them from friends/family)


Harassment or Stalking

Whether in a relationship or not, these behaviours are considered harassment or stalking and are forms of domestic abuse.

  • Demanding to know where someone is and who they’re with at all times
  • Watching, following or monitoring someone
  • Monitoring someone’s personal information (e.g. texts, social media, emails, phone bills)
  • Harassing someone via internet or phone (e.g. constant calls, texts, emails)
  • Tracking someone via GPS devices and spyware


These are just some of the types of domestic violence. If something doesn’t feel right and you don’t feel safe in your relationship, it could be abuse.

If you or someone you know is living with domestic and family violence, help is available. You can call us on 1300 364 277 for guidance finding the right support for you, or learn about our Domestic and Family Violence Prevention service here.

We explore the effects of domestic violence in this blog post.


Other Support Services

1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732

DVConnect Womensline: 1800 811 811

DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636

Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 010 120

Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800

Lifeline: 13 11 14

If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 000.