What is the definition of ‘violence against women’ ?

Wollumbin Family Support uses the definition of men’s violence against women found in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women: ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.’

The impact of this violence on women can be physical, sexual and psychological. Violence against women can also result in death: women die from the negative health effects of violence and some are killed.

Violence against women affects women’s well-being and prevents them from fully participating in society. It also impacts on families, the community and the nation.

Controlling behaviour in relationships

Controlling behaviour happens over time. It is a pattern of behaviour that a person uses to have power over another person and to control them. It is a violation of trust. Controlling behaviour is not always obvious and can be a sign of an abusive relationship.

Signs of controlling behaviour

In the context of men’s violence against women, controlling behaviour includes:

  • isolating a woman from her family and friends
  • going through a woman’s text messages, emails and social media
  • telling a woman what she can wear, where she can go and who she spends time with
  • controlling how much money a woman has
  • continuous criticism
  • threats to hurt or kill
  • threatening to publish private information
  • rape
  • emotional blackmail, for example “If you loved me, you would …”
  • ignoring or refusing to talk.
The Power and Control Wheel

Power and control are at the centre of physically and sexually abusive relationships. The Power and Control Wheel demonstrates this. It shows the various tactics an abusive partner uses to maintain power and control in a relationship.



What is Family Violence?
Types of Abuse:

Financial definition
Financial Abuse occurs when the abuser takes control over your financial resources. This may include not allowing you to work or controlling the money you earn or spend.

Physical definition
Physical Abuse includes physical harm to you, your children, your property, family, friends and pets. It may also involve the threat of weapons.

Emotional definition
Emotional/Psychological Abuse includes behaviour/actions & comments to undermine your sense of self and destroy your self-confidence/worth.

Verbal definition
Verbal Abuse includes constant putdowns, insults and verbal threats. Verbal abuse is a humiliating experience and over time can destroy your self-esteem and self-belief.

Social definition
Social Abuse is when the abuser criticises, jokes about or puts you down in front of family, friends, work friends etc and / or controls where you go and who you see.

Sexual definition
Sexual Abuse includes any forced or unwarranted sexual interaction. This may include: forced sexual acts, harassment, or sexual harm.

Spiritual definition
Spiritual Abuse includes ridiculing your spiritual beliefs and / or excluding you from taking part in cultural or spiritual activities.

Fear can be the most powerful means of control. Fear can be created through any behaviour which is used to intimidate you and which takes away your power.

Intimidation includes breaking your possessions, intimidating body language, hostile and aggressive questioning, constant calls, emails, text messages and stalking.

Image based definition
Image-based abuse is when someone shares, or threatens to share, intimate images without the consent of the person in the photo.

Stalking definition
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.

Technology-facilitated abuse
Technology-facilitated abuse can take many form such as:

  • abusive messages or call
  • account take overs – where someone accesses your online accounts and locks you out of them
  • image-based abuse – when someone shares or threatens to share an intimate image of you without your consent
  • fake social media accounts – when fake accounts are being used to harass you or post negative comments about you online
  • being tracked through a phone or device – when tracking techniques or spyware are used to see where you are.

If you are experiencing technology-facilitied abuse as part of domestic or family violence, it can be very distressing.

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Lifeline’s domestic violence tool kit provides information about:

  • Understanding what domestic violence is
  • Developing some strategies for what to do if in a violent or abusive relationship
  • Understanding what friends and family can do
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Family Court of Australia, Family Law Act, The Family Law Act contains a range of provisions designed to protect parties and children from family violence.

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