What is “Family Violence”?

Unfortunately, many family law matters involve the perpetration of domestic and family violence. If you or a child is in immediate danger, call emergency police on 000.

What is “Family Violence”?

The law1 defines “family violence” as violent, threatening or frightening behaviour exhibited by one family member towards another. A family member includes (but is not limited to) a spouse, a parent or a child.

Below are some examples of “family violence”, however this is not an exhaustive list:

  • physical assault;
  • sexual assault or sexually abusive behaviour;
  • stalking;
  • repeated derogatory taunts, comments or name-calling;
  • intentionally damaging or destroying property;
  • intentionally causing death or injury to an animal;
  • controlling another family member’s money or finances;
  • unreasonably withholding financial support needed to meet the living expenses of a family member or child when entirely dependent on that financial support;
  • interfering with or stopping a family member from making and/or keeping connections with their friends, family and culture; and
  • unlawfully depriving a family member, or a person connected to a family member, of his or her liberty.2

If a child sees or hears any kind of behaviour as listed above, even if that behaviour is not aimed towards them, they will be considered to have been exposed to family violence. 3 This also includes a child providing comfort or assistance to a person who has been assaulted by a family member, cleaning up after a family member has intentionally damaged property or being present when police or ambulance officers attend an incident involving an assault on a member of the child’s family.

Anyone can be a victim or perpetrator of family violence and the law does not differentiate between age, gender, sexuality or culture.

Australian law, and the Family Court of Western Australia, consider family violence to be unacceptable in any form. For more on the Family Court of Western Australia’s “Family Violence Policy”, click here. The Court employs specific policy, procedures and security measures to ensure your safety when at Court.

For more information on Family Violence, visit:

1 Family Law Act 1975 (Cth), s 4AB(1)

2 Ibid, s4AB(2)

3 Ibid, s4AB(3)&(4)

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