What women ask us

  • + - What is Domestic and Family Violence (DFV)?

    Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship.

    While there is no single definition, the central element of domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of behaviour aimed at controlling a partner through fear, for example by using behaviour which is violent and threatening. In most cases, the violent behaviour is part of a range of tactics to exercise power and control over women and their children, and can be both criminal, and non-criminal. Domestic violence includes, but is not limited to physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse.

    Family violence is a broader term that refers to violence between family members, as well as violence between intimate partners. The term family violence is the most widely used term to identify the experiences of Indigenous people, because it includes the broad range of marital and kinship relationships in which violence may occur. (The National Plan, COAG, 2009a)

    View the Myths and Facts about DV factsheet.

    People can experience domestic and family violence in their relationships with other family members. Older people or people with a disability may experience domestic and family violence from an unpaid carer such as a family member, friend or neighbour.

    Domestic violence in LGBTQI+ relationships share many similarities with other types of intimate partner relationships, however, there are unique factors such as ‘outing’ or the threat of ‘outing’ as a form of control and abuse associated with a person’s gender or sexuality. Abuse in LGBTQI+ relationships is underreported and research shows there is a lack of understanding about domestic and family violence in LGBTQI+ relationships. View 'Queer without Fear – LGBTI Domestic and Family violence and its Impacts'.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - What is the vision for a healthy relationship?

    Healthy relationships are easily understood by referring to the equality wheel because a healthy relationship is built on equality.

    In a relationship, there should be respect, trust and support, honesty and accountability, responsible parenting, shared responsibility, economic partnership, negotiation and fairness and non-threatening behaviour.

    Toxic masculinity

    Toxic masculinity refers to cultural norms and expectations of masculinity which shape boys and men’s lives including how to think and behave, such as being tough or dominant, self-reliant and suppressing emotions, or not liking things that are seen as ‘feminine’.

    Toxic masculinity is harmful to men and all people, and is linked to increases in suicide in men, and violence and aggression towards others.

    If you feel your relationship may not be a healthy one, this is something you can explore confidentially by browsing through our website or by contacting us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - I don’t feel safe in my home, where can I go?

    We believe all women should live free from abuse.

    If you’ve been wondering if what you’ve been experiencing in your relationship is abusive behaviour you can check out the power and control wheel or our tactics of abuse webpage which you may find helpful.

    If you’re thinking about leaving, you don’t have to do it alone.

    DVConnect helps Queenslanders experiencing domestic and family violence with transport, safe accommodation and more.

    You can call DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 for safe accommodation or we can do this on your behalf if you contact us.

    In cases where accommodation cannot be arranged via DVConnect, Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS) can work with you to keep you safe and find alternate accommodation. There are always options available to get you to safety.

    You can contact us anytime. We answer our phone 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

  • + - What are the different tactics of abuse?

    Physical abuse is the use of force against another person. Physical abuse includes pushing, hitting, punching, choking, physically holding a person down, twisting limbs, throwing objects, using weapons, destroying or damaging property, and/or disposing of a person’s belongings without their consent.

    It can be actual or attempted with the intent to injure, control or instil fear.

    Multiple types of abuses often occur in relationships with domestic violence. Please note, this is not a definitive list of all the abuses a person may experience in an abusive relationship.

    View the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research factsheet for women.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Emotional abuse is making a person feel scared, intimidated, insane, stupid or worthless. Examples include threats to harm, kill or abduct, threats to harm children, threats with weapons, criticism, hurting or killing pets (also animal abuse), denying or minimising abuse and placing blame on the person experiencing abuse.

    Verbal abuse is a key feature of emotionally abusive relationships.

    Withholding important information or not including a person in important decision-making are also forms of emotional abuse.

    Zoe wrote about her experience in 2014 of living with domestic violence. (Trigger warning - descriptions of violence are included.) Read Zoe's story.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Psychological abuse or 'gaslighting' is a form of psychological manipulation to make a person question their memory, sanity, perception or judgement.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Sexual abuse includes any forced or unwanted sexual activity. Sexual abuse can include rape, unwanted kissing or touching and forcing someone to do something they do not want to do, including watching pornography.

    Revenge porn, where a person’s sexually explicit images are shared without consent, is also sexual abuse.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Adolescent family violence can take the form of any of the abuses outlined on this page but most commonly include financial abuse, coercion, physical, sexual or psychological abuse.

    Mothers are disproportionately affected by adolescent family violence, usually perpetrated by their male child. Adolescent family violence also includes sibling violence and adolescent violence against other relatives.

    View the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research adolescent-to-parent abuse factsheet.

    If you have been experiencing abuse from your child, contact our Safer Families Initiative for non-judgemental and confidential advice and support.

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    Tech abuse is the monitoring or stalking of a person through devices such as phones, cameras, spyware and tracking technology. Tech abuse also includes accessing the phones or devices of someone without their consent.

    Women’s Technology Safety and Privacy Toolkit The Women’s Technology Safety and Privacy Toolkit, created by the Safety Net Australia Project at WESNET, is for women experiencing tech abuse to learn how they can increase their technology safety and privacy.

    This toolkit includes resource guides ranging from online privacy and safety tips to smartphone privacy and location safety information, and much more.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Financial abuse is controlling someone’s money or denying them access to funds. Financial abuse also includes interfering with a person’s employment, denying a person input on financial decisions, making a person ask for money for basic items such as food, petrol and clothing, and forcing them to provide receipts to account for spending.

    Dowry abuse
    Dowry abuse is any act of coercion, abuse or harassment associated with the giving or receiving of dowry. Dowry abuse can include claiming a dowry was not paid or coercive demands for more material items from a partner or a partner’s family.

    View Australian Government factsheet. The use of dowry in itself is not abuse.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Coercive control usually occurs as a pattern of abuse where a person is isolated from their support network, restricted from doing things freely and without consequence, put down, and made to live in fear due to constant threats or intimidation.

    Coercive control may include being monitored constantly, deprived of basic necessities such as money, and restricted in movement and the people they can contact. Coercive control may be subtle and non-violent but is an extreme form of control impacting a person’s everyday life. In the UK, coercive control is a criminal offence.

    Women’s Aid (in the UK) provides some common examples of coercive control:

    • Isolating you from friends and family
    • Depriving you of basic needs, such as food
    • Monitoring your time
    • Monitoring you via online communication tools or spyware
    • Taking control over aspects of your everyday life, such as where you can go, who you can see, what you can wear and when you can sleep
    • Depriving you access to support services, such as medical services
    • Repeatedly putting you down, such as saying you’re worthless
    • Humiliating, degrading or dehumanising you
    • Controlling your finances
    • Making threats or intimidating you.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Social abuse is any form of behaviour that isolates a person from their social network including, friends, family and colleagues.

    Examples include criticising friends and family, preventing use of the family car, physically isolating a person by moving away and demanding to know where a person is at any given time.

    View the Queensland Centre for Domestic and Family Violence Research factsheet for women.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Reproductive abuse is when a person exercises control over their partner’s reproductive health. This can include use or non-use of contraception or coercing a person into an unwanted pregnancy or termination.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Systemic abuse is the use of power and control via the ‘system’. Systemic abuse can include taking a DVO out against a current or former partner who has not perpetrated violence or causing a person to go into debt through the court process.

    The intention of systemic abuse can be to interrupt, prolong or defer judicial or administrative processes to drain a person mentally, financially or impact on their ability to work or care for their children.

    If you are experiencing systemic abuse from a current or former partner, we are here to help. Contact us for confidential advice and support.

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    Cultural or spiritual abuse is often used to undermine a person’s self-identity by criticising their beliefs, quoting religious texts to justify abusive behaviour, denying freedom to speak their native tongue or practice their own culture.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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    Pet abuse is a type of abuse that can occur in situations of domestic and family violence. A perpetrator may intimidate their partner or children by threatening to harm or harming the family pet/s as a form of coercive control.

    Research supports that people who harm animals are more likely to be violent toward humans.

    Surveys show that people remain in abusive relationships because they fear for their pet’s safety and do not want to leave their pet/s behind.

    DVConnect's Pets in Crisis program can provide safe accommodation, food and vet care to pets whose families have escaped domestic and family violence. Visit DVConnect for more information or call DVConnect on 1800 811 811 if you have concerns for your pet’s safety.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

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  • + - What is a DVO and how do I get one?

    A Domestic Violence Order (DVO) helps to protect you, your children and other people named on the order from someone who is violent to you. A DVO will include conditions to stop the respondent from behaving in a way that makes you feel unsafe.

    Please refer to Legal Aid Queensland's guide on Domestic Violence Orders for information on what a DVO is, how to apply for one, what happens at court and more.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - What are Domestic Violence shelters/refuges like?

    Domestic violence shelters or refuges provide temporary and supportive accommodation for women and their children fleeing violence and abuse.

    Staff at refuges might provide emotional support, counselling, support for your children, information and referral for financial, legal and housing assistance, planning for the future, and more.

    Shelters/refuges are secret locations that are closed to the public for the safety of the women and children that take refuge there. On average, women and their children stay for about eight to twelve weeks, and most transition into independent housing after they leave. Refuge is an excellent option for women and their children who are fleeing abuse and want to make a fresh and supported start.

    Virtual Tour of a Women’s Refuge

    This virtual tour of a Women’s Refuge is brought to you by a collaboration between Chisholm Inc and Brisbane Domestic Violence Service. We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of 4510tv in producing this video.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - Will my children be okay?

    For many women, the concern about their children is one of the biggest issues they have in regard to the domestic violence that occurred.

    We know that you have been trying hard to keep your children safe but there are so many unfair expectations placed on mothers and not enough responsibility placed on the person using violence to end their abuse.

    You are not to blame and there are services available to support you and your children, like our service, the Brisbane Domestic Violence Service (BDVS). Your children will be okay because they have you as their resourceful and protective caregiver.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - If the drinking stops will the violence stop?

    The consumption of alcohol or drugs does not cause abuse but if your partner acts more aggressively while under the influence, this is because alcohol and drug use can escalate abuse.

    It is common for abusive men to use alcohol and/or drugs as an excuse for their abusive behaviour. Your partner must be willing to end their abusive behaviours and acknowledge and address the patterns of abuse they have used against you.

    Stopping drinking alone will not be enough to put an end to the violence and abuse.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - Is it just narcissism?

    It’s natural to want to try to attribute a partner’s abusive behaviours and actions to a condition that they could seek treatment for and possibly get better.

    However, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is a rare condition. People who use abuse in their relationships frequently display narcissistic traits such as entitlement or feelings of superiority. These are all a part of domestic violence dynamics so your partner may simply be using domestic violence towards you.

    For more information on narcissism and DFV visit the National DV Hotline.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - Should my partner and I try couples counselling?

    If there has been violence or abuse in your relationship, couples counselling may put your safety at risk.

    For any type of counselling to be successful, parties present need to be open and honest about what is happening and cannot have any fear of repercussions. For these reasons, our service does not recommend couples counselling for couples with an experience of domestic violence.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - If he gets psychological help, will he get better?

    Mental health can impact a person’s behaviour. However, statistics show that people with mental health conditions are more likely to experience abuse than perpetrate it.

    Our Service always encourages people to seek psychological support for its proven benefits on mental health and wellbeing.

    Psychological help may benefit your partner on a personal level with their own mental health, however, individual one on one counselling is not a recommended method of behaviour change treatment for men who use violence in their relationships.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - How do I know if my partner/ex has really changed?

    The gaslighting and manipulation tactics that are a part of domestic violence dynamics, can make it difficult to know whether your partner or ex has stopped their abusive behaviour for good.

    Some indicators that your partner/ex may have stopped their abusive behaviour includes:

    • no longer using violence, intimidation, coercive control or abuse towards you
    • taking responsibility for their behaviour
    • not projecting blame on you, someone else or blaming their pressures or circumstances on you
    • not making excuses
    • communicating openly and honestly about past abusive behaviours
    • supporting your goals and aspirations in life
    • respecting you, your feelings and valuing your opinions.

    The Equality Wheel is about nonviolence and describes the qualities of a healthy relationship. The Power and Control Wheel is the Equality Wheel’s opposite, describing the violence used to exert control in unhealthy relationships.

    If you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship, please contact us for confidential advice or support.

  • + - I’m in debt because of DFV, who can help?

    If you are in debt because of domestic or family violence, you are not alone.

    Financial abuse is commonly used by abusers to control their partner to ensure they lack the financial capacity and security to leave. For some, the effects can last long after a person has fled a relationship, preventing them from starting afresh and building a new life with their children.

    There is support available. Our specialist financial counselling and advocacy service has been funded by CUA since 2017 and has alleviated around $500,000 of domestic and family violence related debt from hundreds of women and families.

    Our Specialist Domestic Violence Financial Advocate provides free and confidential financial and budgeting information, advocacy and support to people who have experienced financial abuse, hardship or stress arising from domestic violence. The Advocate works creatively and persistently to negotiate with creditors to eliminate debt incurred due to domestic and family violence.

    You may also be eligible to receive financial assistance from Victims Assist Queensland (VAQ) if you have experienced an act of domestic and family violence in Queensland. Visit VAQ to find out about eligibility.

    View Victims Assist video.

    Many Australian banks now have policies to assist customers who have experienced domestic and family violence.

    Our Specialist Domestic Violence Financial Advocate can support you with accessing the above and finding financial freedom after domestic and family violence. Contact BDVS today.

  • + - Do I have to maintain contact with my abusive ex?

    If you are being told by someone that you have to maintain contact with your ex, you may want to seek legal advice.

    Contact us and we can provide information or referral for legal advice.

    If you have to maintain contact with your ex for whatever reason, we can support you with your safety. Call us anytime.