Identifying domestic violence

Identifying domestic violence Expert Opinion Panel | Dr Cate Banks – Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner

Identifying domestic violenceIdentifying domestic violence

Identifying domestic violence Exclusive!

Is this you, or someone you know?
Dr Cate Banks, Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner
for | 5th December 2011

My last article discussed the issue of domestic violence in relation to mediation

I’d like to continue a dialogue about the role of mediation and domestic violence in future discussions. However, as the year is coming to a close and Christmas Holidays often brings out the best and worst in family situations, I’d like to give you some information that might be useful to consider about some of the indicators of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence can be either very obvious or very subtle behaviour, so it’s important to get a sense of what it might look like. This is not an exclusive or exhaustive list. Some of these experiences might be relevant to yourself or you may have seen a family member in these types of situations or who described some of these experiences in the general course of their lives.

Unfortunately, the prevalence of domestic violence in Australia is extremely high and in close family relationships, women and children are often the victims.

Some specific examples of Family and Domestic Violence

Physical Abuse

can takes many forms and may include: being punched, pushed or shoved; someone pulling your hair; someone slapping; kicking; twisting arms; being thrown against walls or furniture; and being hit with objects or injured with weapons; frequent physical injuries bruises, broken bones, wrist or ankle sprains, cuts and inconsistent or implausible explanations for injuries. Ask yourself, are you wearing concealing clothing in order to hide bruising and injuries?

Verbal Abuse

includes a person constantly putting you down; comments about incompetence as a person; and threats of physical abuse to you for any reason, someone swearing at you or calling you names such as “stupid”, “dumb”, “ugly”, “idiot” [the list could be endless]. Verbal abuse may be the cause for someone being unusually quiet, withdrawn, afraid to speak, anxious, depressed, continually devaluing, with no self-confidence or appearing to be under the control of a partner and accepting being ridiculed or undermined in public;

Financial Abuse

includes not having a say in how the family income is spent; being refused money for family needs; being expected to live on impossibly small amounts of money; and or being denied the right to keep money earned. Ask youself, am I without money because my partner has control over it?

Social Abuse

includes having to account for everything that you may do in the course of a day; being stopped from mixing with your family or friends; being put down in front of other people; being stopped from using the family car; and being denied the right to go to work and earn your own money. If you do go to work being forced or co-erced into handing money over to the control of someone when you don’t feel it is a mutual decision.

This is a behavior that causes you to be socially isolated, reluctant or just unable to participate in community activities or events, or unable to go to work or to study and you may always be seeking your partner’s permission before committing to activities. You may also just feel may appear fearful;or make excuses for not attending family gatherings; Ask youself, are you unable to talk on the phone for any length of time and makes excuses to finish the conversation quickly ? Do you have mental health issues, anxiety, anger, or depression?

Sexual Abuse

includes any forced and/or unwanted sexual contact, being ignored or punished for not engaging in sexual intercourse at the request of the other person.

Psychological Abuse

includes behaviour and or comments which are designed to destroy your self confidence and make you believe that you are useless, insane or stupid. It is a type of “brainwashing” that everything that goes “wrong”in a family is your fault. You might become defensive if people express concern about your well-being.

Spiritual Abuse

undermines self identity by behaviours such as criticism of spiritual beliefs; the quoting of religious texts to justify abusive behaviour; and using symbols of religion or spirituality in abusive ways.

Damage to Property

occurs when the house, household furniture, or anything else that is owned or used by you or the other person or the family is damaged or broken by violent behavior of another. This includes breaking a plates or things of value, kicking a hole in the wall, or damaging the car.

Maiming or killing pets

Children and domestic violence
A child who has experienced domestic violence may:

  • Appear tired and stressed
  • Be distracted and unable to concentrate at school
  • Be withdrawn and isolated, emotionally detached and unavailable
  • Be hyper-vigilant and watchful
  • Experience physical symptoms such as stomach ache, head ache
  • Be restless, emotionally distraught and have difficulty managing stress or tension
  • Be abusive and aggressive (eg with siblings, peers or parents

Identifying some of the indicators for domestic violence is the first step. Taking the next steps can be difficult and challenging, but there are services that can assist you through the process you are ready to take. Make sure you check this website for the links to services that can provide you with assistance and support here.

The most important thing to take away from this is to always remember –


Take care, have a merry and safe Christmas and well talk again in the 2012 (amongst others) ways to mediate if you have left a violent relationship but still need to manage the relationship with the father in order to parent your children.

Take care of yourself and your kids.

Cate Banks

Dr. Cate Banks LLB (Hons), B. Com, Ph.D (Law)
Vocational Graduate Diploma in Family Dispute Resolution
Graduate Certificate in Dispute Resolution
CEO, Resolutions Mediation Services

Source of information: Queensland Domestic Violence Services Network 2002, “Reaching Out- a domestic violence information session for family and friends”

This article may not be reprinted, reproduced, or retransmitted in whole or in part without the express written consent of article contains only general information, correct at the date of publication. For advice regarding your own personal circumstances, always seek individual advice from a qualified professional. Read the full Disclaimer here

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