Understanding Family Violence: Identifying the problem and finding the support you need

Photo of Annalise Romer from Romer Maud Family Lawyers.

Family violence is a serious issue that affects many individuals and families. At Romer Maud Family Lawyers, we have assisted hundreds of family violence clients and know the importance of education and access to quality support.

In this blog, written by our Principal, Annalise Romer, we explore what family violence is, what you need to know about it, and where you can find the support you need. Read on.

Please note that the legal definitions and resources mentioned in this blog are specific to Victoria, Australia.

Understanding the nuances of family violence is crucial. It empowers individuals to recognise and address this issue effectively.

Here in Victoria, family violence is legally defined and encompasses a broad range of abusive behaviours. Understanding this definition is crucial for recognising and addressing the issue effectively.

Under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 in Victoria, family violence includes behaviour by a person towards a family member that is:

Physically Abusive: This includes any intentional act of violence that causes harm or injury to the victim, such as:

  • Hitting,
  • Slapping,
  • Pushing, or
  • Using weapons.


Sexually Abusive: Any non-consensual sexual activity – including rape and sexual assault – constitutes sexual abuse. This also includes coercing a person into sexual acts without their consent.

Emotionally or Psychologically Abusive: This is behaviour that causes emotional harm or psychological distress. This can include:

  • Threats of violence,
  • Intimidation and harassment,
  • Verbal abuse and name-calling,
  • Manipulative behaviours aimed at controlling the victim,
  • Stalking and monitoring activities, and/or
  • Isolating the victim from friends, family, or other support networks.


Economically Abusive: Actions that control a person’s financial resources, limiting their ability to support themselves and become financially independent. Examples include:

  • Denying access to money,
  • Forcing the victim to relinquish control of their finances, and/or
  • Preventing the victim from working or accessing education.


Coercive and Controlling Behaviours: Actions that restrict a person’s autonomy and freedom, making them feel afraid, intimidated, or dependent on the abuser. These behaviours can include:

  • Regulating the victim’s daily activities,
  • Dictating what they wear or who they see, and/or
  • Monitoring their communications and movements.

Additional Forms of Family Violence

The legislation also recognises other forms of family violence, including:

Damage to Property: Intentionally damaging or destroying property to intimidate or control the victim.

Harm to Pets: Abusing or threatening to harm pets as a means of controlling or terrorising the victim.

Exposing Children to Violence: Subjecting children to family violence, either directly or indirectly, which can cause significant emotional and psychological harm.

How family violence can impact children

The Act acknowledges that children can be profoundly affected by family violence, even if they are not the direct victims. Exposure to family violence can include:

  • Seeing or hearing violence,
  • Observing the aftermath of violence, such as injuries or property damage,
  • Being used as a tool to manipulate or control the victim, and/or
  • Recognising these impacts is essential for providing appropriate support and interventions for children in violent environments.

Legal protections and resources you can use for support

Victims of family violence have several legal options and resources available to them, such as:

Protection Orders: These are legal orders designed to protect the victim from further harm by restricting the abuser’s actions and proximity to the victim.

Criminal Charges: In severe cases, abusers can face criminal charges, which may result in imprisonment, fines, and other penalties.

Divorce and Parenting Proceedings: Family violence can significantly impact divorce proceedings and child-parenting arrangements. Courts prioritise the safety and well-being of victims and children when making decisions.

Support Services

Numerous organisations offer support services for victims of family violence.

At Romer Maud Family Lawyers, we can connect you with a range of support services in Victoria, including refuges, counselling, and financial assistance programs. You are not alone in this journey.

Useful Contacts and Resources


Emergency Services

  • Police, Fire, Ambulance: 000 (or your local emergency number)


Support Services


Shelter and Housing


Financial Assistance

  • Centrelink: 13 61 50
  • Salvation Army: 13 72 58


Working with our family lawyers

If you or someone you know may be experiencing family violence, it is crucial that you seek professional help. Our family law team is here to discuss your options for separation and provide support for family violence. Remember, there is always help available to you.

To get in touch with us, simply fill out our contact form, and we will reply within 24 business hours. If you’d like to book an appointment, click the button below.

If you need a faster response, you can call us directly at (03) 9988 1208 to speak with our team.


About The Author - Annalise Romer

Annalise is a dedicated Family Law attorney and founding partner at Romer Maud Family Lawyers, specializing in complex parenting matters since 2012. Known for her empathetic and down-to-earth style, she aims to build trust and provide emotional support to her clients while navigating the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia. Besides her legal career, Annalise is a mother with diverse interests including fitness, animal welfare, and travel. She’s also a collaborative practice lawyer and a member of various law councils. Her multifaceted life allows her to deeply connect with her clients beyond the courtroom.

*This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.

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