Commonly referred to as ‘family violence’, domestic violence is against the law in South Australia. It is ok to talk to someone about domestic violence. You have the right to feel safe in your own home and should never have to experience or see domestic violence.
Domestic violence occurs when someone close to you threatens or does something to harm you or someone else in your family. It can include:
- Physical Assault: Punching, kicking, hitting, pushing, slapping, choking or using weapons;
- Sexual Assault: Being forced to have sexual intercourse or participate in sexual activities (either by watching or participating);
- Emotional or Psychological Abuse: Someone makes you feel worthless, criticises your personality, looks, the way you dress, constantly puts you down, threatens to hurt you, your children/pets, following you or going to places that you visit often, or recklessly driving a vehicle you are a passenger in;
- Economic Abuse: Taking control of your money (i.e. not letting you spend it, not provide enough money to survive, forcing you to sign a loan or not allowing you to work);
- Threatening or Intimidating You: Stalking, yelling, shouting, swearing, name-calling (either by writing (i.e. through SMS or social media) or spoken);
- Damaging your property, pets or livestock; or
- Any other form of controlling behaviour that is directed either towards you or a family member (i.e. restricting you from seeing friends or family, or isolating you from others).
Any person can commit domestic violence including your family, boyfriend/girlfriend, someone you live with, a relative, a partner or carer or even your parents’ partner. You can still be a victim of domestic violence even when you are not directly involved. This is called ‘exposure’ to domestic violence, and it includes situations where you hear or witness domestic violence occurring. You could, for example: overhear threats of physical abuse, see or hear assault, clean up a mess after a family member has deliberately damaged another family member’s property, being present when the police attend an incident of physical abuse of a family member by another family member or comforting or providing assistance to another family member who has been physically abused. If you are under 18 years of age, exposure to domestic violence could also constitute child abuse.
Domestic violence will always be unacceptable. If you see it occur or are a victim of domestic violence, you should not be afraid to report it. If you do not report the violence occurring, then no one will know what is happening and they therefore cannot help you. Everyone has a right to be safe from any form of violence. If you feel like yourself or anyone else is in immediate danger, it is best to call the Police (in Australia) on 000. All information provided to the Police will be kept confidential. If you are afraid for your safety, the court in addition may issue a court order, which prevents a person from hurting you.
This article describes the law in relation to domestic violence in South Australia. The law may differ if you are in a different State or Territory of Australia.