Abuse can be emotional, financial, spiritual or physical. In the ‘Change the Story’ report by Our Watch, VicHealth and ANROWS, they further categorise these as perpetrated by location and relationship: domestic, emotional/psychological, family, gender based, intimate partner, non-partner sexual. They define these categories as follows:


Domestic violence: acts of violence that occur in domestic settings between two people who are, or were, in an intimate relationship. It includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and financial abuse. 

Emotional/psychological violence: a range of controlling behaviours such as control of finances, isolation from family and friends, continual humiliation, threats against children or being threatened with injury or death.

Family violence: a broader term than domestic violence, as it refers not only to violence between intimate partners but also to violence between family members. This includes, for example, elder abuse and adolescent violence against parents. Family violence includes violent or threatening behaviour, or any other form of behaviour that coerces or controls a family member or causes that family member to be fearful. In Indigenous communities, family violence is often the preferred term as it encapsulates the broader issue of violence within extended families, kinship networks and community relationships, as well as intergenerational issues.

Gender based violence: violence that is specifically ‘directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately’.

Intimate partner violence: any behaviour by a man or a woman within an intimate relationship (including current or past marriages, domestic partnerships, familial relations, or people who share accommodation) that causes physical, sexual or psychological harm to those in the relationship. This is the most common form of violence against women.

Non-partner sexual assault: sexual violence perpetrated by people such as strangers, acquaintances, friends, colleagues, peers, teachers, neighbours and family members.


Further to these categories, the South Australian Council of Churches defines a further type of violence: Spiritual Abuse.


Spiritual violence: Using scripture, ideas about God, pastoral “care” and the Church to justify violence and further control and abuse. These include denying access to faith communities, criticising spiritual beliefs, selective use of scripture to claim God’s blessing on violence, and warning of damnation if she leaves the relationship.

Do you need support?

The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available: