This website is for use by legal professionals (lawyers and law practices) only. If the information is used incorrectly, you could risk losing money or your legal rights. If you are a member of the public looking for free advice about your legal problems please visit, or contact our Legal Help advice line on 1300 792 387, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 6 pm. 

If you decide to use or rely on the information or make decisions based on the information in this website (which VLA does not recommend) VLA is not liable to you or any third party in any way for any loss, damage, costs or expenses you or they may suffer or incur as a result.

What is family violence under Victorian law?

Family violence is a violation of basic human rights. Laws are in place to protect family members from violence.

Family violence is defined under the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 to include behaviour towards a family member which is:

  • violent or physically abusive
  • sexually abusive or assault, sexually coercive behaviour
  • emotionally or psychologically abusive
  • economically abusive
  • threatening or coercing
  • intentionally damaging a family member's property (or threatening to do so), or
  • dominating or controlling in any other way and which causes the family member to feel fear for their safety or the safety of another person.

Family violence is also defined as behaviour that causes a child to see or hear or be exposed to the effects of the behaviour described above.

Family violence includes behaviour which is not criminal, including emotional, economic or psychological abuse.

Examples of family violence

Family violence includes:

  • using coercion, threats, physical abuse, or emotional or psychological abuse to:
    • cause a person to enter a marriage (that is forced marriage)
    • demand or receive a dowry, whether before or after a marriage
  • assaulting or causing injury to a family member
  • sexually assaulting a family member
  • sexually coercive behaviour
  • intentionally damaging a family member’s property
  • unlawfully depriving a family member of their liberty
  • causing the death or injury of an animal, so as to control, dominate or coerce a family member
  • threatening to do any of the above.

Examples of child exposure to family violence

Examples of a child being exposed to the effects of the behaviour include:

  • overhearing threats of physical abuse by one family member towards another
  • seeing or hearing an assault of a family member
  • comforting or giving assistance to a family member who has been physically abused by another family member , or
  • having to clean up after property belonging to one family member has intentionally been damaged by another family member or even being present when police officers attend an incident involving physical abuse of one family member by another.

More information


Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)

  • s. 5—the meaning of family violence

See Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic)(opens in a new window).