Everyone in a family should feel safe and nurtured. Any behaviour that makes someone else feel controlled and fearful is never OK.

A healthy family and relationship is based on trust & support. But in some relationships one person uses power and fear to control the other. These relationships are emotionally abusive and can become extremely unsafe.

Violence is used to:

Stop someone doing something
Make someone do something, or
Punish someone for doing something

People choose to be violent to get their own way.
Violence is not just about hitting or punching, it’s about power and control.  


Psychological violence includes:

  • Yelling, shouting, threatening or name-calling.
  • Constantly criticising or humiliating someone.
  • Damaging property & possessions or harming pets to scare someone.
  • Making someone feel isolated and alone.
  • Threatening to take the children away or hurt them.
  • Making someone feel scared of what might happen next.

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Forcing someone to have sex or do other sexual acts they don't want to do.
  • Touching someone in a way they don't want.
  • Frequently accusing someone of sleeping with other people.
  • Forcing someone to watch porn.

Physical abuse includes:

  • Hitting and punching.
  • Biting, pushing, choking or pulling hair.
  • Making someone drink or take drugs when they don't want to.
  • Using or threatening to use weapons.

Financial abuse includes:

  • Taking someone’s money or property.
  • Running up debts in someone else’s name.
  • Misusing power of attorney.
  • Pressuring someone into paying money.

Neglect includes:

  • Not providing food, clothing and warmth.
  • Leaving dependants alone or with someone who is unsafe.
  • Not providing comfort, attention and love.
  • Not providing medical treatment.

What are the effects of Family Violence?

Domestic violence affects our whole community. From lost productivity at workplaces to absenteeism at school to higher prison numbers. Domestic violence can and does occur in all socio-economic groups, cultures, and religions


Most victims of domestic violence are women.

Physical violence is most likely to be identified as violence, however many forms of abuse go undetected because they are not usually called violence.

Survivors of violent relationships report that they are more hurt by psychological and emotional abuse. This is because psychological abuse attacks their spirit and self-esteem and its effects last the longest.

People in violent relationships feel frightened. They feel as though they cannot be themselves because their actions, thoughts and choices are determined by the person who is controlling them.


More information about the effects of violence on partners.


Witnessing violence at home makes children feel scared and alone. It can affect the way they behave and lead to problems at school or with their friends. Experiencing violence can physically harm children, make them anxious and fearful and affect the way their brain develops. The effects of violence can last a lifetime. The physical scars on the outside may heal - the emotional scars on the inside may not.

Children who experience family violence are also more likely to experience or use violence as adults.

It's important to remember that children need adults to keep them safe, and we all have a role to play in this. If you are worried about a child you know - don't ignore it. Don't be afraid to offend an adult if it means helping a child.

The sooner you reach out, the sooner people can get the help they need.

More information about the effects of violence on children.

Older People

It’s not OK for older people to be abused or neglected by family members or caregivers. Elder abuse and neglect occurs within a relationship of trust, usually by members of the older person’s family/whānau or paid carer.

Elder abuse is not just physical violence or using force like pushing or slapping. It can be using older people’s money without consent, controlling & taking decisions out of their hands, treating them like children or denying them the care they need.

Older people have the right to make their own choices and decisions even if we don’t agree with them. They have the right to spend their money as they choose.


More information about the effects of violence on older people.


Gay, Lesbian, Transexual, Transgender

Violence can occur in any relationship and is about power and control over another.

Violence for gay, lesbian, transsexual and transgender can be physical, sexual, psychological, economic and spiritual and occurs approximately the same as for heterosexual couples.

For gay, lesbian, transsexual or transgender individuals and couples, fear of homosexuality or choosing to live differently from the way society is organised around the idea of heterosexuality, can make it more difficult to seek help or receive appropriate services.

Some of the additional issues which gay, lesbian, transgender and transsexual people can experience include:

  • Threats of being ‘outed’
  • Being told no one will help you because of your sexuality or way you choose to live your life.
  • Being told you won’t be believed because gay and lesbians do not rape or abuse their lovers.
  • Being told you deserve it because he or she is homosexual.
  • By telling a male partner that the behaviour is not domestic violence but an expression of masculinity.

Whatever type of relationship you are in, you have a right to safety. For help to deal with partner violence contact:

More information about the effects of violence on rainbow communities.


For more information about family and relationship violence and how it effects people, check out the National Network of Stopping Violence services website.