Family violence includes physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse, as well as coercion and control or domination that causes the family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of themselves or another person, and the exposure of these behaviours, or the effects of them, to a child.
There are many relationships in which family violence can occur. These include between spouses or domestic partners and in other intimate personal relationships such as parent–child, child–parent, with elders, siblings and other relatives, and between extended families, kinship networks and in family-like or carer relationships.
This report adopts gendered language in recognition that most (but not all) victims of family violence are women, most (but not all) perpetrators are men, and that violence perpetrated by a man is the most prevalent form of family violence. It recognises that the causes of family violence are complex and include gender inequality and community attitudes towards the roles of women and men in society.
Throughout this report, references are made to ‘women, children and young people’ in relation to people who are victim survivors of, or at risk of, family violence, and to ‘men’ in relation to people perpetrating violence. When we use the term perpetrator, we are referring to adults, not adolescents who use violence in the home who need a developmentally appropriate response. However, it is recognised that some individuals and communities, including Aboriginal communities, prefer the term ‘person using family violence’ and that terminology needs to be tailored in different practice settings to support engagement.
At the same time, there is a recognition that men and boys might also experience family violence in their own right, that perpetrators are not always men, and that family violence occurs in relationships other than male–female intimate partner relationships. Victims of these forms of family violence face additional barriers to getting help because these other forms of violence are often not recognised or understood. The Orange Door aims to respond to, and link effectively with, services that respond to family violence in all its forms.
The word family has many different meanings. Our use of the word ‘families’ is all-encompassing and acknowledges the variety of relationships and structures that can make up a family unit and the range of ways family violence can be experienced, including through family-like or carer relationships.
Throughout this report, the term Aboriginal is used to refer to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Diversity within the Victorian population is increasing as people express multiple forms of identity and belonging. Diverse groups can experience additional risk of family violence and particular barriers to seeking safety and justice. Intersectionality describes how characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, ability, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or age, can interact on multiple levels to create overlapping forms of discrimination and power imbalances which compounds the risk of experiencing family violence.