Family violence is the use of violence by a current or former intimate partner or family member. This includes people who share a family-like relationship with the person they are harming. For example, it includes unpaid carers, housemates, chosen family and kinship connections for Aboriginal people. Family violence is not just physical. It also encompasses emotional, psychological, sexual, cultural and financial abuse and neglect. This includes threatening, coercive and controlling behaviours.
Sexual violence, or sexual assault, is a type of violence in which any sexual act is attempted, or occurs, without consent. Sexual violence can be a form of family violence. It can also be perpetrated outside of a family context.
We use the term ‘family and sexual violence’ when talking about our work to prevent violence. This is when we seek to change the attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that contribute to both forms of violence.
When we talk about ‘sexual violence’ in this document, we mean sexual violence within a family or family-like relationship.
We are developing a dedicated sexual violence strategy. This strategy will help us coordinate and improve the way we respond to all forms of sexual violence.
We acknowledge the significant role that sexual assault services play in supporting people who experience sexual violence, including as a form of family violence. Their work is vital, and we will continue to support them so victim survivors receive the specialist response they need.
Violence against women refers to violence directed at a woman because she is a woman or violence that affects women disproportionately . The term ‘women’ includes cisgender, trans and gender diverse women and sistergirls.
Gender-based violence refers to violence that is used against someone because of their gender. While people of all genders can experience gender-based violence, the term is most often used to describe violence against women and girls. This is because most gender-based violence is perpetrated by heterosexual, cisgender men against women, because they are women.
The Victim Survivors’ Advisory Council guided us on the terms we use to refer to people who are harmed by family violence and those who use violence. We acknowledge that people who are harmed by family violence have different ways they choose to identify themselves and others. We cannot capture all identities and experiences but acknowledge the importance of each person choosing how they identify.
This is why we use the terms victim survivor and person who has experienced violence interchangeably. ‘Victim survivor’ includes those who may identify more with the ‘victim’ or the ‘survivor’ term at different points of their journey. Some people may also feel they have progressed beyond being a survivor.
We also use the terms person who uses violence and perpetrator interchangeably. Both terms emphasise the violent behaviour. However, one may be more appropriate than the other depending on the cultural context or preference of the victim survivor.
These terms aim to support more people to see themselves and their experiences in this document.
The words ‘our’ and ‘we’ in this document refer to the Victorian Government.
 Our Watch 2021, Change the story: a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women in Australia, 2nd ed., accessed 26 June 2023.
 Commonwealth of Australia 2022, National plan to end violence against women and children 2022-2032.