About domestic & family violence

Domestic and family violence (DFV) occurs when one person in a domestic relationship (partner, ex-partner, family member, kinship) uses violence or abuse to exercise power and control over another person.

It's important for businesses and employees to understand what DFV is and the impact on all of us.


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What is DFV?

Domestic and family violence occurs when one person in a domestic relationship (partner, ex-partner, family member, kinship) uses violence or abuse to exercise power and control over another person. It includes behavior that is:

  • physically, sexually, emotionally, spiritually, psychologically or economically abusive
  • threatening and coercive or aimed at controlling or dominating the other person through fear.

You may find it easier to think of DFV as serious abuse or control, not just ‘violence’. Financial control, verbal abuse, constant criticism, threats, and controlling behaviours all cause psychological and emotional harm and can have serious consequences.

It isn’t safe to wait until the abuse gets physical before seeking help.

Types of domestic and family violence

Click on each for examples

DFV impacts people differently

In addition to this difference in experience between men and women, statistics have shown that domestic and family violence affects certain communities in in different and more pronounced ways in comparison with the general population.

In particular:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people;
  • people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds;
  • the elderly;
  • people with a disability;
  • people who identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex; and
  • children


  • People from culturally and linguistically diverse communities could face additional barriers to service and support, such as English language proficiency, knowledge or understanding of Queensland’s laws against domestic and family violence, dependence on a violent spouse for their visa status, and distrust of police and government authorities based on past trauma. Victims with few connections outside their cultural community are particularly vulnerable to social isolation.
  • People who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) may also experience violence in their relationships. In addition to the types of violence and abuse experienced within relationships in the broader community, abusive partners or family members may threaten to ‘out’ victims as a method of control.

The size of the issue in Australia

Unfortunately, domestic and family violence is a serious problem in Australia.

Research and data shows that, in Australia:

  • 1 in 6 women has experienced physical abuse from a current or former partner. 6
  • 1 in 19 men has experienced physical abuse from a current or former partner. 6
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced emotional abuse from a current or former partner. 6
  • Australian women are nearly 3 times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner. 6
  • Young women (18–24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups. 9
  • Intimate partner violence is the 3rd greatest health risk factor for women aged 25-44. 10
  • Domestic or family violence is a leading driver of homelessness for women. 11

On average, one women dies every week in Australia at the hand of her current or former partner. 12
In 2014-15, 29 homicides related to DFV occurred just in Queensland. 13

In 2014-15, over 70,000 incidents of DFV were reported to police in Queensland alone.13 Unfortunately, it is estimated that only 1 in 10 incidents are reported. 7

DFV impacts on the workplace

Domestic and family violence is a workplace issue.

  • Two-thirds of Australian women experiencing domestic and family violence are employed. 2
  • The Australian retail industry employs over 1.2 million people.
  • The NRA estimates that up to 100,000 retail workers may have experienced domestic and family violence.

Like most issues, our home lives and personal relationships impact our work.

Impacts on workplaces

Click on each for more detail

We can do better

Only 48% of employees who experienced violence told their manager or supervisor. Of those that did, only 10% found their responses helpful.

Business owners and managers report that they feel overwhelmed, confused or ill-equipped to address domestic and family violence.

So what should businesses do?

It can seem daunting to address domestic and family violence in your workplace, but it’s more important than ever.

There are many resources and support services available, but it can be hard for a business owner to know where to start.

The National Retail Association has created a Business Action Plan, so that small to medium businesses can take practical, positive action against domestic violence today.

Domestic Violence Retailer Advice Hotline: 1800 445 522

Retailers seeking advice on managing domestic and family violence issues in their workplace can call the National Retail Association to speak with our workplace relations specialists. The tollfree hotline is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

Please note: the advice provided on this website is designed to assist retailers in understanding domestic and family violence but is not legal advice and is not a substitute for independent legal advice tailored to the particular circumstances of your business. The NRA accepts no liability for any action taken or not taken as a result of anything published on this website. Each retail business should assess and make decisions based on their own advice and situation.