What is domestic and family violence?
Everyone has the right to live without fear of violence or abuse.
If there is violence or you or your children have been threatened, get help from the police. Call 000 if you think you’re in danger.
Domestic and family violence services can help you work out a plan to leave the relationship safely.
You can also get help and support from domestic and family violence services:
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, you can:
- apply for a domestic violence protection order or ask the police to apply for you
- apply for an urgent temporary protection order
- ask the police to charge the person being violent.
Get legal advice.
If you or your children are at risk of immediate harm, call the police. In an emergency, call 000. Get legal advice.
What is domestic and family violence?
Domestic violence behaviour includes when another person you’re in a relationship with:
- is physically or sexually abusive to you
- is emotionally or psychologically abusive to you
- is economically abusive to you
- is threatening to you
- is coercive, or
- controls or dominates you and causes you to fear for your safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.
Examples of this type of behaviour include:
- injuring you or threatening to injure you (punching, strangling you, grabbing your throat, pushing, slapping, pulling your hair or twisting your arms)
- repeatedly calling, SMS texting or emailing you, or contacting you on your social networking site without your consent
- damaging (or threatening to damage) your property (eg punching holes in the walls or breaking plates)
- stalking or following you or remaining outside your house or place of work
- monitoring you (unauthorised surveillance) including reading your text messages, your email account, your internet browser history or your social networking site
- putting you down
- making racial taunts
- holding you against your will
- forcing you to engage in sexual activities without your consent
- getting someone else to injure, intimidate, harass or threaten you, or damage your property
- threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to scare you
- threatening you with the death or harm of another person
- threatening to withdraw their care of you if you don’t do something
- coercing you into giving them your social security payments
- forcing you to sign a power of attorney to them against your will so they manage your finances
- threatening to disclose your sexual orientation to your friends or family without your consent
- preventing you from making or keeping connections with your family, friends or culture, including cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practices.
You don’t have to have been physically injured to have experienced domestic violence.
If you need help, call DV Connect on 1800 811 811, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How can the police help?
The police must investigate if they suspect there is domestic violence in a relationship. If they reasonably believe domestic violence has been committed they can:
- charge the respondent with a criminal offence (eg stalking, assault, grievous bodily harm)
- issue a police protection notice—issued on the spot and protects you straight away from any further domestic violence acts (it has the same effect as a court order until the matter is heard in court)
- apply to a court for a domestic violence protection order for you
- apply to a court to change an existing domestic violence protection order
- take the respondent into custody—if the respondent is likely to injure someone or damage property
- apply directly to a magistrate for an urgent temporary order.
Find out more
About domestic violence protection orders
How to apply for a domestic violence protection order
What to do if someone has taken out a domestic violence protection order against you
Dealing with children and domestic violence orders
'Law for All'— recognising financial control as part of family and domestic violence podcast
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if:
- you or your children are at risk of domestic or family violence or abuse
- you need help to work out a plan to leave a relationship safely
- you want to apply for a domestic violence protection order
- someone has applied for a domestic violence protection order against you
- you have been issued with a police protection notice
- police have made an application for a domestic violence protection order against you or your partner
- you want to change a domestic violence protection order
- you had to leave your home because of violence but your name is still on the lease
- you had an order interstate or overseas and want to register it in Queensland
- you have been asked to attend family dispute resolution but have concerns for your safety.
Get legal advice
We may give legal advice and help about domestic and family violence.
The following organisations may be able to give legal advice.
Women's Legal Service gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.
Queensland Indigenous Family Violence Legal Service provides legal and counselling services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffering from the direct and indirect effects of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Family Relationship Advice Line is a free national telephone service giving help to families affected by relationship or separation issues, including parents, grandparents, children, young people, step-parents and friends.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of topics. Contact them to find out if they can help with your matter.
Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation.
Who else can help?
These organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.
Queensland Police Service responds to emergency situations (eg if there is violence or you or your children have been threatened). Call 000 if you're in immediate danger.
Domestic and Family Violence Court Assistance Service gives information about domestic violence and helps with applications in some courts in Queensland. Court assistance workers can also help with legal aid applications and referrals to other services.
DV Connect gives counselling, information, referral and help including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence. They also manage the Pets in crisis project arranging foster care for pets while people affected by domestic violence are in temporary accommodation.
1800 Respect If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
Mensline (DV Connect) is a free, confidential telephone counselling, referral and support service for men.
Immigrant Women's Support Service offers free confidential, practical and emotional support to immigrant and refugee women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and their children who have experienced domestic or sexual violence.
Relationships Australia offers a range of men and family relationship services including counselling, family dispute resolution, assistance on relationship and parenting matters and education courses.
The Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women has a list of brokerage and emergency crisis payment arrangements available to people experiencing domestic and family violence (DFV), including additional avenues available to people with disability and their children who are impacted by DFV.
White Ribbon Australia provides a list of services that can help.
Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.
Last updated 23 June 2023
If you have a general question for Legal Aid Queensland, please use the general question form or call 1300 65 11 88, Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 4.30pm.