Threats, abuse and harassment
Threats, abuse and harassment can be a criminal offence—but you may not be able to take legal action unless the harassment is enough to get a domestic violence order, or is considered sexual harassment or stalking.
If you’re receiving threats of violence or verbal abuse or experiencing family or domestic violence, you should report these to the police. If it’s an emergency, call 000.
If someone is harassing you online you should contact the police or your internet service provider to help make sure you are safe and secure when using services such as email, internet chat rooms or social networking sites.
What should I do if I’m receiving threats or verbal abuse?
If you’ve experienced family or domestic violence, or if you or someone you know is in danger contact the police. In an emergency call 000.
If you’re receiving threats of violence or verbal abuse you should report these to the police. In some situations if you’re being threatened you may be able to take out a Peace and good behaviour order or a domestic violence order. For more information—see domestic and family violence. If you’re unsure get legal advice.
The Queensland courts have information about how to apply for a peace and good behaviour order.
Stalking may be considered a criminal offence and can include:
- following a person
- hanging around (loitering) near where they work or live
- repeatedly contacting a person
- intimidating or harassing another person
- threatening or committing acts of violence against someone.
It can be stalking even if it has only happened once, or for a long period of time.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t intend for the other person to feel intimidated, afraid or to cause them serious harm, if your behaviour makes them feel this way then it’s stalking.
For more information see—stalking.
Using obscene language
It’s not an offence to use obscene language, unless it’s used in public. In some situations obscene language used in private or at home may be considered an offence if it’s used in relation to other acts of domestic violence.
If you’re experiencing harassment that includes threats to harm you or to damage property, you should contact the police. In an emergency call 000.
Using services such as email, internet chat rooms or social networking sites (eg Facebook) to threaten or harass someone is called cyberstalking or cyber bullying. If you’re receiving unwanted attention from someone and want to make it stop, contact your internet service provider and check the security features on the sites you use.
For more information read our guide Is it legal? What you need to know about using your phone and social media.
Schools may have procedures to deal with a bullying situation. For more information visit the Department of Education website or the Federal Government’s Bullying No way! website.
Unless the harassment is enough to get a domestic violence order, or is considered sexual harassment or stalking, you may not be able to take legal action.
Do I need legal advice?
You may need legal advice if you’re:
- receiving verbal abuse or threats and are considering applying for a domestic violence order or a peace and good behaviour order
- being harassed online
- going to be interviewed by police or charged with a criminal offence.
How to get legal advice
We may give legal advice about domestic violence orders, peace and good behaviour orders, sexual harassment, and children being interviewed or charged with a criminal offence.
The following organisations may be able to give you legal advice:
Women's Legal Service gives free legal advice to women on areas of law including domestic violence and family law.
Rural Women's Outreach Legal Service gives initial legal advice to rural women, including advice about family law and domestic violence.
Community legal centres give legal advice on a range of areas of law. Contact them to find out if they can help.
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.
The eSafety Commissioner has information about Cyberbullying and online social networking.
DV Connect provides counselling, information, referral and help for women including refuge and shelter placement and crisis intervention to people affected by domestic violence.
1800 Respect If you or someone you know is experiencing sexual abuse or family violence contact 1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
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.
Queensland Courts has information about Peace and good behaviour orders.
ReachOut.com has information and support for young people on a range of issues, including cyber bullying.
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 20 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.