What is abuse?
||Abuse is when one person tries to hurt or bully another person, or does things to them that make them feel bad.
Abuse by one parent towards another
Parents should always show each other respect. Both parents have a right to express their opinions and beliefs, and to see their own family or friends. But abuse is when one parent doesn't show respect for the other. Instead, sometimes they try to hurt, control or bully the other parent. This is called domestic violence.
- 'He treats her like he owns her and she has to do what he says or else.'
Forms of domestic violence
Social abuse when one parent stops the other from seeing their friends or family, or from having a job. It can include when one parent constantly checks up on where the other is, or follows or stalks them.
Emotional abuse like constantly putting the other parent down or making them feel stupid or bad. It can include emotional blackmail, like threatening to commit suicide if their partner leaves.
- 'Mum's boyfriend would get paranoid and go off at her if she even talked to another man. He would keep an eye on her all the time and question what she does.'
Financial abuse is when one parent takes control of the money in the household, and doesn't let the other parent have any money.
- 'My Dad would always use really bad language at her, he calls her a 'loser' and says she's useless.'
Sexual abuse is when one person makes the other do sexual things that they don't want to do.
- 'Mum's never allowed to have any of her own money to spend, and he won't let her use the car to see my grandma.'
Physical abuse is when one parent hits, pushes, throws things, or threatens to physically hurt the other.
Domestic violence isn't always physical. The other forms of abuse can hurt just as much as physical abuse.
- 'My step-dad gets aggro and makes mum scared of him.'
Seeing one parent treat the other badly can really affect you. If one parent is abusing the other, they are also abusing you. They are not making your home a safe or happy place to be.
- Abuse and violence is wrong. Many forms of abuse are against the law.
What's the difference between arguments and domestic violence?
All couples have arguments. But there's a difference between arguments and abuse. In a relationship that isn't abusive, both parents might argue, but they both still feel free to say what they really think. But abuse is when one parent bullies or frightens the other parent so they don't feel like they can say or do what they want to. Most often it's the male parent who is abusive. He may have the attitude that a man has the right to 'be the boss' and to dominate women. But this is not right - both parents should treat each other as equals.
SEE Steps to working it out. Or read Stories from others who have been through this.
Abuse towards young people and kids
Parents and adults in your family have a responsibility to look after you and care about you. Abuse is if they do things that hurt you or make you feel bad about yourself.
Forms of abuse towards young people and kids
Emotional abuse is when a parent (or another adult) constantly puts you down, calls you names, makes you feel like you're worthless, or always acts like they don't want you or don't care about you.
Neglect is when a parent doesn't look after your needs (like providing food, clothes, a safe home and medical attention).
- 'It feels like I'm not important. She says I'm stupid and I am always in the way, she wishes she never had me.'
Physical abuse includes when a parent or a family member hits, bashes, or physically injures you, or threatens to hurt you.
- 'When mum was off her face I'd have to take care of myself, even when I was a little kid. Lots of times there was no food in the house. I used to stay home a lot to look after her.'
Sexual abuse is when a parent, someone in your family, or someone else, makes you do sexual things (including touching your private parts, making you touch them or look at their private parts). They might trick you, pressure you, scare you, confuse you or threaten you so that you feel like you have to do these things.
- 'We used to know what was coming. A few times I even tried to hit her back.'
For more info on sexual abuse, see to About sexual abuse.
- 'I wasn't allowed to shut the door if I was in the shower. He had to be able to see me all the time.'
These forms of abuse can happen between brothers and sisters, too.
It can be confusing if sometimes your parents or family might treat you ok, then at other times they do things that hurt and upset you. But you never deserve abuse. You can do something about it.
SEE Steps to working it out, or read Stories from others who have been through this..
If you are worried about other family or relationship problems (eg; communication or conflict with parents, divorce, etc) see Links to family and relationship websites.
DVIRC acknowledges the use of a cartoon by Jon Kudelka, from Anglicare Tasmania's 'Let's Face It' project on this page.