Family violence intervention orders

A family violence intervention order protects a person from a family member who is using family violence. Family violence is harmful behaviour between family members that causes fear. It includes emotional and financial abuse, as well as physical violence and sexual abuse.

What is family violence?

Family violence is harmful behaviour by a person that is used to control, threaten, force or dominate a family member through fear. It includes:

  • physical abuse, such as hitting or pushing a person
  • sexual abuse, such as forcing a person to have sex
  • emotional or psychological abuse, such as controlling who a person can see and when
  • financial or economic abuse, such as controlling a person’s money without their consent
  • controlling behaviour, such as forcing a family member into a marriage.

Family violence is also behaviour that makes a family member fear for the safety of:

  • their property
  • another family member
  • an animal.

If a child hears, sees or is around family violence in any way, they are also covered by the law. This includes if a child:

  • comforts or helps a family member who has been physically or emotionally abused
  • sees property in the family home that has been damaged thorugh family violence
  • is at a family violence incident when the police arrive.

The police have to respond to all reports of family violence. They can act even if you don’t want them to because they must put the safety of you and your children first.

Who are family members?

When making an application for a family violence intervention order, family members include:

  • people who share an intimate personal relationship – for example, married, de facto or domestic partners – whether or not there is a sexual relationship
  • parents and children, including step-children
  • relatives by birth, marriage or adoption
  • people you treat like a family member – for example, a carer, guardian or person who is related to you within the family structure of your culture.

The law also protects a person from anyone who was a family member in the past, including ex-partners.