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Defining Violence

New Zealand’s Domestic Violence Act (1995) defines family violence as:

These behaviours are used to control physically, psychologically and sexually, eroding the positive sense of self of a victim(s). It covers a wide scope of interpersonal relationships such as intimate partners – in a relationship and/or married, and/or divorced – as well as nuclear and extended family members, siblings, and those living together e.g. flatmates and boarders.

A relationship includes:

  • Heterosexual (straight) relationships, either living together or apart
  • Gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender relationships
  • Adoptive or cared for by extended family/whanau
  • Families with gay or straight parents
  • Couples without children

What is family violence? Family violence covers a broad range of controlling behaviours, commonly of a physical, sexual, and/or psychological nature which typically involve fear, intimidation and emotional deprivation. It occurs within a variety of close interpersonal relationships, such as between partners, parents and children, siblings, and in other relationships where significant others are not part of the physical household but are part of the family and/or are fulfilling the function of family . Common forms of violence in families/wha-nau include: • spouse/partner abuse (violence among adult partners); • child abuse/neglect (abuse/neglect of children by an adult); • elder abuse/neglect (abuse/neglect of older people aged approximately 65 years and over, by a person with whom they have a relationship of trust); • parental abuse (violence perpetrated by a child against their parent); and • sibling abuse (violence among siblings).