Defining Violence

The Justice Department of Aotearoa New Zealand describes Domestic Violence as “An abuse of Human Rights”. They go on to describe what domestic violence is as:

Physical Abuse:

Nobody – including a husband, wife, partner or an adult who looks after children, is allowed to hit, punch, kick or in any way assault another person.

Sexual Abuse:

Nobody is allowed to have any sexual contact with another person without that person’s permission.

Psychological Abuse:

Can include intimidation, threats and harassment. Some examples of psychological abuse could include damaging property, allowing children to see or hear any domestic violence, controlling someone’s contact with friends as a way of having power over him or her.

(The Family Court, “Domestic Violence, Information on Protection Orders and the Domestic Violence Act” Brochure).

In the 1980s various women’s support groups at the Duluth Violence Intervention Project developed a model called the Power and Control Wheel. This was made up from stories that women were telling over and over again of the abuse that was going on in their homes.

Click here to view the *Power and Control Wheel diagram'


Assess my situation

Is My Relationship Abusive?

Does your partner or did your partner...

  • Criticise you, call you names or belittle the things you do?
  • Demand increasing amounts of your time, energy, attention or affection?
  • Insist on having his way on most issues?
  • Expect you to be with him constantly, and resent any time you spend pursuing your own interests or seeing other people?
  • Keep control over the money and give you an inadequate allowance?
  • Treat you with hostile silence and cold contempt for long periods?
  • Use punishing behaviour to manipulate you into complying with his demands?
  • Harass you or use standover tactics to get his own way?
  • Fly into sudden, irrational tempers for little or no reason, then blame these outbursts on you?
  • Frighten you by smashing possessions, or punching/kicking holes into walls?
  • Threaten to harm you or the people you love?
  • Threaten to commit suicide to hurt you?
  • Slap, shove, shake, pull your hair, kick, punch or spit at you?
  • Show excessive jealousy and accuse you unjustly of flirting or having affairs?
  • Coerce you into having sex when you don’t want to, or participating in sexual practices that you don’t feel comfortable with
  • Withhold having sex with you to humiliate you?
  • Constantly refuse to take responsibility for his destructive behaviour?
  • Deny events happened as they did, or turn them around so that he can blame you for them?
  • Withhold emotional support, even when you have a major crisis to deal with like a death in the family?
  • Make jokes at your expense or deliberately humiliate you in front of others?
  • Pretend to be kind and caring toward you in front of others but treat you badly when you are alone together?
  • Undermine your relationship with your children?
  • Deprive you of sleep by arguing late into the night?
  • Improve his behaviour if he thinks he may lose you but resume his abuse when he knows the danger is past?

If you have answered "yes" to some of these questions you may be feeling shocked, angry or frightened about what this means for you.

You may also feel a sense of relief.

(Extract from "Invisible Wounds" by Kay Douglas).


Am I safe?

If you are living in fear, having to watch your back, check every word you say, report on everything you do, you are not safe.

Safety is

  • physical
  • emotional
  • sexual
  • psychological
  • financial
  • spiritual
  • social

In a safe environment your physical safety is assured

In a safe relationship you are respected and valued.

In a safe relationship you are free to say no to sex without having this used against you

In a safe relationship your opinions and thoughts are respected

In a safe relationship you have equal access to and control over financial matters

In a safe environment your spiritual beliefs are respected

In a safe relationship you choose your friends and meet with them freely.

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