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violence; fighting; relationships; conflict;


    If you are in a situation of violence it is important to think of your safety now! You cannot change someone else's violent behaviour, only they can. If your situation is an emergency call the police. In South Australia Police Attendance Ph: 131 444.

So what is violence anyway? Sometimes people think it's the same as anger, it's not. And it's more than just physically hurting someone. Most people experience violence at some point in their lives, and for some, violence is something they have to deal with every day.

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What is violence?

Violence is not only physical assault. It is any action that is meant to make others feel hurt, scared, small or humiliated.

Violence can be:

  • Physical - The use of physical force, whether it injures someone or not eg holding, shoving, pushing, restraining, torturing, punching, biting, kicking, burning, hurting or killing pets, breaking possessions, using any kind of weapon etc.
  • Emotional/verbal - The use of threats, intimidation or put-downs eg speaking in a scary way; threatening to hurt or kill you or someone else; giving "looks" that make you scared; name calling; telling someone he or she is crazy or useless; saying things to purposely make others feel bad about themselves; bullying or harassment.
  • Sexual - Forcing, manipulating or doing sexual acts to someone when she or he does not want it. Eg. touching someone where they don't want to be touched, rape, demanding or tricking someone into doing sexual things, using objects, treating someone as a sex object.
  • Financial - Using money as a source of power over someone eg making someone dependent on you for money, forcing someone to beg or do other things for money, keeping control of all money matters, stopping someone from getting a job, selling others' things.
  • Social - The use of social life to control someone or make them feel bad about themselves eg not letting someone choose their own friends or doing it for them, being mean about someone's family or friends and making them feel unwelcome when they are around, insisting you do everything together, put-downs or pay-outs in public, being jealous and controlling about how and with whom you mix/spend time.
  • Spiritual - The use of religion, faith or cult beliefs as a form of control or to hurt eg preventing someone from keeping their own faith, forcing or manipulating you to participate in beliefs or ceremonies you don't want to, scaring or hurting you by the use of certain beliefs.

The effects

If you experience violence you may feel:

  • fear for your safety or well-being - (or others around you, eg children)
  • guilt or self blame for the violence - "I shouldn't have done…", "I shouldn't have said…"
  • shame - "What will other people think of me?"
  • jumpy, nervous or anxious - a tap on the back or a bang and you "jump out of your skin"
  • ANGER at your attacker or others for not protecting you - "you hurt me you #@%*!"
  • like making excuses for or playing down the assault - "it wasn't that bad", "they didn't mean to…", "this is because they were abused…"

You are never responsible for someone else's choice to act with violence. You cannot choose or change someone else's behaviour.

If you have used violence you may experience:

  • an assault or other criminal charge - violence is against the law
  • loss of friends, family, partners, job - violence ruins relationships
  • loss of respect and trust within relationships
  • fear or anxiety of the consequences of the assault - "Will she leave me?", "Will I have to go to jail?", "Will I lose my job?"
  • feeling out of control of your behaviour, feelings or your life - "I couldn't stop myself."
  • guilt, shame or disbelief of your behaviour - "I am a bad person for doing this."
  • anger at self or others for the violence
  • depression, feeling low - "Look what I have lost", "What have I become?"
  • a feeling of revenge - "They deserved it", "They were asking for it".

People choose to act in a violent manner. There are choices you (and only you) can make other than to hurt others or yourself. Violence can destroy lives and hurt people.

If you have witnessed or been around violence you may experience the following:

  • feeling unsafe and scared - "When will it happen next?"
  • fearing for your own and others' safety - "I hope mum is OK."
  • worrying about losing your father, mother, child or family - "Will my family break-up?"
  • uncertainty or insecurity about things around you - "I am scared all the time."
  • guilt or responsibility - "I caused or could have stopped the violence."
  • anger toward those who attacked or those who did not protect you or themselves
  • depression or feeling helpless
  • pressure or stress related to legal action involved.

You, and others who experience violence, are never responsible for another person's violent behaviour. People choose to be violent. You and your safety are most important.

Where does it happen?

Most violence happens in homes or with people we know. This is the opposite to what the media often shows us eg the news often shows stories of women on the street being raped and murdered or grannies being bashed. Movies show punching, killing, and bombing etc. Of course these happen but most often we are presented an unrealistic view of violence to get us to watch the show. The more sensational, the more likely we are to watch it.

Statistics show that women are more likely to be the victims of sexual violence, but men are more likely to be victims of assault. More women report incidents of domestic violence, but it is suggested men who are victims do not always report domestic violence when it has happened. So violence can affect anyone in our society.

Young people say they have seen violence in many situations. Here are some examples:

  • parent and son/daughter - can happen both ways
  • boyfriend/girlfriend/same sex attraction - intimate relationships
  • defacto/wife/husband - it is estimated as high as 1 in 3 families experience violence
  • work, school, social life - sexist, racist, homophobic and other forms of violence
  • sport - on the footy field or basketball court, soccer violence
  • media - TV, movies, books or comics
  • public/street - stranger or gang
  • television /the news
  • violence in the workplace.

Why does it happen?

Violence or abuse can be a behaviour used to get power over other people and/or to try to look more powerful in other people's eyes. It can be an inappropriate expression of anger. We live in a society where there are power differences. If there is a power difference, or if people are seen to not "conform" or "fit in" to our society this can lead to others being violent towards them.

What are people called or what happens to them if they are not the one who is dominant or does not conform? How does it happen? Here are some ways that more powerful people can put other people down.


  • Called upstart, cheeky, naive etc.
  • Are smacked, hit, yelled at, told to shut up, (Child Abuse).
  • Are told they are to be "seen not heard" or they are to feel like a possession eg "You will do what I say, you are mine".
  • Older people being told they are useless or 'senile'.


  • Called stupid, thick, or other names.
  • Are harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against.


  • Use racist names.
  • Are harassed, assaulted, or discriminated against.


  • Called 'fagot' or 'poof'. Treated badly because they do not identify as male or female.

What else can you think of? Where do you see power differences? What do people, who are seen as "inferior", experience? What do people who act in a violent way get out of it?

Beliefs about violence

Our beliefs about violence affect the way we understand and act in all situations.
Many people who act in a violent way believe incorrectly that:

  • violence is acceptable and a good way to get what you want
  • violence is OK because people deserve it
  • they need to show they are more powerful than someone else
  • they are superior to someone else because of characteristics they have
  • violence is something that can not be controlled eg "I just lost it"
  • masculine is to be tough, powerful and in control
  • feminine is to be weak, powerless and need to be controlled
  • anger always results in violence.

Violence is never OK. It is a learned behaviour. It is a choice we make based on a belief we have. We always have non-violent choices. You are the only person who has control of your choices. If you feel you have tried everything, ask for help.
There are many, many people who have experienced what you are experiencing.

Everyone can make a difference by standing up to violence. If it is not safe for you to stand up to someone who is violent, you can stand up to violence by getting help, by getting out of the situation and by making yourself safe.

Drugs and alcohol

A common belief is that alcohol, marijuana or other drug use causes someone to become violent. While there are many studies to show alcohol and other drug use are strongly linked to violence, they do not cause someone to choose to act in a violent manner. Drug or alcohol use is often used to excuse violence.

Violence is never acceptable. It is against the law and can lead to charges being laid.
Think of people you know who get drunk or stoned and don't get violent. Why is it they are able to choose to behave in a non-violent manner? What do they believe about violence?

Is someone hurt?

If you or someone you know is being hurt by violence, safety is of utmost importance. Remember that you can't change someone's violent behaviour, only they can!

If you require emergency assistance call the police immediately. You may not be able to stop the violence but you can get help.

Here are some other tips:

  • If you are living with a violent person, it is a good idea to have a safety plan worked out. This might include hiding some money away, having clothes packed in a suitcase, or organising somewhere to stay. Think about things like credit cards, bank accounts, passports, marriage certificate and birth certificates. You cannot stop someone's violence and you therefore may choose to leave for your own and others' safety. You are responsible for your safety and the safety of any children who witness the violence.
  • If you are living in a situation of child abuse (where you are being abused, or a child is), tell someone you trust. Remember you are not the cause of the violence, it is not your fault.
  • Wherever you live, if you are concerned about the safety of yourself or someone else, contact the local police or community services agency.


South Australia

  • There are specially trained police officers who deal with violence in the home. Police Attendance in South Australia Ph 131 444. There are also crisis and domestic violence services to assist you.
  • Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway. Ph: 1800 800 098. 
  • If you have experienced rape or sexual assault it is important to think first of your safety. Remember it is not your fault, you are never the cause of violence. You could go to your local hospital or phone the Yarrow Place Rape and Sexual Assault Service Ph: 8226 8777, 1800 817 421 or after hours 8226 8787. 
  • Kids Helpline Ph: 1800 55 1800. 
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The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor or other health professional.
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