Everyone in a family needs to feel safe and have relationships that are supportive, nurturing and trusting.

Family violence is when a family member is abusive towards others. As well as physical assault, it includes sexual violence, emotional abuse and controlling behaviour. It can be very unsafe and frightening for those involved.

  • Physical abuse – assaulting an adult or child. Includes hitting, punching, kicking, using a weapon, slapping and pulling hair.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse – includes verbal abuse, threats, intimidation, damage to property, allowing children to see or hear domestic violence, and controlling someone’s contact with friends.
  • Sexual abuse – includes forced sexual contact without a person’s permission, sexual harassment and inappropriate touching.

Family violence is a health issue. Any experience of family violence can result in physical and mental health consequences for victims, perpetrators and children who are witnesses. Exposure to family violence increases the likelihood of other health risk-associated behaviours: smoking, substance abuse, overeating and unsafe sex.

Getting help

If abuse is happening in your family or you’re worried about someone else – a friend, neighbour, workmate or child’s friend – then get help now.

Call the Family Violence Information Line  0800 456 450.

They’ll put you in touch with organisations in your area that can help. The information line is available seven days a week, from 9 am to 11 pm.

Find out more from the Ministry

Family violence  

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