Communities and Justice

I'm from a different culture and experiencing domestic violence

The man is head of the family in my culture

You may have moved here from a country where the husband or oldest male is the head of the family.

If your husband, fiancé, father, brother or other male in your family is:

  • hitting or hurting you
  • saying they will hurt you or kill you
  • insulting you and calling you bad names

then you are experiencing domestic and family violence.

He may have told you that you deserve the violence and abuse, but you don't deserve it.  Domestic and family violence is wrong and is against the law in Australia.

Abuse and violence between husband and wife or between family members is a crime. Forcing you to have sex when you don't want to – even if you are married – is also a crime.

A person who is abusive and violent to their spouse or other family member could go to jail. Here, men and women have equal human rights – even if you are not an Australian citizen. You have a human right to live without violence and without fear.

Domestic and family violence is a crime

Sometimes it is a female member of the family who is being abusive and violent. A person who commits domestic or family violence can go to jail, whether they are a man or a woman.

Here are some more examples of domestic and family violence:

  • punching, hitting, kicking, pushing or throwing things at a person
  • stalking and harassing
  • being forced to have sex or perform sexual acts (this is sexual assault)
  • making threats, insults and put-downs
  • controlling who you see and what you do
  • controlling the money
  • he says he's allowed to hurt you because of your culture or religion
  • he doesn't let you have a phone or look at the internet

Domestic and family violence includes verbal, psychological, emotional, financial, physical, sexual and religious. It also includes:

  • reproductive abuse - not being in control of whether you want to have a baby or not
  • image-based abuse - being forced to look at pornographic images or films, or having sexual photos taken without your permission

Read more examples about the different types of domestic and family violence.

You may also want to read about how to know you are experiencing domestic violence.

Hurting or abusing children is also a crime

Children also have rights, even if they are not a citizen of Australia.

A child or young person who sees or hears their father, other male or other person in the family, be abusive and violent towards their mother or other family member is experiencing domestic and family violence. This is also a form of child abuse.

Hitting or hurting a child is also a form of abuse and is against the law in Australia.

Children and young people are protected by law and any abuse has to be reported to the Child Protection Helpline.

Child Protection Helpline - 13 21 11

I am not an Australian citizen

If you came to Australia on a temporary partner or spousal visa and were told that you will be forced to return to your home country if you leave your violent and abusive husband, fiancé or partner – this is not true.

If you are a victim of domestic and family violence, you do not have stay in your relationship or marriage. You can apply to stay in Australia on your own.

The Migration Act (1958) says that if the marriage or relationship breaks down because of domestic or family violence, then the victim (the person who is being abused) can apply for permanent residency in Australia.

Information and a factsheet about family violence and partner visas is available from the Australian Department of Social Services website.

I am being forced to marry

Forced marriage and underage forced marriage is a crime and is against the law in Australia.

Forced marriage is when a person, or both people, marry when they don't want to. Underage forced marriage is when someone under the age of 18 is forced to marry. Under Australian law, children under 18 can't give their permission to marry.

Children aged 16 and 17 can only marry if they have the permission of the Court and their parents. No person under 16 can legally marry in Australia under any circumstance.

If you think a child is being forced to marry, get help. Call the Child Protection Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Child Protection Helpline - 13 21 11

If you or someone else is in danger right now, call the Police on 000

There is information about forced marriage and underage forced marriage in different languages such as Arabic, Urdu, Nepali, Dari, Farsi, Hindi, Amharic, Dinka, Bengali and Somali. You can download them from the Forced marriage page.

The Australian Department of Home Affairs also has multilingual resources.

Support services

My Blue Sky

My Blue Sky, funded by the Australian government, is the first website on the prevention of forced marriage. It has helpful information, legal advice and referrals for girls aged 7-13, 14-18 and women. It has a free legal service and advice hotline.


1800 Respect is a national hotline for information and support for those experience sexual assault or family violence. You can call at any time. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What you can do

Translators are available free if you are not confident speaking English.
Translating and Interpreting Service - 13 14 50

For counselling and domestic violence help

If you are a victim of domestic and family violence, there are services, support and protection available for you.

If you are worried that you will be forced to return to your home country or you need to talk to someone about your rights in Australia, you can talk to a trained counsellor on the NSW Domestic Violence Line. It is a free service and is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For help with immigration law

For advice and help with immigration law where there is domestic and family violence, you can contact the following services:

Immigration Advice and Rights Centre Inc

Provides free immigration advice and representation to refugees and financially disadvantaged immigrants in New South Wales. You can make an appointment to talk to someone about legal advice.

Immigrant Women's Health Service

The Immigrant Women’s Health Service provides help to immigrant and refugee women. They run workshops, support groups and a free Women’s Health Clinic.

Immigrant Women's Speakout

Provides domestic violence support, advocacy, information, referral and research body representing the ideas and issues of immigrant and refugee women in NSW. It is a community-based organisation managed by women from different culture and language backgrounds.

Immigrant Women’s Speakout
(02) 9635 8022
PO Box 9031, Harris Park NSW 2150

Interrelate Family Centres

Provides family support, including support for multicultural families. Interrelate has 10 major regional locations across NSW and 26 outreach locations in the broader community. For more information on a specific region visit the website or call.

Legal Aid NSW

Legal Aid NSW helps people with their legal problems. Their legal services include legal advicehelp at court and family dispute resolution. This includes domestic and family violence issues and they offer a number of specialised services.

Last updated:

16 May 2023