Emotional and psychological abuse


  • Magistrates Court of Queensland, Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 Bench Book (2017).
    This Bench Book expands on the definition of emotional or psychological abuse in the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) (from [1.3.1], p11-14). In particular, it draws on judicial papers and case law to aid understandings of ‘intimidation and harassment’.


  • Judicial College of Victoria, Family Violence Bench Book (2014).

    Section - Emotional or psychological abuse defines this behaviour, providing a range of examples. Also see: section – Emotional or psychological abuse providing additional examples to demonstrate the various ways in which perpetrators of family violence abuse victims. For instance: ‘blaming the victim for all relationship problems; constantly comparing the victim with others, in order to undermine self-esteem and self-worth; sporadic sulking; withdrawing all interest and engagement (for example, weeks of silence); and emotional blackmail’.

    Further examples are provided in section – Additional Guidance – Common Risk Assessment Framework.


  • Department of the Attorney General (WA), Equality before the Law: Bench Book (2009).
    This Bench Book cites statistics establishing that: ‘The most commonly experienced controlling behaviours were incidents of name calling and put-downs, which were experienced by 28% of all women in current relationships’ []. It also notes: ‘Illustrating this point, submissions relating to this chapter of the Bench Book have defined domestic and family violence to include financial, emotional, psychological, sexual and spiritual abuse and refers to behaviours such as name-calling, control of contact with family and friends, control of money and rape within marriage. While not all these behaviours constitute “violence” in a legal sense, there can be little doubt that all can contribute to the fear experienced by victims of such abuse’ [13.0.6].


  • Neilson, Linda C, Domestic Violence Electronic Bench Book (National Judicial Institute, 2017).
    Emotional and psychological abuse are recognised, though not substantively expanded upon, as behaviours of domestic violence throughout this bench book (e.g. Sections 4.4.4,, Supplementary Reference 1), and as factors associated with risk (Section 8.8.1). It is suggested that ‘psychological abuse produces deeper, longer lasting scars than physical violence’ (Supplementary Reference 1), and that risk assessment tools may be ill-equipped to engage with this type of abuse (Section 8.9.2). Further, this bench book also recognises the interconnectedness of emotional abuse with other behaviours: ‘[e]motional abuse (e.g., threatening, intimidating, coercing, degrading, stalking) and financial abuse (e.g., interfering in ability to work by harassing employers or sabotaging transportation to work, controlling bank accounts and financial decisions, denying educational options, refusing to pay for necessaries of life, hiding or destroying property) and physical/sexual violence are interconnected phenomena. A pattern of emotional or financial abuse, associated with intimidation, domination and control, often escalates into physical or sexual violence’ (Section