What domestic violence is

Domestic violence refers to violent behaviours among intimate partners and family members, in which abusers, with their own power and status, aim to predominate over the other by means of physical assault, psychological abuse and sexual coercion, social isolation, economic sanction and threatening.

Domestic violence is not a single event but repetitive and constitutes a behaviour pattern of the abuser. Sometimes, abusers are apologetic after violent incidents but when conflicts and problems arise again, violence will burst and it will turn out to be a vicious cycle.

People of different genders, sexual orientations, religions, ethnicities and education levels are possible to be subjected to domestic violence.

According to the figure from Social Welfare Department, about 80 per cent of the victims in domestic violence are female. This reflects in a certain extent that the traditional patriarchal concepts still exist in current social culture.


Gender-based perspectives

In an androcentric patriarchal society, women are given the duty of taking care of the family. Such form of division of labor undermines the economic status of women and thus their social influence. On the other hand, women are confined to the traditional regulations of “Obedience to husband after marriage” and “Three Obediences and Four Virtues”, resulting in a marginalization of women’s uniqueness and individuality. Not only in society does stereotypes of women behaviour exist, value judgement among women themselves is also influenced and shaped.


Domestic violence derives from “Power and Control” – the imbalance courted by social culture and power structure which inevitably affects families. With empowerment and status, male impose predominant behaviours on female. With framed family roles and a lack of resources, women are in a vulnerable situation in case of domestic violence and more concern and support from society are necessary.



As women are often suppressed and marginalized in family and society, services of empowerment are crucial in support of abused women by refuge centres for women, which include respecting individual values and autonomy of women, providing resources and opportunities, helping women discover and utilize their own internal resources so as to regain autonomy in daily life.


Identifying violence

Abusive behaviors do not necessarily refer only to physical contact but other forms including psychological and sexual abuse. In fact, many abused women suffer from mental trauma and disturbances which bring great impact to themselves and their children.

Following questions are to help you review whether you are under domestic violence from your intimate partner:

  • Do you fear your partner?
  • Is your partner jealous and predominant?
  • Does your partner stop you from contacting your family and friends and make you feel isolated?
  • Does your partner often require you to report your routine?
  • Does your partner restrict your dressing such as clothing and hairstyle?
  • Does your partner control your money usage or even not provide you with family expenses or forbid you to work outside?
  • Does your partner often insult and criticize you and make you feel worthless and useless?
  • Does your partner criticize you as his burden which must   depend on him to make a living?
  • Does your partner threaten to bring the children away and not to give you the custody of the children?
  • Have your partner ever expelled you from home?
  • Does your partner threaten you not to tell others about your family?
  • Have your partner ever used violence against you, for example, pushing, slapping, punching and kicking, or assaulting with weapons?
  • Have your partner ever damaged furniture or your belongings?
  • Have your partner ever threatened to harm you or your family members, or of his self-harm or suicide?
  • Have your partner ever forced you into sex with him without your consent or even used violence to do so?
  • Do you suit your partner out of fear?

Frequently asked questions

Q1 Where can I seek help?

You can go to the Integrated Family Service Centres / Integrated Services Centres in your district and seek help from the social workers on duty as well as the 24-hour Hotline of Po Leung Kuk Women Refuge Service at 81001155. Staff on duty are willing to listen to your needs, helping to analyze the situation, providing information and setting up safety plans.


Support Programme for Victims of Family Violence, operated by Po Leung Kuk Tsui Lam Centre, will provide information of related legal proceedings and social support service, emotional support and escort service as well as protection to abused spouse/cohabiting partner and children to minimize their fear during the justice process and to help them resume normal life. Please dial 28948896 for any inquiries.

Q2 Why does domestic violence happen on me? Have I done anything wrong?

For any reason, no one should be subjected to violence. The main cause for domestic violence is the unequal relationship between you and your partner in which your partner chooses to predominate you with violence, to harm your self-esteem and even to makes you doubt yourself and feel helpless. It is in fact your partner’s fault and he must take his responsibility for such selective violent behaviour. You can try to tell people you trust about what you are facing or contact us at 81001155.


To break silence is the first step towards resolution.

Q3 If I report to the police, will they accept?

Domestic violence can constitute a criminal offence. Receiving a report, the police are responsible for ensuring your safety and conducting an investigation. You can demand a separate statement-taking from your partner, an examination in hospital and a referral to social worker. The police will also provide you with a report reference and a Family Support Service Information Card (Pol. 1130c) in which relevant welfare information and social services are introduced for your reference. Please keep the information card in case.

Moreover, you can apply for an order from the court through civil proceedings to restrain your partner from molesting.

Q4 After leaving home, where can I go?

If you are greatly disturbed or even your personal safety is threatened keeping on living with your partner, you can choose to separate temporarily. Your first priority should be the safety of yourself and your children. There are 5 refuge centres for women in Hong Kong providing free short-term accommodation for abused women and their children. Each centre has established a 24-hour Hotline to arrange accommodation for people in need.


If you decide to leave your partner, bear in mind to do so under safe condition because your partner may be provoked for losing his predominance over you and intensify his violence, risking yourself and your family members.

Q5 After leaving home, how about my children?

Parents are responsible for taking care of their children, including providing protection and a safe environment to grow up. When domestic violence occurs, your children may blame themselves and they may be in serious helplessness for the inability or fear in expressing themselves. If their emotions are not appropriately handled, relationship with parents and social and learning performances are possibly further affected. Therefore, you can try to talk with your children to understand their thoughts and moods and to clearly deny their thoughts of attributing themselves to domestic violence and explain and adapt them to the changes in future life. In case of any difficulties, you can seek professional assistance from social workers.


If you decide to leave your partner not with your children, you must ensure they will be provided with appropriate care after your leave or you should bring them with you to ensure their safety. If you leave alone, you should understand your children’s need for connection with parents living away. For a healthy growth of children, parents should show their care even not living with them. Po Leung Kuk Child Visitation Service - “Life Journey with Children” can provide relevant assistance for you. Please dial 28948896 for further details.

Q6 What is a refuge centre for women?

A refuge centre for women is a temporary safe accommodation provided to women and their children under domestic violence or crisis. For safety reasons, the addresses of the centres are confidential.


There are currently five refuge centres for women in Hong Kong. Despite different locations and environmental designs, generally, basic daily amenities such as bedrooms, bathrooms, washrooms, kitchens, washing machines and etc are all offered. Besides, various kinds of visual-audio facilities, computers and toys are provided to cater for different needs. In general, these facilities are shared. Maximum accommodation duration is three months in which no fee is charged.

Apart from accommodation service, social workers in the centres also provide all kinds of support services of emotion and daily life.

Q7 I am a lesbian and my partner uses violence against me. Can I apply for accommodation in refuge centres for women?

Domestic violence is equally possible on same-sex partners but you may have other concerns. For example, you may worry about “Coming Out” when seeking help from others; or your partner may even prevent you from seeking help by threatening you with “Coming out” or claiming most helping organizations are anti-homosexual, resulting in your fear, isolation and helplessness. In fact, you are welcome to seek help from refuge centres for women. Staff have received relevant training and understand the concerns of homosexuals. Therefore, information you provide will be handled with care in accordance with the principles of confidentiality.

Q8 With what should I bring along to the refuge centres for Women?

If you have sufficient time and are under safe conditions, please bring your and/or your child(ren)’s identity documents, marriage certificate (if applicable), cash, keys of your home, common medicine, clothing, a mobile phone, your child(ren)’s school uniforms and books. The centres also provide emergency supplies such as brushing tools, clothing and food.

Last revision date: April 2024