Domestic and family violence for PLHIV: No excuse… ever.

domestic and family violence
Image: NAT

Domestic and family violence occurs in LGBTIQ+ relationships at approximately the same rates as in heterosexual relationships. Additionally, people living with HIV may experience specific types of abuse if they are in an unhealthy relationship. However, while living with HIV can cause stress and other problems, it is not a cause of, nor an excuse for, domestic and family violence.

Healthy relationships

In a healthy relationship, both partners feel free to say what they think and make their own decisions. In contrast, in an unhealthy relationship, one partner exercises power and control over the other.

Domestic and family violence involves one partner consciously manipulating and controlling the other. This does not necessarily equate to physical violence. Indeed, it includes any form of abuse used to maintain power and control. Other than physical violence, it can manifest as emotional, sexual, financial, social, verbal, psychological  and even technology-based abuse.

All forms of domestic and family violence are wrong. Non-physical forms of abuse such as psychological and financial are just as serious as physical abuse.

Domestic and family violence does not just ‘go away’. In fact, the severity of the abuse often escalates over time.

People living with HIV

A chronic illness such as HIV may pose additional challenges in a relationship. It should not, however, cause domestic and family violence.

Abusive people look for ways they can coerce their partner to gain power and control. In the case of someone with a chronic illness, their health can be used as another tool by their partner to undermine their self-esteem and maintain control over them.

In an unhealthy relationship, abuse can take a number of forms specifically relating to one partner’s medical condition:

  • The control of access to medication, medical treatment or support services.
  • Threats to deny further support or to leave.
  • An undermining of self-worth by describing a partner as ‘diseased’, ‘unclean’ or other inappropriate terms.
  • Threats to disclose to family, friends or employers regarding HIV status.


An unhealthy relationship does not exist in a vacuum. Therefore, an abusive partner can use the social stigma surrounding HIV against their partner.

They might threaten to ‘out’ them to family, friends or employers for their HIV status.


People living with HIV can access a range of support services if they find themselves in an unhealthy relationship.

People in unhealthy relationships can also talk to a trusted doctor, nurse, counsellor or other health care worker.

Additionally, in Queensland, people living with HIV can access support from Queensland Positive People (QPP). QPP is a peer-led advocacy organisation committed to the self-determination and empowerment of all people living with HIV.

QPP is a peer-based advocacy organisation committed to actively promoting self-determination and also the empowerment for all people living with HIV throughout Queensland.

Melissa Warner, CEO of QPP said, “The QPP Life + Program champions the meaningful involvement of people living with HIV through Peer Navigators. They also provide safe and confidential support for people living with HIV to access HIV care and treatment. Our clients are supported to link in with relevant professional domestic and family violence services.”

If you or someone you know is at risk of domestic and family violence:

Find more information about what a healthy relationship looks like at

Talk to a friend or family member you can trust.

Talk to a counsellor.

Develop a safety plan to protect yourself. Search ‘safety plan’ at for information.

Get in touch with a LGBTI Police Liaison Officer by calling PoliceLink on 131 444.
There are dedicated officers around the state and PoliceLink will identify a liaison officer in your area.

Support for all Queenslanders identifying as female is available from the DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811 (24 hours a day, seven days a week).

Support for all Queenslanders identifying as male is available from the DVConnect Mensline on 1800 600 636 (9 am to midnight, seven days a week).

Call Diverse Voices on 1800 184 527 (3 pm to midnight, seven days a week).
Diverse Voices is a peer to peer phone and internet counselling service focused on the diverse voices that make up our community.

QPP: a peer-based advocacy organisation committed to actively promoting self-determination and empowerment for all people living with HIV throughout Queensland. People living with HIV can self-refer for peer support
via the Queensland Positive People website via the website Chat link, by email to or call 1800 636 241 (business hours).

In an emergency call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the Police.

Thanks to our brand partner: Queensland Government

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domestic and family violence
Image Credit: NAT
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