Ritualistic, overwhelmingly violent bikie gang or cult-inflicted abuse of women, entrenched by co-opting third party cult or gang members, has been referred to as ‘domestic violence’, ‘intimate violence’ or ‘intimate partner violence’. The present article questions the aptitude of these terms to convey the realities of this violence, in light of the experiences of women attending a South Australian domestic violence service, all of whom were escaping violent partners who were members or associates of bikie gangs and cults. The paper asks, ‘is torture an appropriate term for such violence?’ and discusses the impact of social, legal, organisational and human rights parallel states that collaborate to make it almost impossible for these women to escape this violence and make it difficult for social workers to work effectively with them. The paper concludes that the State needs to adopt a human rights rather than legal focus when addressing the issue of violence against women. © 2006, Australian Association of Social Workers.