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Domestic Abuse & Family Violence

Domestic & Family Violence

Domestic and family violence occurs when someone who has a close personal relationship with you makes you feel afraid, powerless or unsafe. It can be physical, but can also be emotional and psychological.

Anyone can experience domestic and family violence. It happens across communities, ages, cultures and sexes.

If you are experiencing abuse or violence it is not your fault. It is the abuser who is responsible. Domestic violence is a crime and the abuser is breaking the law.

Forms of Abuse and Violence back to top

  • Physical harm - threats of self/physical harm, smashing things, hurting pets

  • Emotional and psychological abuse - humiliation, put downs and blaming

  • Financial abuse - strict or unfair control of money

  • Verbal abuse - name calling, yelling

  • Social abuse - controlling where you go and who you see

  • Sexual abuse - and rape

  • Stalking - following, making excessive phone calls, texts or emails

  • Spiritual or cultural abuse - controlling practices or choices

Non-physical forms of abuse can be just as damaging as physical assaults. If you feel disrespected, unable to be yourself, afraid to disagree or negotiate for what you want, this may be a sign of abuse.

Effects of Domestic & Family Violenceback to top

There are serious negative effects for victims, families, children and communities because of domestic and family violence.

For Victims:

  • Fear

  • Depression

  • Shame

  • Anger

  • Use of drugs and alcohol to block pain

  • Suicidal thoughts

  • Injury or death

For Children:

  • Guilt, feeling they are to blame for the violence

  • Behaviour such as; aggression, low self-esteem, physical reactions like bedwetting, headaches, stomach cramps

  • Withdrawing from friends

  • Problems with school work

  • Being bullied or becoming a bully

  • Using drugs or alcohol

  • Self-harming

Witnessing or experiencing domestic/family violence can have a damaging effect on children. It is important that they get the support they need. Ensure they have access to someone they can talk to like Kids Helpline.

If you are worried about a child who is in a situation and may be in danger, contact your local child protection agency.

For Families:

  • Breakdown in way family functions

  • Household conflict

  • Frequent moving to avoid the abuser

  • Involvement by authorities like Police and Child Protection

For Communities:

  • Community conflict

  • Higher rates of drug/alcohol use

  • Children growing up without learning about positive relationships

How to leave a violent relationshipback to top

Deciding to leave a violent relationship is a difficult decision and requires careful planning and support. Everyone has the right to respectful, loving relationships and no one should live in fear.

  1. Find supportive friends - talk to someone you trust. Do not try to cope alone.

  2. Contact a support group - they can offer you direct help through shared experiences.

  3. Make a safety plan - include emergency numbers, pack clothing/toiletries, important documents, medication etc in case you have to escape quickly.

  4. Contact the police - when you decide to leave – the police can be on standby when you leave to ensure your safety or if you need to return to collect possessions later on.

  5. See a doctor - if you are feeling anxious or depressed. Consider talking to a counsellor/psychologist about how the experience has affected you.

  6. Recognise your strengths - to create a more positive life. Your skills and abilities helped you leave an abusive relationship and are signs of your capability under intense pressure.

If you need immediate help call 000

What are your rights?back to top

  • You can apply for a protection order (AVO) through a solicitor or the police

  • Centrelink crisis payments can help with immediate financial concerns

  • Free counselling is available through the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732

  • You may be eligible for emergency accommodation or increased security at home. Check with National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service for local referrals.

  • Free legal services are available through Community Legal Centres.

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