Domestic and family violence

Domestic and family violence

Domestic and family violence teaser

03 Jul 2017

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
  • 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 and family violence
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 the way the 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 relationship
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. Be careful that the person abusing you does not find your written preparations or packed bag.
  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?
  • You can apply for a protection order (also known as a restraining order or AVO) through a solicitor or the police. The protection order can direct the abuser not to harm you, come near you, your children, home or workplace. You will need to show evidence of the violence and reason to believe it will happen again. Keep your own record of incidents and see a doctor if you have been physical or psychologically injured, so that a medical file is created. If your partner disobeys the order, you must report it and they can be charged with a criminal offence.
  • 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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