Domestic violence is when one person in a relationship hurts the other person. The violence and abuse can be physical, verbal, sexual, social, economic, spiritual and psychological.
What are the signs of domestic violence?
Violence and abuse can take many forms. Here some examples:
- Physical – hitting, slapping, causing pain to your body. You don’t have to have marks or bruises on your body for it to be physical abuse.
- Psychological – shouting, screaming, verbal put-downs, embarrassing you in front of others, being ignored, constant criticism, threats to harm you.
- Economic – pressuring you to give over control of your money and finances, refusing to pay for things you need, preventing you from having your own money, making you pay for things you don’t want, stopping you from working.
- Social – preventing you from seeing friends and family, not allowing you to do activities you enjoy, checking your phone/social media/email, telling lies to turn others against you, deliberately making you miss or be late for activities.
- Spiritual – preventing you from practising your religion, making fun of your beliefs, misusing religious beliefs to justify abuse.
- Stalking – sending repeated emails/social media messages/texts/voicemails, following you, sending unwanted gifts or leaving notes, showing up uninvited.
Sometimes the violence and abuse may be obvious, other times less so. You can ask yourself these questions:
- Do you feel safe in your relationship?
- Does your partner insult, criticise and demean you in public?
- Do you feel like you are always ‘walking on eggshells’ when you are around your partner?
- Does your partner stop you from doing the things you like to do? (E.g. visiting family and friends)
- Does your partner threaten you?
- Do you feel like you are in an abusive relationship?
- Are your partner’s needs the only ones being met in the relationship?
There isn’t a typical experience – violence in relationships can have many different types of abusive behaviour.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, there are a range of emotions you might be feeling including helplessness, shame, guilt, and despair. Domestic violence is never acceptable, and it’s not OK for someone to hurt you. If you are being abused, you can reach out for help.
Let someone know what is going on – you can confide in someone you trust and tell them about your situation. Talking about it can help reduce your feelings of isolation and helplessness. The person can be a friend, family member or be a specialist such as a counsellor. Whoever the person is, it needs to be someone who will listen to you carefully as you work out how to manage the situation.
Report it – you can talk to someone in authority (GP, lawyer, police) who will help you to take the next step. If you are in danger, call 000.
Develop a safety plan – this plan is a course of action you will take if you think there is an imminent risk of violence or harm. Things that can go into your plan can include: Where will I go that is safe? How will I leave the house? Who needs to know I have activated the plan?
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are organisations who can help.
- 1800 Respect – counselling and resources
- MensLine Australia – counselling and resources
- Kids Helpline – counselling and resources
- Relationships Australia – counselling and resources
- Respect – resources and support service information
- White Ribbon – resources and local support service information