Making changes can be difficult. If you feel like you are being controlled, manipulated or exposed to family violence, you will need support to navigate the situation.
Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating will help you to understand family violence in relationships and give you information that may be helpful when thinking about whether to stay in, or how to leave, an abusive relationship.
Please note this booklet is not intended to replace professional support services and contains general information only. If you need immediate help or are in danger, call 000. For free and confidential information, advice and safety planning or to talk to a trained counsellor, call 1800RESPECT 24/7 on 1800 737 732.
Who should read this guide?
Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating is intended for anyone who believes they may be experiencing physical, psychological or emotional violence in the home.
Family violence is a deliberate act and rarely an isolated event. Over time, the violence tends to increase in frequency and severity.
Family (or domestic) violence is a pattern of behaviour where one person tries to dominate and control the other. It can include a range of behaviours, including:
- Physical abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Social abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Spiritual abuse
This guide will help you recognise and identify the different types of abuse, with practical examples of each.
Is family violence always physical?
Family violence is not always a physical act. Coercive control is a more subtle type of abusive behaviour. This is a pattern of controlling and manipulative behaviours in a relationship. Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating provides examples of the 12 signs of coercive control, including:
- Isolating you from your support system
- Monitoring your activity throughout the day
- Denying you freedom and autonomy.
How can I tell if I’m experiencing family violence?
If you feel like you’re experiencing family violence, you’re not alone. One in four women has experienced violence and abuse by a current or former partner.
Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating includes an 11-point checklist, which will help you assess your own situation.
Different kinds of family violence
Different people experience family violence in different ways. They may need different types of support. Our guide offers information that is tailored for specific groups, including:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women
- People who identify as LGBTQIA+
- Women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds
- Women with disabilities.
Children and family violence
Violence and witnessing violence affects children of all ages and can influence how they deal with conflict throughout their lives. They may even come to believe that violence is a normal part of an intimate relationship.
Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating will help you recognise warning signs of trauma in your children, and provide the right advice on how to support and protect them.
Practical tools and resources
Our guide provides the practical tools and resources you need to navigate the system if you believe you are experiencing family violence, including:
- How to get a domestic or family violence order
- Writing your own safety plan and preparing an ‘emergency suitcase’
- How to discuss your safety plan with your children
- What to do if you require a safe house
- Discussing the situation with your employer and colleagues
- How to protect yourself when using technology and social media
- Parenting after separation – putting together a parenting plan and applying for Parenting Orders through the Family Court.
If you need further support
Safe From Violence: A Guide for Women Leaving or Separating will link you with the right services for extra support. These include national and local services such as:
- Family violence support
- General advice resources
- Emergency contacts.