Family Domestic Violence

Family or domestic violence has no victim profile. Anyone, anywhere, regardless of age, gender, culture, or community can experience it. Abuse can be physical, emotional, financial, verbal, sexual, cultural or social (controlling your movements, relationships). It can be difficult for someone in an unhealthy relationship to recognise it is one, or for those who have recognised it to leave. A supportive friend can help with this realisation, help practically to get to a safe place or emotionally support someone escaping a situation of violence.

What it feels like

Someone close to you, that you trust, making you feel afraid, powerless, and unsafe. You feel disrespected, afraid to be yourself, to disagree, to voice an opinion, to negotiate. Your access to money, friends and family may be being controlled and you may feel like you are under constant surveillance.

What you can do to support in the first 24-48 hours: 


  • Get in touch in a way that ensures complete confidentiality to let them know you want to help 

  • See if they want to talk about how they’re feeling - be there, listen without judgement

  • Find out their intentions, do they want to stay in the relationship or do they need help to escape?

  • Check in on their situation regarding: Access to food, water, shelter, access to a mobile phone and emergency savings (relevant if they want to escape)

  • You may be able to tell your friend is in an abusive relationship but they may not have realised it themselves, or they may be unwilling to admit it. It is important to respect their decision and remain supportive and involved until they are willing to take action.

Providing Support 

Getting out of a violent relationship can be difficult. Victims are usually isolated from friends and family, psychologically beaten down, financially vulnerable and in fear of physical harm. You can help by keeping in touch and encouraging others to do the same, and helping your friend improve their confidence and self esteem.


It is important to handle any situation involving domestic violence sensitively. You should make sure any communication with your friend is completely confidential, held in private. If you suspect their partner to be monitoring your friends devices then refrain from sending any messages or e-mails or having the conversation over the phone about offering help. There is potential that an offer of help could put the victim in more danger of further abuse. 

Emotional Support
  • Let them know you care

  • Let them talk about how they feel

  • Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future

  • Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Help your friend make a safety plan –

  •  Identify the abuser’s red flags/signs they are getting upset and likely to become violent. 

  • Come up with some believable reasons to leave the house (at day or night) if feeling scared.  

  • Identify safe areas of the house: rooms with exits, ample space and without things that could be used as weapons. Rooms with a phone or window/door leading outside are ideal. 

  • Make a codeword or phrase that you can tell their children, friends, neighbours, or co-workers to let them know to call police.

  • Prepare for a quick escape should it be needed – keep emergency contacts, car keys, cash, clothing, medication and identity documents in an accessible location or at a friends.

  • Help with documenting evidence of abuse

  • Assist them with escape/transport to safe shelter

  • Make arrangements for pets and children – ensure they are not left with the abuser and someone can take them in. Ensure the abuser is not listed on any contact information (with a child’s school, or on a pets microchip) so they are not able to access the child or pet.

1 Week on what now?

Escaping from domestic violence can be as scary as still being in that situation. Victims may fear retaliation, stalking and abuse long after they’ve left, and feel unsafe and vulnerable. They may miss the happier days in their relationship, feel like their ex will change or believe they have, and may want to go back to them. It’s important to keep close to your friend so you can help them in the long term.

Providing support in the long term
  • Keep in touch, let them know you want to help

  • See if they want to talk about how they’re feeling - be there, listen without judgement

  • Help challenge any unhelpful thoughts or beliefs – if they say they think their ex will change, remind them of all the times they said that before and didn’t

  • Make sure they’re all set up with access to food, water, shelter and savings

Emotional Support

Emotional support in the aftermath of a violent relationship is vital to help re-establish self-esteem, confidence, and allow them to heal.

  • Let them know you care

  • Let them talk about how they feel

  • Talk through their worries, concerns and plans for the future

  • Let them know the ways you are able to support them (emotional, practical, financial)

  • Encourage them when they are attempting to move forwards

  • Encourage them to keep up regular social events and hobbies

Practical Support
  • Help with documenting evidence of abuse

  • Help them get in touch with women’s shelters and programs that may provide assistance getting a new life set up, support groups and counselling

  • Assist them set up their new life: finding housing, setting up utilities, bank accounts and credit cards, new phone number, PO Box, changing addresses and identity documents

  • Assist with accessing security such as cameras for their house or other security devices so they can feel safe in their home. There are government funded and special schemes to provide women escaping violent situations to access security. 

  • Accompanying them to appointments for professional help – counselling, financial advice

  • Those in an abusive relationship might be under a lot of surveillance and be unable to search for things on their devices without fear of being found out – you may be willing to do these searches and collate information for them

  • Help the victim get comfortable with a new routine: identify new stores, social spots, routes and methods of transport not known to the abuser

  • Assist with taking kids to/from school and routine activities that the abuser would know

Who can help?
Service that can help

Anglicare WA

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB)

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Financial Counselling Network

Phone

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Moneysmart

Phone

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Relationships Australia

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Service Directories

Ask Izzy

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

WA Connect

Avenir Light is a clean and stylish font favored by designers. It's easy on the eyes and a great go to font for titles, paragraphs & more.

Professional Helpers

Counsellor

Description

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioner

Description

Financial Counsellor

Description

General Practitioner (GP)

Description

Mediator

Description

Psychologist

Description