Domestic violence, sometimes called family violence, is against the law. You have the right to feel safe at home and you should never have to see or experience it. It is okay to complain and to talk to someone.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is when someone close to you threatens you or does something to harm you or someone else in your family.
Domestic violence can include:
- physical assault: punching, hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, choking, or using weapons;
- sexual assault: being forced to have sex or do sexual activities, either by watching or participating;
- emotional or psychological abuse: making you feel worthless, criticising your personality, your looks or the way you dress, threatening to disclose your sexual orientation, constantly putting you down or intimidating or tormenting you;
- economic abuse: taking control of the money, not giving you enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your money, not letting you have a say in how it is spent;
- damaging your property or harming your pets;
- threatening to do any of these things or
- any other abuse to control or dominate you: stopping you from seeing your friends and family, or isolating you from others.
This person can be someone in your family or can be your boyfriend or girlfriend, someone living with you, a relative, a parent or carer, or even your parent’s partner.
Domestic violence can happen to you, or someone else in your family, e.g. violence between your parents. If you see it happening to someone else in your family you should still report it.
You do not have to directly witness or be involved in violent episodes in order to be affected. For example you could be:
- Overhearing threats of physical abuse by one family member towards another family member;
- Seeing or hearing an assault of a family member by another family member;
- Comforting or providing assistance to a family member who has been physically abused by another family member;
- Cleaning up a site after a family member has intentionally damaged another family member’s property;
- Being present when police officers attend an incident involving physical abuse of a family member by another family member.
What can I do?
Domestic violence is unacceptable and if you see it occur or are a victim of it, you should report it. Everyone has a right to be safe from any type of violence.
If you or anyone else is in immediate danger of being hurt, call the Police on 000.
If you feel unsafe or are in danger you should also call the 24 Hours Child Protection Crisis Line on 131 278. Through the Department of Human Services, they can deal with the care and protection of young people affected by Domestic Violence. You can also call one of their regional numbers below.
If you feel unsafe in your home because of the violence that is happening, it is important to talk to someone. If you do not speak to anyone, or report what is happening, then no one will know what is going on and they can’t help you. You could talk to an adult you trust and feel comfortable with, like a family friend or your teacher. Below is a list of important contacts you can call if you need to talk to someone else.
What will happen if I report?
If you call the Police or the Crisis Hotline, information you give is kept confidential – the person who is causing the violence will not be told that you have contacted them. The Police or the authorities may investigate what is happening. If they are worried about your safety, a court order can be made preventing the person from hurting you such as a Family Violence Intervention Order.
(National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service)
Call 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800respect.org.au
They can provide 24 hour counselling, support and referral for anyone whose life has been impacted by sexual, domestic or family violence.
- Child Protection Crisis Line (Department of Human Services)
Call 131 278 or visit http://www.dhs.vic.gov.au/for-individuals/children,-families-and-young-people
You can also call one of the Regional Crisis Line below between 9am to 5pm:
Barwon South Western
1800 075 599
1300 360 391
1800 020 202
1800 000 551
1800 650 227
1800 675 598
Northern and Western
1300 664 977
Southern 1300 655 795
- Domestic Violence Resource Centre
They provide online information, resources, help & advice on issues of domestic violence.
- Bursting the Bubble
This is a website designed specifically for children and young people on issues of domestic violence.
For any legal questions you have, write us a Lawmail and we can give you free legal advice, information and referrals to local services. To send us a Lawmail, visit the Lawstuff website at www.lawstuff.org.au – then select your State or Territory’s Lawstuff page and follow the links to send us a Lawmail.
Disclaimer: This is legal information not advice specific to you. If you would like specific advice about a legal question, please send us a Lawmail.
This page was last reviewed in 2012.