Family violence: never OK
Family violence is never OK. If you’re experiencing family violence from your partner or ex-partner, it’s not your fault, and there are no excuses for it. Your partner or ex-partner is responsible for the violence and the way it affects you and your child.
Seeking support is the best thing you can do for your child, your family and yourself. With the right support, you and your child can recover from the effects of family violence.
What to do if you’re experiencing family violence
Seek support. This is the most important thing you can do if you’re experiencing family violence or you’re concerned about your wellbeing or your child’s wellbeing.
If you or your child are in immediate danger, call the police on 000.
Here are some ways to get support in the longer term:
- Speak to your GP, child and family health nurse, school counsellor or other health professional.
- Call the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or use their online web chat service.
- Call your state or territory parent helpline.
- Call Lifeline on 131 114, Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978, or use their online web chat services.
You could also speak to a trusted family member or friend for initial support.
You might be referred to specialist family violence services. Specialist family violence services can range from crisis accommodation, help with safety plans and protection orders to family violence counselling and survivor support groups.
Your child could also talk to a Kids Helpline counsellor by calling 1800 551 800 or using their online web chat services.
How family violence might affect you
When you’re experiencing family violence, it can hurt you in many ways – physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, spiritually, sexually and more.
There are signs that family violence is harming your health and wellbeing. For example, you might:
- have anxiety or feel stressed
- feel hopeless or depressed
- have problems sleeping
- use alcohol and other drugs to cope
- have physical injuries like broken bones.
Family violence can also make it harder for you to manage everyday family life, connect with your child and give your child what need to do well. For example, you might find that you:
- feel irritable or annoyed all the time, including with your child
- lack the energy for things like feeding your child, getting them to school, playing with them and managing their behaviour
- can’t care for your child, leave the house with your child, or be around other parents because of your physical injuries.
How family violence might affect children
To grow, develop and thrive, children need to feel nurtured, safe and secure.
In an environment where family violence is happening between parents, children can feel very unsafe. Children often know that family violence is going on even when they don’t see, hear or experience it directly.
Just knowing that your partner is hurting you is distressing and traumatic for children. So is seeing your injuries or caring for you after you’ve been abused. If your child is older, they might also feel responsible for protecting you and their younger siblings.
These feelings and experiences can affect children now and in the future. For example, children might:
- behave aggressively or be disobedient
- have problems managing their emotions
- find it hard to talk to or play with other children
- seem sad
- withdraw from friends and family
- have trouble eating
- wet the bed, have nightmares or have trouble sleeping
- experience depression and anxiety
- have learning difficulties or problems going to school
- experience bullying
- find it hard to make or keep friends.