What can I do if I am in a violent or abusive relationship?
This page is currently under review and the content will be updated soon.
- Find supportive friends/family members
Have someone you can safely talk to while deciding and making changes. Break the isolation and reach out.
- Let go of feeling responsible
- Know your rights
- Contact a support group
- Look after yourself
- Do not judge yourself
- Recognise your strengths
Leaving the relationship
There may come a time when you want to leave. This can be a difficult decision and will need careful planning and support.
Why is it hard to leave?
There are many reasons why it can be hard to leave. For example, you may:
• Have a strong commitment to the relationship for cultural or religious reasons
• Still love your partner and hope for change
• Worry about the children’s wellbeing if the family breaks up
• Have lost confidence in your own judgment and feel unable to decide what to do
• Fear losing your home and financial security
• Have pressure to stay and ‘work it out’ from family, community or church
• Fear being blamed or rejected by friends
• Depend on your partner for daily, personal care
• Be pregnant and believe this will finally turn things around.
For all of these reasons, some people decide that remaining with an abusive partner is the best choice for them at the time. If you are in this situation it does not mean you have to remain silent or alone. Keep in touch with people who are supportive and review your situation regularly.
If you decide to leave
Leaving an abusive relationship often increases the level of violence.
The time leading up to and following the separation may be the most dangerous. It is important to have a safety plan that you have talked through with a trusted family member, friend or support worker.
If you are not escaping from immediate danger and you have time, you could pack an emergency bag of things to take with you. Be careful that the person abusing you does not find your written preparations or packed bag.
Things to take with you should include:
• Emergency numbers – 000 (national emergency number), local domestic violence crisis services, and friends and family
• A bag of clothing and toiletries
• A few of the children’s toys and blankets
• Important documents: bank account details; Medicare number; passport; immigration papers; driver’s licence; tax file number; children’s records; marriage certificate; birth certificates; your address book
• Other important items such as medication, prescriptions, car and house keys, credit cards and cash.
You can arrange for the police to be there on standby when you leave to ensure your safety or to return to the house with you to collect your possessions later on.
What are my rights?
Everyone has the right to live without fear. In addition, physical or sexual assault, threats of violence and stalking are against the law in Australia.
You can apply to the police or a solicitor for a protection order (also known as an apprehended violence order (AVO), intervention order or restraining order). The protection order can direct the abuser not to harm you, come near you, your children, home or workplace. You will need to show evidence of the violence and reason to believe it will happen again. Keep your own record of incidents and see a doctor if you have been physically or psychologically injured, so that a medical file is created. If your partner disobeys the order you must report it and they can be charged with a criminal offence.
You may sometimes have the legal option to stay in your home and take action against your partner, so they are removed and ordered not to return. You may also be able to access:
• a Centrelink crisis payment to help you with immediate financial difficulties
• financial compensation from Victims of Crime
• free counselling through Victims of Crime or another community-based organisation
• emergency accommodation
• increased security measures at home.
The abusive partner can also access counselling, crisis accommodation and support.
Each State and Territory has different processes, so it is important to get professional advice. Free legal services are available from community legal centres and other organisations.
Download our domestic and family violence factsheet.