24/7 Family Violence Response
1800 015 188 (Toll Free)
If you are in danger

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WHAT IS FAMILY VIOLENCE?

Everyone has the right to feel safe in their home and in their relationship.

Families and couples don’t always get along, sometimes it’s normal for people to argue.

But if someone in your family or your partner is consistently hurting, humiliating, controlling, threatening or frightening you or other people then this could be family violence.

Forms of Family Violence
They might use excuses like "it's your fault, you shouldn’t have done that" or "you know I'm under a lot of pressure from work."
There is no excuse for being violent
- it is simply not okay.

Family violence is abusive and intimidating behaviour used to maintain power and control over a family member or former or current partner.

Abuse can be emotional, psychological, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time.

Physical: hitting, slapping, shoving, restraining, biting, scratching, pinching, kicking, punching, pushing, burning, stabbing, shooting


Psychological and emotional: threats, intimidation, name calling, put downs, isolation, economic abuse (forcing a person to give up his/her wages or not letting him/her have access to money), abusing or using children or pets to create fear, stalking, harassing, guilt trips, blaming


Sexual: unwanted sexual contact – e.g. touching, rape, verbal harassment, making you do sexual things without consent that may hurt, make you feel ashamed, or bad, making you feel guilty if you say no to sex, not using contraception when you ask them to

You may be witnessing or experiencing family violence in your family home or in your own relationship.

How Does It Make you Feel?
"The main effect of the violence was that I started to change - I stopped being myself. I would avoid any conversation with friends when we were out that would have anything to do with my life before him, I didn't look at or talk to other boys."

When faced with violence or abuse someone may feel:

  • Frightened or nervous
  • Guilty or ashamed
  • Confused
  • Sad
  • Anxious or depressed
  • Sick, have headaches or stomach pain

These are normal responses to what is happening.
They are signs that you should get help.

Someone experiencing violence may also: 

  • Not want to eat
  • Not want to be with your friends
  • Not want to do school work
  • Want to run away or leave home
  • Begin to stutter or have trouble talking
  • Not be sleeping well and sometimes have nightmares
  • Worry about the safety of their family
Violence in the Home
"Growing up in a house where violence happened just seemed normal to me. There would be a little bit of yelling, things would be thrown about and Dad would hit Mum. She would cry and apologise and I would hide. It was a pattern. A terrible, horrible pattern that, night after night, I would wish would stop."

What is happening in my family?

Family violence can be very hard to understand because there is no single one reason why it occurs – it can be a combination of lots of things.

Family violence is different to family fights or arguments. In every family, it is natural to have disagreements with one another.

However, when this happens all the time and one person abuses another or others by hitting, punching, throwing things around or threatening to harm someone, it is family violence. This can be from your parents, other family members to each other, or towards you.

Unfortunately, family violence is common – in fact, one in four teenagers has seen physical violence by one parent towards another. Excuses are often used as a reason why one person abuses the other like ‘it’s your fault, you shouldn’t have done that’ or ‘you know I’m under a lot of pressure from work and you just keep putting me under more pressure until I snap’.

There is no excuse for being violent – it is simply not okay.

How you might feel

When living with family violence you can feel:

  • Uncomfortable and embarrassed about bringing friends back to your house, so you avoid doing this
  • Frightened to be away from home because you’re worried something bad may happen to your mum or another family member
  • You may feel afraid to go home, and avoid it as much as possible
  • You may feel that you are to blame and it’s you doing something wrong
  • Alone and unhappy
  • Tired and finding it hard to concentrate at school
  • Really scared, not knowing how bad the next fight might be
  • You want to try to stop the fights from happening
  • Frustrated because you don’t know how to fix the problem
  • You want to call the police or your neighbours for help but are scared
  • Sometimes it helps to write down how you are feeling. Locking up inside how you feel can be pretty tough. So if you think it is safe to do so, keep a diary or journal and write down how you are feeling. It’s important to keep your diary or journal in a safe place so that no one can read it except you.

 

Dating Violence
"Love is respect. Love shouldn't hurt. You have the right to your own ideas and opinions, to make your own decisions, and to be truly happy."

Teen dating violence is what happens in a dating relationship between teenagers when one person uses physical, emotional or sexual abuse to gain power and keep control over the other person.

Dating violence is not an argument once in a while. It is a continual pattern of abusive and/or violent behaviour.

Your relationship rights

You have the right:

  • To ask for a date
  • To refuse a date
  • To be treated with respect always
  • To choose and keep your friends
  • To tell your boyfriend/girlfriend when you need affection
  • To refuse affection
  • To change your mind at any time
  • To leave a relationship
  • To be treated as an equal
  • To refuse sex at any time for any reason
  • To feel safe, no matter who you are hanging out with!
Getting Help
"Unhealthy relationships often worsen over time. It's important to take steps early on to protect yourself. A safety plan is vital."

Who can you talk to?

If you feel that you or someone you care about is in danger call the Police on 000.

If you are worried about yourself or a friend you can:

  • Call safe steps on 1800 015 188, 24 hours 7 days per week.
  • Contact someone you can trust like a relative, teacher or school guidance officer.
  • Try to explain how you or your family has been hurt.
  • If the person doesn’t listen or doesn’t believe you, tell someone else.

How can you plan to stay safe?

  • Find a safe place in the house to go when the violence is happening.
  • Plan the best way to get out of the house quickly.
  • Ask a neighbour or friend who lives nearby to go to their house in an emergency. Make a plan for how to get there.
  • Make a list of people to call in case of leaving home quickly. Make sure their telephone numbers are written down in a safe place or in a mobile.
Technology Safety
"I used to think, 'it’s not that bad, at least they don't hit me'. Now I know abuse can take many forms and none of them are acceptable. I deserve better."

Computers, mobile phones, tablets and social media are great, but they can be used by a perpetrator of family violence to harass, stalk, abuse and control you.

There are a few things you can do to make sure you are safe.

  • Check and set privacy settings.
  • Get rid of any mobile phones the abuser gave you. If the perpetrator of violence has/had any access to your mobile phone or computer, it may not be safe to use. They may have installed spyware or tracking apps without you knowing, which would allow them to track everything you are doing online, as well as your location.
  • Make your password harder to guess. Replace characters for letters and use a mix of numbers and letters.
  • Consider changing any mobile phone number, email address, etc that the abuser knows so that the abuser can no longer contact you.
  • Keep a journal describing the abuse – a record with dates and descriptions of each violent incident. Save and keep track any abusive, threatening or harassing comments, posts and texts.
  • Do not accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know in person. Check with them that they sent you a request.
  • Sometimes, it may be necessary to create a new email, social media or instant messaging account.
Friends
"If it weren’t for my friends, I would have felt really alone and not strong enough to leave the relationship."

What if I know someone who
is experiencing this?

  • Approach your friend in a sensitive and caring way, be thoughtful and tell your friend that you are really worried about what is going on. Say why you are worried, such as, ‘I’ve noticed you don’t talk with your friends anymore.’
  • You can help your friend by listening and believing them.
  • Try to encourage your friend to talk to an adult they trust. This may be a parent, a neighbour or a teacher.
  • Let your friend know you think they are brave to be able to talk about what is happening and tell them that what is happening is not their fault and that they don’t deserve it. It’s good to let your friend know you are there for them and that they are not alone.

Friends

What shouldn’t I do?

  • Don’t suggest to your friend they are causing the violence. Remember it is never the fault of the person experiencing the abuse.
  • Don’t confront the abusive person because this can be dangerous. Instead, tell an adult or someone you trust.
  • Don’t gossip about what they have told you with other friends.

For young people living with family violence it can be really ‘full-on’.
Your support can make a difference.

Friends FAQ Photo
"In an unhealthy or abusive relationship, making justifications for a partner's behaviour is common. When your partner repeatedly makes excuses for how they treat you, it's normal that you may start making similar excuses."

Frequently Asked Questions

True Stories
Megan’s Story

Megan’s Story

Megan met her boyfriend when she was 15 while studying at secondary school. At first she thought the relationship was a loving and healthy one, but looking back on it now she realises she missed early warning signs that all was not well.
"He was always watching me and he was really jealous of anyone I talked to or hung out with. He would say to me: 'I know what you did and I know who you were with today.'
"It got to the point where I said to him you can't do this anymore, you can't tell me not to socialise with my friends. But he convinced me that he was only jealous because he loved me so much that he wanted me all to himself. So I stayed with him. Sure enough, it all got worse.
"He used to use his family against me. He isolated me. He warned me not to go anywhere without him. He knew my phone password and would grab it to check who I'd been texting or messaging on Facebook."
Soon the intimidation and abuse escalated into physical violence. "He pushed me, threw things at me…twisted my arm. One time, he even tried to strangle me.”
At first, Megan didn’t tell anyone about her situation. But then, when it all got too much, she confided in a teacher at school who helped her contact safe steps who gave her the advice and help she needed to finally break free of her boyfriend and devise a comprehensive safety plan to stay safe.
“Telling a teacher and getting in contact with safe steps was the best thing I could have ever done”.

Alish’s Story

Alish’s Story

Alish called safe steps for help after she was assaulted by her father. Alish had been promised in marriage to a much older man in another country by her father, who had also been controlling and abusive to her for as long as she could remember. Her mother and brother were also abusive toward her. The situation had escalated after Alish fought against her family’s plan to arrange her marriage overseas. Because her family were recent migrants, Alish was not eligible for support from Centrelink, and needed assistance with her residency and visa arrangements living away from her family. Her safe steps case manager organised this along with arranging emergency accommodation for her, helping her to continue her education, and referring her to a long term support service. Alish’s parents are now being investigated by the police, and she is living independently.

Ana’s Story

Ana’s Story

Ana was 17 years old when she came to safe steps for help. She grew up in an abusive household, where her father was extremely physically and sexually abusive to her. She had not seen her mother since she was a small child. As a teenager, Ana had begun to abuse drugs and alcohol as a way of coping, and was referred by her drug and alcohol counsellor at a time when she was at extreme risk and needed immediate help.  safe steps provided Ana with case management support and assistance, including safe and secure emergency accommodation with access to her counsellor.  When she left safe steps, Ana moved to her own long-term self-contained apartment with ongoing case management, outreach and drug and alcohol support.

About Us

safe steps Family Violence Response Centre is the statewide service for women and children experiencing family violence. We provide support 24/7 via our Family Violence Response Line on 1800 015 188.

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