Family violence is when someone behaves violently to another family member.
It may be experienced within families, marriages, de facto relationships and lesbian relationships. It may be inflicted on adults and children or it may be between siblings or extended family members.
One woman is killed in Australia by a partner or ex-partner almost every week (Source DVRVC 2015)
Family violence is the leading contributor to death, illness and disability in women aged 15-44
Almost 40% of women continue to experience violence when separated from their partner
Verbal abuse, humiliation and isolation
Feeling afraid, unsafe and shame
Increased risk of harm in the first weeks
Many women will attempt to leave a number of times before finally separating and there are many reasons for this:
Estimated to cost to the economy each year
Present at 1 in 3 family violence situations
Names and details have been changed to protect client privacy.
Amal was referred to Kara House by the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service in early 2011 after she fled the family home with her two teenage daughters. Amal met her husband, a resident of Australia, in Lebanon in 2009, whilst he was on holiday. A year later they married and she moved to Australia with her daughters. Within months of their married life, Amal was a victim of domestic violence perpetrated by her husband and his former wife. Amal was sexually abused, financially abused and she was isolated. Several weeks later, unobserved by her husband, Amal and her daughters walked out of the house. A passer-by seeing the distressed family took them to a police station and three days later she was in Kara House. Amal could not speak English, did not have permanent residency, and didn’t know Australia or its laws and customs. She had no money, was responsible for two children, was homeless and could not return to Lebanon. Over the three weeks that Amal was in refuge, Kara House helped her to link into a GP, Centrelink, migration support, sexual assault counselling and legal aid. Kara House also provided Amal with food vouchers and material aid for 10 weeks before she was eligible for Centrelink income. She was taught basic living skills – how to catch public transport, where to shop, Australian money, the Court system. Amal and the children were transferred to a transitional property with the help of Kara House and her support continued. There were many court visits which impacted greatly on Amal’s health. She was linked into a psychologist. The children were enrolled into a language school and they commenced counselling. Amal and her daughters remained in transitional housing until 2014 when she was offered a property through the Department of Housing. Amal can now speak English, and she has permanent residency and she receives a benefit from Centrelink. Her daughters speak English and have continued on with their education. They are settled and they feel safe.
Sarah, an aboriginal pregnant woman, came to our service in late 2013. Sarah had two other children that were in Department of Human services care. Sarah had a long history of distrust with the system and believed her unborn child would be taken by DHS. As soon as Sarah came into refuge, she was linked in with the local doctor and pregnancy services to assist her with her birth. Kara House advocated with DHS for Sarah to be given a chance with her child. Sarah was put in a transitional property while pregnant and moved to a two bedroom property appropriate for when she gave birth. With stable accommodation, Sarah was able to successfully set up for the birth of her child. Sarah felt positive for her future. Sarah gave birth earlier this year to a healthy baby boy closely observed by Kara House and other services we had referred her to. This is including a close link to her culture through an Aboriginal Family Strengthening program. Odyssey House was also involved through the Kids in Focus program and worked intensively with Sarah to parent positively. Sarah is now attending young parenting groups and doing well. She also has access to her two other children – something that had seemed impossible 12 months prior. With stability and support she has been able to turn her life around.
Family violence is complex and each experience is difference.
Support of women and children who are in high risk of harm.
Identification of and support of women and children experiencing family violence as early as possible.
Population-based and community initiatives to educate and bring about social and cultural change.
Advocate that action is needed through legislation and policy change by governments and organisations.
Advocate for the rights of women and children to live in safety and without fear, using professional practice informed by feminist, human rights and social justice principles.
Safe steps is a state-wide Victorian not-for-profit service for women and children experiencing family violence. Women experiencing family violence can call 24/7 and speak confidentially to another woman for information about family violence support services, legal rights and accommodation options.
Our Watch has been established to drive nationwide change in the culture, behaviour and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children. They provide national leadership to prevent all forms of violence against women.
1800RESPECT is the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. They provide a confidential service 24/7 for people experiencing family violence, their friends and family and workers and professional.
The lookout is a place where Victorian Family Violence workers and women experiencing violence can come to find information, resources and services aimed at preventing and responding to family violence. It is also for families, friends and neighbours of women experiencing violence, as well as other professionals who support them in the course of their work.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only free, private and confidential 24/7 phone and online counselling service for young people aged between 5 and 25 years.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Domestic Violence Victoria is the peak body which provides independent information, research, publications and other resources to those experiencing (or have experienced) family violence. While also informing practitioners and service organisations who work with family violence survivors.
Beyondblue provides information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live.