Family violence

Family violence is any behaviour, that in any way, controls or dominates a family member and causes them to feel fear for their own, or other family member's safety or well-being.

It can include physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, emotional or economic abuse, and any behaviour that causes a child to hear, witness, or otherwise be exposed to the effects of that behaviour.

Broad family, past relationships and 'family-like' relationships are included in the law (Family Violence Protection Act 2008).

What to do

Download the Family violence fact sheet.

Take these steps only if you feel it is safe to do so:

  • Leave the abusive relationship or situation.
  • Consider seeking crisis accommodation.

Immediate assistance

If you or someone you know is unsafe or needs immediate assistance, for example if you are hurt or injured, call for help as soon as you can:

  • On campus – Security 9919 6666 (24/7).
  • Off campus – Police & Ambulance 000 (Triple Zero).

Increase your personal safety

  • Program emergency numbers in your phone.
  • Make a safety plan, including family and friends phone numbers, and safe locations you can go.
  • Use incognito browsing on your internet browser if you don't want your history to be viewed.
  • Keep cash and important documents hidden in a safe place if you need to access them quickly.

Seek advice and support

  • Speak to a trusted friend, family member or neighbour about the behaviour for support.
  • Ask trusted people not to convey your location to the person.
  • Report the behaviour or seek advice, assistance and support from the University:
    • Report an incident to campus security.
    • Safer Community provides advice, assistance and referrals, including appropriate safety arrangements.
    • Counselling provides free and confidential support for students call 9919 5400 for an appointment.
    • Advocacy provides independent representation and assistance with University processes, including special consideration.
  • Seek help from a professional support service, such as National Sexual Assault Domestic Violence Service on 1800 737 732.
  • Seek advice and assistance from a professional support services to provide information, advocacy and support, such as Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.
  • Seek legal advice about your rights and options.

Record and report the behaviour

  • Keep and date a record of all incidents.
  • Keep and date any evidence of the behaviour, including emails and messages, photos, and medical records.
  • Report the behaviour to the Police to investigate.
  • If you receive a threat of physical harm or feel concerned for your immediate safety, report to the Police immediately.
  • Consider if applying for an intervention order is right for your situation; it forbids the person contacting or approaching you, but know the risks, it does not deter all perpetrators of family violence.

Supporting someone experiencing family violence

If someone you know experiences family violence you should seek professional support.

Some strategies to help support someone who has experienced family violence:

  • Talk alone and in a safe place.
  • If you want to raise the issue, do so by expressing your concern for their wellbeing.
  • Believe what they tell you.
  • Make it clear the perpetrator is responsible, not them.
  • Listen non-judgmentally and non-critically.
  • Ask them what you can do to help.
  • Discuss their options, including organisations that can help, but do not tell them what to do.
  • Support their decision, even if they choose to stay in an abusive relationship.
  • If they or a child is in immediate danger you should contact Police (000).
  • Do not confront the perpetrator.

Domestic Violence Resource Centre: guide for family and friends.

Statistics about family violence

 Infographic text on page

Globally, 1 in 3 women experience violence by a partner.

Family violence in increasing

  • 2010 – 35, 000
  • 2012 – 50, 000
  • 2014 – 65, 000

Who’s more at risk?

  • Indigenous women – 3 times as likely
  • Women with disabilities – 37% more likely
  • Younger women – twice as likely
  • Pregnant women – twice as likely
  • A child is present at 1 in 3 incidents of family violence

Who are the perpetrators?

  • 80% male
  • 20% female

Men’s experience of family violence

  • 1 in 3 victims of partner violence are male
  • 4% of men experience partner violence

What is the impact of family violence?

  • Deaths from family violence occur approximately 1 in every 7 days for women and 1 in every 10 days for men.
  • Victims have a higher risk of physical and mental health conditions.
  • Family violence costs the nation annually $14 billion.

Large infographic: family violence

Developed by Safer Community, Victoria University

Sources: ABS, 2012; DVRVC, 2014; The Lookout, 2013; VLRC, 2006.

Family violence resources

Family violence fact sheets

University policies relating to family violence