Family Violence

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What is family violence?                              

Family violence is a set or pattern of behaviours in which someone seeks power and control over you, causing you to feel threatened, worthless or fearful. Family violence can take many forms: 

  • It can be physical, psychological and emotional, economic, social, sexual or spiritual.
  • It can include behaviour that is violent, threatening, controlling, intimidating and isolating.
  • It can affect people from all ages, social, cultural and religious backgrounds, and people with a disability.
  • It can occur between family members, parents/carers and children, against elders, against pets, in marriages, de-facto relationships, same sex relationships, couples who are separated or divorced, and even within shared households.
  • In most cases, it is committed by men against a female partner or ex-partner.

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These questions may help you to understand whether you are experiencing family violence. Is someone:

  • Making you feel scared or afraid?
  • Yelling at you or saying bad things to you?
  • Putting you down?
  • Hitting, punching or pushing you?
  • Stopping you from contacting your family or friends?
  • Not giving you something you need like medication or food?
  • Controlling your money against your will?
  • Threatening to take or harm your children?
  • Harming or threatening to harm themselves or your pets?
  • Not letting you have your own belief system?

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Everyone’s experience of family violence is different so the type of help and support each person needs is different too. 

Violence against Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islanders

In addition to the signs of family violence listed above, a person might:

  • Stop you from practicing your culture.
  • Humiliate you, call you names or make fun of you including by using racial slurs.
  • Threaten that police or other services will not believe your reports.
  • Threaten to report you to Child Protection or have your children taken away.

For more information visit  Boorndawan Willam Aboriginal Healing Service   

Violence against people with disabilities

In addition to the signs of family violence listed above, a person might:

  • Control your access to mobility or communication tools.
  • Control your access to medication or prevent you from taking your medication.
  • Threaten assistance animals (such as guide dogs).
  • Threaten that police or other services will not believe your reports.
  • Threaten to punish, abandon or institutionalise you.
  • Threaten to report you to Child Protection or have your children taken away.

For more information visit Women with Disabilities Victoria 

Violence against refugees and migrants

In addition to the signs of family violence listed above, a person might:

  • Say they will cancel your visa and send you back home.
  • Stop you from practicing your religion or culture.
  • Stop you from accessing information in your preferred language.

For more information visit InTouch Multicultural Centre against Family Violence 

Violence against LGBTIQ+ communities

In addition to the signs of family violence listed above, a person might:

  • Humiliate you, call you names or make fun of your body.
  • Threaten to ‘out’ your sexuality, gender (identity, expression or history) or variation in sex characteristics to your friends, family or work.
  • Threaten to ‘out’ your sexual health history or status (e.g. HIV status).
  • Attempt to convince you their behaviour is normal or that family violence doesn’t exist in LGBTIQ+ relationships.
  • Undermine your parenting/caring on the basis of your sexuality or gender identity.
  • Control your access to your medication (including hormones) or prevent you from taking your medication.

For more information visit WithRespect 

Violence against older people

Elder abuse is any act which causes harm to an older person and is carried out by someone they know and trust, usually a family member. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing elder abuse, these services may be of assistance:

Seniors Rights Victoria

Free helpline, legal, advocacy and referral service specialising in elder abuse. 
1300 368 821

Elder Rights Advocacy 


Free service for all Victorians in residential and home care programs providing advocacy, information, support and advice.
1800 700 600

Office of the Public Advocate

For information or assistance regarding Enduring Power of Attorney, Guardianship or Administration matters.  
1300 309 337





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Has the behaviour of your partner or family member/s made you feel threatened or unsafe? No matter what the external stressors, violence is never okay.

You are not alone. If you feel frightened or need advice, help and support, or a safe place to stay there are organisations that will provide assistance.

Orange Door is the specialist family violence service in Melbourne’s Outer Eastern Metropolitan Region, including the Yarra Ranges. Orange Door provides free support services and assistance with:

  • Creating a safety plan for you (and your children)
  • Counselling and support
  • Housing assistance
  • Financial assistance
  • Alternative care/home for pets
  • Court support
  • Intervention orders
  • Links to a strong network of referral pathways to other services
  • General information for questions you may have

Orange Door is committed to assisting all people, regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age and ability and can provide access to other family violence services that are most suitable to your needs. 

Get in contact with Orange Door by calling 1800 271 150, Monday-Friday 9am-5pm or by email:

The services below offer 24 hour crisis support 7 days a week:

 Support service

Contact Details

Safe Steps
Support line for family and domestic violence.


Call 1800 015 188

If it is not safe to call, you can email:


Australia wide confidential support services, counselling, information and referral for sexual assault, and family violence for everyone.

Call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

Sexual Assault Crisis Line

Crisis counselling service for people who have experienced past and recent sexual assault.

Call 1800 806 292


National charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with support and suicide prevention services.

Call 13 11 14

Kids Helpline
Private and confidential phone and online counselling service for people aged 5 to 25.

Call 1800 55 1800

MensLine Australia
Help, support, referrals & counselling services for men via telephone, online and video

Call 1300 78 99 78


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Being an active bystander is critical – we all have a role to play!

Is someone you know experiencing family violence?

Family and friends are often the first to notice if someone is experiencing family violence. To learn about the signs of family violence click here[TN1] .

Supporting someone experiencing family violence

You need to consider the person’s safety when choosing how to support them:

  • Support and Encouragement: Being encouraging and supportive may build trust and support someone to make decisions and share their concerns.
  • Maintain contact: maintain contact over the phone or in person if it is safe to do so.
  • Create or maintain routines: establish regular catch up via phone or in person.
  • Establish a safe word or signal: if safe to do so, agree on a signal and what action you will need to take if this signal is shown to you (e.g. call 000).
  • Family violence services: Family violence services are available for support and advice. For more information visit
  • Storage of information and emergency bag: Hold onto important documents in the event they are needed quickly. Hold onto a bag of essentials such as clothing.
  • Ask: If it is safe to do so, find a way of asking if they are ok. You may like to try something like ‘I notice you don’t seem yourself, is everything ok’. For more tips on having the conversation visit:
  • Respect: Leaving a violent or abusive partner can be dangerous. Your friend or family member will know this and will be assessing this risk. 
  • Call 000 if you believe someone is in immediate danger: Victoria police have been trained on family violence and to identify and support at risk families.

For professional advice on how to support someone you suspect is experiencing family violence call Orange Door directly on 1800 271 150, they can talk to you about the best ways of supporting someone.

Look after yourself

It can be distressing and confusing when you suspect someone is experiencing abuse. If you are aware someone is experiencing family violence it is normal to feel:

  • Angry – at the perpetrator and the victim-survivor
  • Frustrated – that the situation is continuing
  • Scared – for someone’s safety and possibly your own
  • Out of your depth – like you don’t have the expertise to provide support
  • Pressured – to act

It is important to take care of yourself.

  • Don’t give up on the person experiencing violence or take your frustration out on them. Remind yourself that your support is important and keep communication open where possible.
  • Get some help from the experts. Ring Orange Door, they are specialist family violence providers for the Melbourne's Outer Eastern Region, including Yarra Ranges.
  • Be honest about what you can and can’t do to provide support. You are not responsible for what is happening, and you can’t rescue someone.

For more information visit:  

What if I hear someone being treated disrespectfully?

Where it is safe to do so, you have an opportunity to call others out when they speak disrespectfully to others. Disrespect may be shown through a put down, a sexist, racist, ageist, homophobic, transphobic or biphobic comment, silencing of someone, or one person exerting control over another.

This behaviour is never ok.

Our Watch recommends the following approach to take bystander action:

  • Show: Actions speak louder than words. Use your body language to roll your eyes, shake your head, use your facial expression. Don’t laugh along.
  • Support: Make sure the person who receives the put down or negative comment feels supported. Ask if they are ok. If someone else challenges the behaviour or comment, make sure you support them.
  • Speak Up: Ask the person to stop, purposefully change the conversation.

For more information on taking bystander action visit

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If you think your behaviour is hurting the people you care about support is available

Family violence includes a range of behaviours. Each of these can be demonstrated in a variety of ways:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Verbal
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual

To understand what these might mean visit:

Taking Responsibility

It’s hard to face up to your own actions, you might want to deny responsibility for your behaviour. Blaming your partner is the most common way to do this.

  • You think they need to change – to stop or start doing something so you won’t be triggered.
  • You’d rather focus on their behaviour.
  • You minimise the behaviour – “It only happened a couple of times”, “It was just a slap”.
  • You use excuses.

No matter how you feel it is not okay to scare your partner or children. No one should live in fear of the people closest to them.

No matter what they do it is not okay to hurt them. Things can be different.

Support Available

MensLine Australia on 1300 015 120: Counselling service (including phone) for men by men. A safe place to talk and seek support. Women are also able to phone for advice.

Orange Door on 1800 271 150: Support services for women as well as intake and referrals for men.

MensLine Australia: