Domestic and Family Abuse

Domestic and family abuse is when a member of your family, or someone you are, or were, in a relationship with, tries to dominate and control you. 

Domestic and family abuse can occur in heterosexual, same sex, and gender diverse relationships.

Domestic violence can also occur between people who live together, people who care for another person, and who were in a relationship with the same person.

There are many types of domestic and family abuse:

  • physical violence;
  • sexual abuse;
  • emotional or psychological abuse;
  • verbal abuse;
  • stalking and intimidation;
  • social and geographic isolation;
  • financial abuse;
  • cruelty to pets;
  • damage to property; or
  • threats to be violent in any of these ways.

Taken from the Duluth Power and Control wheel

  • Using Intimidation - eg making you feel afraid by using looks, gestures, actions; smashing things; destroying your property; abusing pets or threatening to do any of these things.
  • Using Emotional Abuse – eg putting you down; calling you names; making you feel guilty; making you think you’re crazy.
  • Using Isolation – eg controlling what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read, where you go; limiting your outside involvement, using jealousy to justify actions.
  • Minimising, Denying and Blaming – eg saying the abuse didn’t happen; not taking your concerns about the abuse seriously; shifting responsibility for the abusive behaviour; saying you caused it.
  • Using Children – eg making you feel guilty about the kids; using kids to relay messages; using visitation to harass you; threatening to take the kids away.
  • Using Male Privilege – eg treating you like a servant; making all the big decisions; being the one to define men’s and women’s roles.
  • Using Economic Abuse – eg preventing you from getting or keeping a job; making you ask for money; giving you an allowance; taking your money; not letting you know about or have access to the family income.
  • Using Coercion and Threats – eg making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you; making you do illegal things; making you ask police to drop charges or to tell police you lied; threatening to leave you, threatening to commit suicide, threatening to report you to welfare.

If you are at immediate risk call 000.

  • Keep a record of your partner’s behaviour. This can help you make a statement to the police.
  • The Police may apply for an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) to protect you.
  • The Police may charge your partner if they believe they committed a criminal offence.
  • Keep a bag of clothes and toiletries and any medication (or scripts) and any important documents like passports in a safe place in case you need to leave quickly.
  • Store your important documents on a USB and keep it in a safe place.
  • Make plans for a safe place for your pets to go if they can’t go with you.
  • Get advice about getting an AVO.
  • Change all your passwords.
  • Increase your privacy settings on your social media accounts.
  • Talk to family or friends about staying with them temporarily.
  • Call the Domestic Violence Line on 1800 656 463 for emergency accommodation. The DV line is available 24/7.
  • If you need to move to stay safe, you may be entitled to up to $5,000 under the Immediate Needs Support Package. For more information, visit the  Victims Services NSW website.
  • If you leave, you can take your kids with you.
  • If you are thinking about moving far away, contact us for advice or Legal Aid before moving because your ex may seek court orders you return.
  • The law says that as long as kids are safe, they have the right to a relationship with both their parents.
  • Unless there is risk, a court is likely to order that you and your ex spend time with your kids.
  • You need to attempt mediation with your ex before going to court unless your matter is urgent or there has been family violence and it’s not safe to mediate.
  • Contact us, Legal Aid, or a Family Relationship Centre for help.
  • You do not need to send them, but you should get urgent advice about your situation from us or Legal Aid.
  • You need to attempt mediation with your ex before going to court.
  • Contact us, Legal Aid, or a Family Relationship Centre for help.
  • If you can’t reach an agreement after mediation, you can apply to a court for parenting orders.
  • The court will make orders that they believe are in your kid’s best interests and do not put them at risk. 
  • The law says it is in kid’s best interest to have a meaningful relationship with both parents and to be protected from harm.
  • The law also says that is more important to protect them from harm than to benefit from having a meaningful relationship with both parents.
  • If mediation is not appropriate, you or your ex can apply for parenting orders without needing to mediate but it better to talk to a mediation service before applying for parenting orders.
  • The mediation service will decide whether it’s safe for you and your ex to mediate.
  • You do not need to sit in the same room as your ex. Mediation can be done over the phone, video conferencing, or by the mediators going back and forth between you and your ex.
  • If there is no safe way to mediate, the mediation service may decide it’s not appropriate for you to mediate and give you a certificate that will allow you or your ex to apply for parenting orders.

For more information read our Kids section.

  • If your name is on the title or the lease you can stay.
  • If your name is not on the title or the lease, you can be asked to leave.
  • If you aren’t feeling safe at home, ask the police to apply for an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO) to protect you.
  • An ADVO that doesn’t make your ex leave can still stop them from harassing you while you live together.

If their name is on the title or lease, they have the right to stay except: 

  • if an ADVO excludes them; or 
  • a family court or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal makes an order that they cannot live in the house. 
  • If your name is on the title, you don’t lose the right to the property if you move out. 
  • If your name is on the lease, you can end your responsibility for the rent and damage by giving your landlord, and any other co-tenants, a Domestic Violence Termination Notice.
  • For more information, visit the Tenants’ Union NSW. 
  • The credit provider or landlord can come after either or both of you for any money owing. 
  • If you can’t afford to pay the whole rent, you should consider ending your lease and moving somewhere more affordable. 
  • Apply for the Start Safely rental subsidy 
  • If you can’t afford to pay the whole mortgage, you can make a mortgage hardship application to pay a reduced amount while you sort out property division. 

For more information read our Home, Belongings and Debts section

If you need to move to stay safe or upgrade the security of your home, you might be entitled to up to $5,000 under the Immediate Needs Support Package. For more information, visit the Victims Services NSW website.

  • If you tell Centrelink you have separated from your partner, you might be entitled to more financial support.
  • You may be entitled to the Escaping Violence Payment.
  • You may be entitled to paid domestic violence leave from your employer.

The RSPCA runs a Domestic Violence program which can house and care for your pets while you sort things out.

You can call them during business hours on 9782 4408 or 9770 7555 outside business hours.

You might also be able to claim costs for boarding or agisting pets through Victims Services NSW. For more information, visit the Victims Services NSW website.

It is normal to feel like this.

You can call the Domestic Violence Line (1800 RESPECT) anytime on 1800 656 463. They can help you get medical help, counselling, and family support services.

You can apply for free counselling under the Victims Support Scheme. For more information, visit the Victims Services NSW website.

Your local GP may also be able to help connect you with local counselling services.

If you have been a victim of violence, you may be entitled to a recognition payment under the Victims Support Scheme. 

The amount of money you are entitled to depends on the type of violence you experienced and the severity of the injury you suffered.

You need evidence you reported the violence to the Police, a government agency or a non-government agency funded to help victims of crime and evidence you suffered a physical or psychological injury as a result.

You have 10 years from the act of violence to apply for a recognition payment.

You can also ask to be reimbursed for violence-related expenses. You have 2 years from the act of violence to do this.

You can also ask for free counselling. There is no time limit to apply for counselling.

For more information, visit the Victims Services NSW website or contact us for advice.

Safety Exit