What is DV?

I talked myself into believing it wasn’t a serious problem. I told myself, no relationship was perfect.

Michelle

Can you recognise domestic violence?

Domestic or family violence can happen to anyone. All over Australia, women and children of all cultures and religions are made to feel vulnerable, scared and alone. It is not their fault.

Often women are living with domestic violence without realising they are. Sometimes they can find it hard to admit to themselves as well.

Recognising the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. The violence can take many forms – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial. It is any behaviour that is used to scare, hurt, intimidate or isolate another person. When it happens within families, we call it domestic or family violence. It is always used to control the other person through fear.

Loving relationships are built on respect, but sometimes one person doesn’t respect the other. They might intimidate, bully or frighten the other person so that they don’t feel like they can say or do what they want. Any type of abuse can make you and your children feel scared, ashamed or worthless.

He told me that if I ever left him he’d find me, where I was. I didn’t know how to escape him. I didn’t dare call the police for fear of what he might do afterwards.

Seema

If someone is hurting or threatening you it may be hard to know what to do, or who to tell. You might feel that you have nowhere to go; or nowhere to turn to. If you are experiencing domestic or family violence or know someone who is, you are not alone. There is help for you and your family.

In 2013-14, 2301 people were referred to Bonnie’s. They were all looking for the same thing: a safe place where they can grow happier and stronger. Asking for help is an incredible act of courage, and leaving might be the hardest thing you’ll ever do. With our support, you will be on the path to rebuilding a better life for you and your children.

Be strong. Find home.

Domestic violence can be experienced in many ways

Physical abuse

It could be a simple thing like me asking him, ‘Do you want a cup of coffee?’ And then I’d just cop it. He would come home and just snap.

Marika

This might mean punching, kicking, pushing or shoving; pulling hair; biting; slapping; twisting arms; choking; and being injured or threatened with weapons. Physical abuse doesn’t always leave visible marks or scars. It includes physical acts that endanger or control you such as reckless driving.

Sexual abuse

This is forced or unwanted sexual contact or activity. For example, pressuring you into having sex when you don’t want to, or to perform sex acts you don’t want or like or feel comfortable doing.
It is important to understand that forcing you to have sex is a criminal offence, even if you are married.

Stalking and harassment

This is unwanted attention that controls you or limits your freedom. It includes being followed, spied on, having to account for all your movements, or repeated phone calls and texts. These are all things that can make you feel unsafe or not free from control.

Technological abuse

Technology can be used directly or indirectly to intimidate, harass, monitor or stalk victims. Victims may not even know that this form of abuse is occurring. Some examples are: use of telephone, email, GPS, spyware, listening devices, hidden cameras, social networking sites. There are many forms of technological abuse – too many to list them all here, but it is important to be aware.

Psychological and emotional

Many women experience domestic abuse without ever being physical harmed. Psychological and emotional abuse includes behaviour and comments which can destroy self-confidence and self-worth. A common type is verbal abuse, which may include name-calling, threats, putting you down, humiliation and telling you you’re crazy.

Social abuse

This involves isolating you from your friends, family and social network. It may involve controlling where you go, who you see, and what you wear.
He might prevent you from contacting family or friends, or stop you from leaving the house. Another warning sign is if he constantly checks up on you (e.g. listening to your phone calls or ringing you repeatedly when you are at work or out with friends).

Damage to property

This occurs when the house, household furniture, or anything else that you own or use is damaged or broken. It could mean breaking a plate, kicking a hole in the wall, or damaging the car.

Financial abuse

This can occur when your partner takes control of your financial affairs or prevents you from having access to money. You might be denied access to bank accounts, or forced to surrender bank cards and credit cards. Other forms include:

  • preventing you from finding or keeping a job
  • making you ask for money for basic items such as food, petrol and clothing
  • forcing you to provide receipts
  • refusing to give you enough money to live on
  • forcing you to have a joint bank account when you don’t agree to this
  • forcing you to go on a Centrelink benefit that you’re not entitled to.

If you are unsure about whether you are living in an unsafe relationship, do this quiz. It might help you understand your situation more clearly.

Read Lin’s story…

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