Separation can bring out the worst in people, and if you find yourself in a violent situation you need to take action to make yourself safe.
Those who perpetrate domestic violence often believe they have a 'right' to control and coerce those who they see as weaker and vulnerable. Domestic violence includes physical, verbal and emotional abuse, stalking, abduction and confinement, deprivation of cultural and spiritual rights, humiliation, harassment, intimidation, denial of access to money and resources, isolation from support, sexual abuse and assault including rape and incest, threat of or actual abuse, and, as part of the continuum of violence, murder.
There are a number of things you can do to stop or prevent violent and abusive behaviour and to improve your safety and that of your children. It is important to talk to someone you trust about what is happening to you. If you are physically hurt, please seek immediate medical help at your nearest hospital or see your GP and explain what has happened to you.
For emergency situations that require immediate and urgent assistance call 000. Callers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment can call through the National Relay Service on 1800 555 677 and quote 1800 200 526.
Ask the police for urgent help. The police can go to Court to get a protection or apprehended violence order for you, and they can respond and deal with any breaches. Other instances where you may need protection and assistance and what to do are outlined in the sites below.
Once a domestic or apprehended violence order is made, the police will deal with its breach for you. For further information, look at the links below(includes the Women's Safety After Separation Project and Menslineaus)
Other resources available to you are:
Lifeline: call the Lifeline's confidential 24 hour helpline 1800 200 526 to talk with experienced counsellors. Or look in the FACS Office of Women site for help and information.
The NSW Women's Refuge Movement: 24 hour help line on 1800 65 64 63, and its website http://www.womensrefuge.org.au/ contains invaluable information to help you.
Reach Out: http://reachout.com.au is an invaluable resource for teenaged members of the family.
DoCS Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 65 64 63. If you have difficulty communicating in English, the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50 can help you make the call.
Hot Peach Pages
International directory of abuse hotlines, shelters, refuges, crisis centres and women's organizations, plus domestic violence information in over 75 languages.
It contains comprehensive lists and information for Australian towns from Darwin to Hobart, Perth to Cooktown, Sydney to Broome. We thoroughly recommend that you bookmark this site.
Family Violence and the Family Law Court
If you are a victim of family violence or are worried about your children with the other parent, the Family Law Court provides information and assistance: http://www.familycourt.gov.au/presence/connect/www/home/about/family_violence/
The site contains invaluable help for you, explaining how the court will deal with family violence, safety measures and family violence orders. There is also an excellent Family Law Courts brochure, "Do you have fears for your safety when attending court?" which we highly recommend.
The Family Violence Committee was established in 2002 to review all court policies and practices in relation to family violence. A major consultation was conducted resulting in the Family Violence Strategy, which represents a major commitment by the Court to the management of matters involving violence and the protection from harm of its clients, their children and court staff. Family violence impacts on all aspects of the Court's operations, and as such, the strategies are directed at ensuring that effective measures are identified, implemented and monitored.
Help is out there. For your safety, and for the safety of your family and children, please ask for and accept a helping hand. Family violence is never the victim's fault.
Your personal crisis plan
If you are living in a dangerous environment you may have to leave at a moment's notice. You may not have time to rush around, throwing things into a suitcase, so please take note of the following checklist of things you will need should you leave suddenly:
Car registration papers
Your birth certificate
Marriage certificate (you'll need this for the Divorce Application)
Children's birth certificates
Children's school records
Cash, bankbooks, credit cards
Children's medical records
Your medical records
Keys to house, car, work
Your children's medications and prescriptions
House rental agreement
Mortgage payment records
Current unpaid bills
Telephone address book
Children's favourite toys
Items of sentimental value/family treasures
Photographs - if you've gone digital, transfer them all to CD
Can you think of anything else?
It is also a good idea to photocopy the most important pieces of paper and leave them with a trusted friend.
Keep change for phone calls or buy a mobile phone with a pre-paid plan.