Communities and Justice

Staying safe while in a violent relationship

If you're in a relationship that is abusive or violent or both, there are things you can do.

1. Break the silence

You may feel ashamed of having a partner who abuses you and is violent, so you don't tell anyone because of that shame.

Your partner's violent behaviour is not your fault. And an abusive partner may not want you to talk to other people because they want to be in control of you. But you shouldn't keep quiet.

Choosing to speak up about what you're going through is brave. Staying silent can put you and your children at risk of more harm. Talk to someone: a friend, a family member, a coworker, your GP or someone trained in the area of domestic and family violence. You may be surprised how relieved you feel once you break the silence.

2. Find support

Don't go through this alone. Dealing with domestic and family violence everyday is stressful. Talk to a support services worker. Stay in touch with trusted friends and family. Talk to them about how you're going. Acknowledge to yourself and to them how scary it is. Or connect with a group or organisation of domestic and family violence survivors, as they'll be more able to relate to what you're going through.

3. Don't blame yourself

You may think that the abuse and violence is your fault. But it isn't. It's never your fault. Domestic and family violence is not caused by something you did or didn't do. It's your partner, former partner, or perpetrator's choice to be abusive or violent - and this is a crime. What he is doing is against the law. And it's unlikely that the abuser will stop their violent and abusive behaviour without professional help and support.

4. Recognise your strength

You are clever and you're a survivor. You would have to be to survive in a violent and abusive relationship every day. Your abilities and skills have kept you and your children going. The way you've coped and worked to keep yourself and your children from harm are signs that you are a capable person. You can draw on your strengths to create a more positive future for you and your children.

5. Make a safety plan

Safety planning is thinking about how to stay safe while living with domestic and family violence, and the actions you can take if you need to leave in a hurry. Read about how to make a safety plan for you and your children, or talk to a support services worker who can help you create one:

6. Know your rights

You have a right to be safe and respected, and live without fear of physical or sexual assault, threats of violence or stalking. You do not have to live with violence and abuse. It's against the law and the abuser is committing a crime.

You also have the right to apply for an Apprehended Violence Order (AVO) against the abusive partner or ex-partner.

And you can also apply to the Staying Home Leaving Violence program that aims to prevent homelessness by working with Police to remove the violent partner from the home so women and children can remain in their home but safely.

7. Look after yourself

Living everyday with domestic and family violence is stressful and can be overwhelming. The situation can cause you to feel anxiety, have panic attacks, suffer from depression and think of ending it all by committing suicide. Try to find a safe place for some time out. Find a supportive GP, friend, family member or coworker and tell them about what's happening. You can also call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Your situation may change

Your situation may change and you may need to take another look at what's going on for you. You may find at a later time that you're ready to move on and leave the violent situation.

If you're ready to leave the person abusing you, read about how you can plan and prepare for this. The time leading up to, and just after, leaving can be the most dangerous for you. It's important that you are aware of this and plan for your safety.

Last updated:

15 Dec 2022