Communities and Justice

I'm a child or young person and home doesn't feel safe

Your family may include step-parents, foster carers, mum, dad, brothers, sisters, step-siblings, cousins, aunties, grandparents and even friends. Families are people we trust to care for us. But sometimes families fight and argue.

If you feel scared because you live in a home where there is hitting, pushing, yelling, swearing, put downs, damage to belongings, scaring, controlling or bullying, then you may be experiencing what is called family violence.

The violence may not be towards you but someone else in the house. You might be watching it happen or listening to it happen. And it can be really scary and upsetting.

It's not OK if you feel scared. You have a right to be safe. Family violence is never OK. It is against the law. And it is not your fault. Every child has a right to be cared for in a home where they feel loved, accepted and safe.

Watch: What is family violence? (for 10-13 year olds)

Younger kids section - What is family violence?

Video from What's OK at home?

Watch: What is family violence? (for 14-17 year olds)

Older kids section - what's up at home?

Video from What's OK at home?

What is family violence?

Family violence is when someone in your family is making someone else feel scared, bullied or unsafe. There are different types of violence that you may see happening at home: physical abuse, emotional and psychological abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, social abuse, and controlling behaviour.

How to recognise family violence is written for 14-17-year-olds to explain different types of abuse. It's part of the information you'll find on the website, What's OK at Home?

It may be that the person who is supposed to take care of you, love you, and keep you safe is the person hurting you. That is definitely NOT OK. You have a right to be safe. Violence is a crime. Maybe the adults at home need someone to help them know how to keep you safe and cared for.

You are not alone

Violence in your family can make you feel confused, scared, angry, sad and sick. There are many kids who live with family violence. And they know what you're going through. Read real stories from kids.

How you may be feeling

Feelings are important – they're one of the ways our body tells us what's going on. When we're happy, our body tells us through our feelings. We might feel light, and want to laugh and smile.

Sometimes our body can give us a warning that we are not safe. You may not be able to sleep well, your tummy feels funny, you get headaches, you feel tired, or you want to lash out because you feel confused, embarrassed, scared, worried, guilty, ashamed, sad, or lonely.

When you have these feelings, remember: The way you're feeling is normal. Violence is not OK. It is not your fault. You have a right to be safe.

What does a healthy family look like?

A healthy family has trust, support and respect for one another. They listen, talk and behave so that everyone feels safe and comfortable doing and saying things.

Respect is shown by listening to family members in a non-judgemental way and being supportive of everyone's right to their own feelings, friends, activities and opinions.

Honesty is shown by admitting when you're wrong and accepting responsibility for the things you do.

Responsibility means everyone agrees to share household chores and make family decisions together.

Your rights as a child

In Australia, each state has laws to keep children safe and to ensure their needs are met. In NSW, this law is the Children and Young Person (Care and Protection) Act 1998. A child is anyone aged under 18.

Australia also has a duty to ensure that all children enjoy the rights set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

What you can do

If you, or someone you care about, is being abused, please remember:

  • The violent person might blame you or make you feel ashamed, guilty or responsible for what is happening. You're not to blame for what someone else did. What they did was wrong and is against the law. It’s not your fault.
  • It’s not a ‘special secret’ if you, an adult, a brother, a sister or someone else at home is getting hurt. That is not OK. You can talk to someone about what is happening. There are people who will listen and can help you.
  • Your body belongs to you and only you. If someone is touching you in a way that makes you uncomfortable, scared, confused or hurt — it's OK to tell them to stop. If they don't stop, tell someone about it.
  • You can talk to someone. There is help available. See our section below called, 'Who you can call'

Staying safe

  • Do not try to stop the violence if it is between 2 adults. It's not your job to stop the violence.
  • Find a safe place to hide in the house.
  • If it's really dangerous at home, get out of the house quickly and go to a safe place, like a neighbour or friend's house.
  • If someone is hurting you say “Stop” or “No”, find a safe place to go away from the person, and talk to a safe adult.
  • If you're aged between 12 and 18 and looking for a safe place to stay (emergency accommodation), call Link2home on 1800 152 152
  • Call a 'safe adult', someone you trust and feel safe with, to tell them you need help.

Talking to a ‘safe adult’ is important

A safe adult is someone who can help you talk about what has happened. It can be a counsellor or teacher, your grandma or uncle. A safe adult is someone who:

  • believes you
  • cares about what’s happening to you and takes the time to listen
  • helps you to know that what has happened is not your fault
  • asks you what you think might help

Finding the words to talk about what has happened to you can be really hard. Sometimes a safe adult can help you find the words or ask questions so you can tell them what is going on.

Abuse and domestic and family violence can affect you for a long time. No matter how soon or how long ago it happened, you can get help.

Who you can call

If you or someone in the house is in danger right now, call the Police on 000 or go to your nearest hospital emergency department. AskIzzy can help you find the nearest hospital.

Talk to someone

If you want to talk to someone about what is happening, call:

Kids Helpline
1800 55 1800
Ages 5 to 25
Open 24/7

13 11 14
All ages
Open 24/7

Suicide Call Back Service
1300 659 467
Ages 15 and up
Open 24/7

Emergency housing

If you’re aged 12 to 18 and looking for a safe place to stay and need emergency accommodation, call:

Child Protection Helpline

You can call the Child Protection Helpline at any time day or night to report abuse that is happening or has happened, or that you have seen. You can also call if you feel unsafe.

Child Protection Helpline
13 21 11
Open 24/7

Last updated:

09 May 2023