As a society, we speak out strongly against domestic and family violence, however it continues to happen. This is because, as individuals, we often choose to stay silent.
When we're confronted with the signs of abusive behaviour, we can often make excuses and downplay our instinct to step in, without realising the consequences of our actions.
Domestic and family violence will not go away by itself – it needs our intervention, as individuals, to break the cycle.
Everyday people, such as yourself, need to take responsibility for learning the signs and taking action to stop domestic and family violence.
When to do something
What is domestic and family violence?
You can’t fix problems that you can’t see. Which is why the first step in doing something about domestic and family violence is learning how to identify it.
Domestic and family violence happens when one person in a relationship uses abuse or violence to maintain power and control over another person.
The abuse is not always physical, it can also be emotional, sexual, financial, social, spiritual, verbal, psychological or technology based.
Although domestic violence commonly occurs as part of a relationship with an intimate partner, domestic and family violence can also involve parents, siblings, extended family members and/or informal carers.
It’s important to remember that anyone can be the victim of domestic and family violence, regardless of their age, gender, sexuality, background or living arrangements.
How do you recognise the signs?
Perpetrators of domestic and family violence are often very good at hiding their behaviour.
Outsiders may never witness an abusive interaction, but instead notice a change in the victim, or have an instinctual feeling that something is not quite right.
Here are some signs that might help identify if someone is experiencing domestic and family violence. They may:
- seem afraid of their partner or always very anxious to please them
- stop seeing you, other friends or family and become isolated
- become anxious or depressed, unusually quiet or less confident
- be denied adequate care if they are an older person or a person with disability
- have a partner who is controlling, obsessive or jealous
- have a partner who has threatened to harm them, their children or pets
- have a partner who continually phones or texts to check on them.
- have physical injuries (bruises, sprains or cuts on the body) and may give unlikely explanations for these injuries
- finish phone calls when their partner comes into the room
- be reluctant to leave their children with their partner
- suspect that they are being stalked or followed
- say their partner or carer gives them no access to money, makes them justify every cent that is spent or makes them hand over their money.
If you notice these signs the next step is to find out what you can do to help.
Don’t wait for the situation to get worse, or assume that someone else will help. You are the person who can make a difference.
How to do something
Do you suspect that someone you know is being abused, and you want to help somehow? Perhaps a neighbour, friend or family member has confided in you about experiencing domestic and family violence in their relationship?
There are things you can do to help. If someone you know is experiencing domestic and family violence, you can be part of the solution. Your help can make a difference.
There are three ways you can help, depending on the situation:
1. Talk to the victim. An important thing you can do is offer support to the victim.
2. Let the victim know that support is available. Make yourself aware of the support services available and get support for yourself if required.
3. Call triple zero (000) or your country's emergency telephone number. If there is any physical risk of violence you should always call the Police.
If you are worried about someone, you can do something!
All information in this article is thanks to the Queensland Government's Bystander campaign initiative.