Help for domestic and family violence
There are many types of domestic and family violence. It is violent, abusive or intimidating behaviour by a partner, carer or family member to control, dominate or cause fear. It doesn’t have to be physical abuse. It can be emotional, psychological, financial, sexual or other types of abuse.
It can affect anyone in the community, regardless of gender, sexual identity, race, age, culture, ethnicity, religion, disability, economic status or location.
If you’re a victim of domestic and family violence, there is help available.
Anyone in immediate danger should call Triple Zero (000).
- Domestic Violence Line (24 hour) on 1800 65 64 63.
- 1800RESPECT - 1800 737 732 - 24hr national help line for people experiencing sexual assault or domestic and family violence
How can I help someone facing domestic and family violence?
Sexual assault and abuse can have devastating impacts. Sexual assault is any unwanted sexual or sexualised act that causes the person to feel uncomfortable or scared.
Domestic and family violence can include sexual assault or abuse such as:
- any form of pressured or unwanted sex or sexual degradation by an intimate partner or ex-partner, such as sexual activity without consent
- causing pain during sex
- assaulting genitals
- coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease
- making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking or distributing explicit photos without their consent)
- criticising or using sexually degrading insults.
There are services out there that can help.
- NSW Rape Crisis Centre help line
1800 424 017
24hr help line and online crisis counselling service for anyone in NSW - men and women - who has experienced or is at risk of sexual assault.
- Victims services, NSW Justice
1800 633 063
Victims Services in the NSW Department of Justice help victims of crime. They offer support services for victims of sexual assault, including counselling, victims rights, and how to get support throughout the justice system
How can I support someone who is experiencing family violence?
Finding out that someone you know is being hurt is always hard. Perhaps you want to help but don't know what to do. The good news is that there are simple things you can do that can make a big difference.
When someone you know is experiencing domestic or family violence the way you talk and listen to them makes all the difference. You may be worried about doing the wrong thing, but it is important to know that it is OK to say something. Many people are glad to have the chance to talk about what they are going through.
When someone is experiencing violence they often feel trapped and out of control. These feelings can be made worse if you try to force them to do what you think is best. It is very important that people are supported to make their own choices, as they are ready.
Here are some ways you can help:
- In an emergency or if is someone is in danger now, call 000 immediately
- Believe them and take their fears seriously. This is important no matter what you think of the person or people who hurt them.
- Listen without interrupting or judging
- Never blame the person experiencing the violence for what has happened to them. Violence is never OK.
- Don’t make excuses for the person who has hurt them
- Understand that they may not be ready or it may not be safe to leave. Don’t try to force them to do what you think is best.
- Remember that domestic and family violence is not just physical
- Help in practical ways—with transport, appointments, child minding, or a place to escape to
- Help explore options. You or the person you are supporting can call 1800RESPECT or read this page for more information and support.
- Some people may need the help of an advocacy service to explore options or contact 1800RESPECT. You can find an advocacy service in your area by searching our Service directory.
What are the signs of domestic and family violence?
People experiencing domestic or family violence may:
- Suddenly stop going out with no reason
- Worry a lot about making a particular person angry
- Make a lot of excuses for someone's negative behaviour
- Have marks or injuries on their body that can’t be explained
- Stop spending time with friends and family
- Seem scared or wary around a particular person
- Seem worried that they are being watched, followed or controlled in some way
A person whose behaviour is violent or abusive may:
- Act in ways that make the other person scared
- Put the other person down all the time
- Make threats to hurt another person
- Where someone goes
- Who they see and speak to
- What happens to their money
- How and when they can use their phone, car, or computer
- Have a lot of rules about how the other person is allowed to behave
- Get very angry when the other person doesn’t follow these rules
How do I ask someone about domestic and family violence?
In the end, the only way to be sure there is a problem is to ask. This might feel hard, but there are things you can do to make it easier.
You may be worried that the person experiencing the violence will get angry, upset or won’t want to talk. This may be the case, but often people are glad to be able to talk about what is happening.
Pick a quiet time to talk, when the violence isn’t happening. Let the person talk at their own pace, don’t push them to say more than they feel ready to.
If the person you are talking to doesn’t react in the way you hoped, don’t take it personally. Let it go for now, but let them know you are there if they need you.
It’s better to talk to them about the things you’ve noticed that make you worried, than to give your opinion.
You can try some questions like:
- I'm wondering if everything is OK at home?
- I noticed you have some bruises. How did that happen? Did someone do that to you?
- I've noticed you seem frightened by your partner [or other person you suspect is hurting them]. Is that right? Is everything OK?
Give them the chance to speak in private. Be prepared to listen, but don’t force them to speak if they are not ready.
Housing and accommodation
If you need emergency accommodation in NSW because of domestic and family violence, contact the 24hr Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63. They can refer you to services in your area.
CALD and Immigration & visas
All women and men in NSW share the same human rights as well as equality before the law. Domestic and family violence is against the law under the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.
Some people who have come to Australia on a temporary partner (or spousal) visa are worried that if they leave their violent partner, they will be forced to return to their home country. This is not always true.
Contact the 24hr Domestic Violence Line on 1800 65 64 63 for information about local support services, translators are available.
- Immigration Advice and Rights Centre
Provides free immigration advice and representation to refugees and financially disadvantaged immigrants in New South Wales. You can make an appointment to talk to someone about legal advice, or call the advice line.
- Immigrant Women’s Speakout Association
Peak advocacy, information, referral and research body representing immigrant and refugee women in NSW.
- First Light Care
Family counselling for the Australian-Chinese Christian community. Monday to Friday: 10am–4pm
- United Muslim Women Association
Information, outreach, counselling and referrals for Muslim women. MWA also runs the Linking Hearts Multicultural Family Homelessness Support Service that assists multicultural families to access crisis accommodation and homelessness services.
- JewishCare NSW
1300 133 660
Casework, counselling and outreach and referrals for the Jewish community.
- Law Access NSW
Free call - 1300 888 529, TTY 1300 889 529
Legal advice, help at court and family dispute resolution . This includes domestic and family violence issues and they offer a number of specialised services.
Domestic and family violence can occur in all sorts of relationships and LGBTIQ people may have unique experiences of domestic and family violence but they can still experience violence.
NSW Police has gay and lesbian liaison officers available at local police stations who can offer additional support to LGBTIQ people who are experiencing domestic and family violence or to support people.
- Safe Relationships Project
1800 244 481 or 9332 1966
Operated by the Inner City Legal Centre, providing free information about applying for an apprehended domestic violence order and going to court, along with court assistance, legal advice and referrals. Face-to-face support is available for people in Sydney, and telephone support for people throughout NSW.
- Another Closet
Online resource for LGBTIQ people affected by domestic and family violence, including information for family members, friends and support services in NSW
- ACON LGBTI Health
1800 063 060 or 9206 2000
Information and referrals for counselling and support for LGBTI people experiencing domestic and family violence.
- Transgender Anti-Violence Project
1800 069 115 or 9569 2366
Operated by the Gender Centre, this service includes education and advocacy related to violence, transphobia and hate crimes, and supports people to report violence, seek legal and medical assistance and access referrals to counselling and other services.
People with disability
If you have a disability and are a domestic violence victim there are services that can help you.
Your abuser could be your husband or partner, carer, parent, child, family member or someone else who shares your house.
- National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline (the Hotline)
1800 880 052
Report cases of physical, sexual, psychological, legal and civil abuse, restraint and restrictive practices of financial abuse. For callers with hearing impairments, call 1800 301 130 to access the telephone typewriter (TTY) service. If you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment: Call through the National Relay Service - (02) 9281 3600. TTY users should phone 133 677 then ask for (02) 9281 3600. Speak and Listen (speech to speech relay) users should phone 1300 555 727 then ask for (02) 9281 3600.
- People with Disability Australia
1800 422 015 or 9370 3100
The national peak body for disability rights and advocacy.
- 24 hour NSW Domestic Violence Line
For callers who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, please call 1800 671 442 to access the TTY service.
- Intellectual Disability Rights Service
9318 0144, Free call: 1800 666 611
- People With Disabilities Australia
Free call: 1800 422 015, 9370 3100, TTY free call: 1800 422 016 TTY: 9318 2138
- Women with Disability Australia
0438 535 123
Help for older women
- NSW Elder Abuse Helpline
1800 628 221
Older women may have been domestic violence victims for years, or it may have started later in life. Your abuser could be a husband or partner, child, carer, or other family member
- NSW Domestic Violence Line
1800 65 64 63
- The Aged Rights Service (TARS)
1800 424 079
TARS provides advocacy and legal information and advice for older people
- Seniors Rights Service
1800 424 079 or 9281 3600
Legal advice and information for older people in NSW. Advocacy for older people in residential care or self-care retirement facilities or who receive in-home care.
- Council on the Ageing NSW
1800 449 102 or 9286 3860
Provides information and education and works to empower and engage people over 50 years of age in NSW. Its program, COTA NSW Legal Pathways is a low-cost legal service offered in conjunction with Legal Aid NSW which assists older people to protect their financial assets, avoid financial abuse, and plan for the future.
Help for young women
- NSW Domestic Violence Line (24 hours)
1800 656 463
- The Line
Australian Government website campaign that aims to help teenagers and young adults through difficult times in their lives.
- Kids Helpline
1800 551 800
24 hour counselling service for people under 25 years old. Kids Helpline offers counselling by phone, email and over the web
- Legal Aid Youth Hotline
1800 101 810
This service provides legal advice for children and young people under the age of 18. This service has limited open hours.
Help for Aboriginal women
- Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre
1800 686 587 or 9569 3847
Provides Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and youth who are victims of domestic and family violence with access to appropriate legal representation, advice and referral. General information: Monday to Friday: 9am–5pm, Legal advice - Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9.30am–4pm
- Indigenous Women’s Legal Contact Line
1800 639 784 or 8745 6977
Legal advice and information for Aboriginal women from the Women's Legal Service NSW. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 10am–12.30pm