How to support someone who is experiencing family violence

How to support someone who is experiencing Family violence:

A guide for family and friends



What might be the signs that someone is in a violent relationship?


  • Family violence is not just physical violence. It involves any behaviour designed to control another person or make them live in fear. This can be verbal, mental, emotional, financial and social abuse.
  • The violence may be hidden within the relationship. It is not always obvious to outsiders that someone is experiencing family violence.
  • A person who is experiencing family violence is often very isolated. They may have stopped connecting with family and friends. They may also have stopped doing their hobbies or other interests.
  • Often their partner is the decision maker in the relationship. This includes controlling finances and making decisions about what they do or who they see.
  • There may be signs of physical injury such as bruising or broken bones.
  • They may talk about their partner getting angry, or appear worried about pleasing them.
  • Their partner constantly calls or appears to monitor what they are doing.


You can find more information about recognising signs of family violence and abuse here:

Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria (DVRCV)  

Safe Steps Family Violence Resource Centre  



How can I help?

Safety is always the priority.

Often the person experiencing family violence will feel that they are to blame for their family member’s behaviour. Often this will be a male partner, but this is not always the case.


If it is safe to do so you can have a conversation.


  • You can start by asking them if they are OK.
  • Don’t pressure them to talk to you.
  • Let them know you can talk later if they are not ready to talk now.


There are a range of ways you can offer support during a conversation.

  • Believe what they are telling you.
  • Help them to recognise that they are in an abusive situation and the behaviour is not OK.
  • Help them to understand that the violent behaviour is not their fault.
  • Help them to think about a safety plan and what they can do to keep themselves and others safe.
  • Let them know there are places they can go to get help.


Disclosing their experiences of family violence is an important first step in seeking support and lessening their isolation.

It is important not to tell someone experiencing family violence what to do or to judge them if they choose to stay in their relationship.

Next steps

Respect their choices if they are not ready to leave. There may be many complex reasons a person may choose to stay with a partner who uses family violence.

It can take great courage, and be highly risky to leave family violence. Women are most at risk when they decide to leave or immediately after they have left a partner who chooses to use family violence.

Someone who wants to leave family violence may need to consider:

  • personal safety
  • keeping children and pets safe
  • having a safe and secure place to go to
  • being financially independent and accessing money
  • accessing appropriate support (medical, counselling, financial, family and friends etc)
  • maintaining stability for children (medical needs, schooling, friends and community)
  • knowing their rights and options.


What help is available?


Windermere Child & Family Services

Windermere offers confidential counselling services for families and individuals experiencing sexual assault and family violence.

Call 1300 946 337


Safe Steps (Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service)

24 hour telephone crisis counselling, information, referral and support for women experiencing domestic violence.

Phone 1800 015 188


Lifeline Australia

24-hour counselling to anyone within Australia. You can talk to them about any problem, big or small.

Phone: 13 11 14


1800 Respect

24 hour counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault or family violence.

Phone 1800 737 732

** If you are concerned for yours or someone else’s immediate safety call 000.**

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