On this page, we look at domestic violence, the consequences, and how domestic violence counselling can empower you to lead a happier life.
If you are in crisis and need immediate advice to protect your safety, please go to our crisis resources section here for free crisis support lines or call 000.
Domestic violence inflicts immeasurable and long-term suffering on survivors. It’s not just physical violence but refers to a range of abusive behaviour – often recurring and progressing in severity – that seeks to control or dominate through fear.
Domestic violence can affect anyone, anytime, anywhere; regardless of culture, sexuality, or gender identity – though, it tends to be perpetrated by male partners, from a current or past relationship, and towards women.
Domestic violence counselling provides survivors of violence with tools to manage or exit a relationship, as well as deal with the consequences of a past relationship. This includes empowering survivors to:
Domestic violence counselling helps perpetrators of violence learn healthy ways to express themselves and manage their emotions. This includes empowering perpetrators to:
If you’re unsure that you’re experiencing domestic violence, a qualified counsellor can help you clarify what’s happening in your current relationship, or what happened in the past.
Domestic violence can occur in any relationship. You don’t have to live with someone to experience domestic violence. It can affect you even if you have left the relationship.
Domestic violence can occur in relationships with:
Domestic violence can be perpetrated by women towards men; by strangers, regardless of their gender; and towards the elderly, or people with a disability. Most domestic violence, however, is perpetrated by men against women and children.
As of 2016, 2.2 million Australians had suffered physical or sexual assault from a partner (1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men), and 3.6 million had suffered emotional abuse (25 per cent of women and 5 per cent of men).
People in lesbian, gay, or queer relationships experience domestic violence as often as cisgender women in heterosexual relationships. And people with LGBTIQ identities experience domestic violence as often as people with heterosexual identities.
For Australian women, domestic violence is the primary driver of homelessness – and homeless people are especially vulnerable, with 42 per cent of clients to specialist homelessness services experiencing domestic violence.
People with a disability experience higher rates of emotional abuse (1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men).
Indigenous Australians were hospitalised for domestic violence at 32 times the rate of non-Indigenous Australians in 2016-17.
There is little variance in rates of domestic violence according to economic status – domestic violence occurs in middle- and high-income households.
The numbers only tell part of the story – many survivors of domestic violence choose not to report their experiences.
Survivors of domestic violence may have repeated physical injuries like bruises, scratches, or burns. They might conceal their injuries or not provide logical explanations for them.
But physical abuse is just one type of domestic violence. Other types of domestic violence can be harder to spot, but there are signs to look out for:
Survivors of violence can benefit from domestic violence counselling.
Survivors of violence may experience emotional symptoms, including constantly anticipating abuse, or despairing that it will never end. Emotional symptoms include:
Survivors of violence experience physical symptoms. Even when the abuse is not physical, psychological distress can have physical consequences. Physical symptoms include:
If you are or suspect that you are a perpetrator of violence, the best thing you can do is acknowledge the problem. Acknowledgement will help you embrace change and learn emotional management tools, free of blame and excuses.
If you’re unsure, ask yourself if you have:
If you answered yes to any of these questions, Life Supports Counselling has expert psychologists and counsellors to help you stop using violence.
We empower perpetrators to realise their capacity for change – to let go of violent patterns and gain healthy tools to express themselves.
Anger management counselling helps you identify your underlying concerns – whether hurt, shame, fear, or grief. This can enable you to recognise your anger triggers and choose more productive responses.
We empower survivors of violence to understand the choices available, repair their confidence, and regain trust in healthy relationships.
Even if you feel unsure that what you’re experiencing is domestic violence, speaking to a qualified counsellor can help clarify what’s happening in your current relationship, or what happened in a past relationship.
If you are experiencing domestic violence in any form, there are services to support you.
There are many other support services to help you:
1800RESPECT is a free domestic violence counselling service open 24 hours, 7 days a week.
P: 1800 737 732
Kids Helpline is a free counselling service for people aged 5 to 25.
P: 1800 551 800
Lifeline is a free counselling service that helps people experiencing domestic violence.
P: 131 114
Family Relationship Advice assists with family issues, including separation and domestic violence.
P: 1800 050 321
The Elder Abuse Help Line provides free information and support. The Service Finder can help you find services in your area.
P: 1800 353 374
Compass provides information on elder abuse and can help you find local support services.
HYPERLINK INCLUDED: https://www.compass.info/
Sunny provides information on domestic violence and assists women with a disability to access support services.
MensLine Australia provides support to both survivors and perpetrators of violence perpetrators, online and over the phone.
P: 1300 789 978
Men’s Referral Service is a free counselling and referral service to help men stop using violence, available online at the No to Violence website and over the phone.
P: 1300 766 491
Financial Counselling Australia offers free financial counselling to help people experiencing domestic violence.
P: 1800 007 007
National Legal Aid connects you to legal assistance in your state or territory. It provides free information sessions and phone advice.