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How to help someone you know

November 5, 2018

One in three Australian women experience family violence.  The signs can remain well hidden but offering support to a friend or colleague can make all the difference.

Sometimes there are clear signs of abuse, but often the signs are subtle, beginning with a feeling that ‘something is wrong’.

Controlling behaviour, jealousy and humiliation are often signs of family violence, as Kylie –  who was recently supported by Emerge – noted.

“Towards the end of our relationship, my then partner was controlling every aspect of my life – what I could eat, wear and whom I could see. He banned me from the internet, listening to music or watching TV and made me hand over all my earnings,” he said. 

“When he told me to quit work and stop seeing my family, I knew I would be completely isolated and at his mercy. I had to leave. I wanted my children to know that women should not be treated in this way.”

Emerge has identified some of the warning signs to look for if you are concerned about a friend or colleague:

·         She seems afraid of her partner or is always very anxious to please.

·         She has stopped seeing her friends or family, or cuts phone conversations short when her partner is in the room.

·         Her partner often criticises her or humiliates her in front of other people.

·         She says her partner pressures her to do sexual things that are uncomfortable or against her will.

·         Her partner often orders her about or makes all the decisions (for example, her partner controls all the money, tells her who she can and can’t see, and even what she watches    on television).

·         Her partner accuses her of having an affair or looking at other men.

·         She often talks about her partner’s ‘jealousy’, ‘bad temper’ or ‘possessiveness’.

·         She has become anxious or depressed, has lost her confidence, or is unusually quiet or shy.

·         She has physical injuries (bruises, broken bones, sprains, cuts) and has elaborate stories and unlikely explanations as to how these occurred.

·         Her children seem afraid of her partner, have behavioural problems or are very withdrawn or anxious.

·         She is reluctant to leave her children alone with her partner.

·         After she has left the relationship, her partner is constantly calling her, harassing her, following her, coming to her house or waiting outside.

If you are concerned about a friend or colleague, approach the subject gently.  Often victims of family violence can be defensive, or reject your support, so you need to be thoughtful in your approach.  Shame, fear or embarrassment can create a barrier for victims of abuse and it can take time for them to admit the abuse and seek help.

You can speak to an experienced family violence worker by contacting Emerge on 1300 536 330.

Emerge also runs a financial counselling service.

Experiencing family violence? Click below to make a plan that works for you.

Go to safety plan