Are you a victim of family violence?
Being the victim of abuse, violence or controlling behaviour in any relationship is scary. It is hard to know what to do or where to get help. It is even harder when the person using violence against you is someone you care about and is someone who is supposed to care about you. But there is help available. If you would like help or to talk to someone about what is happening you can:
Tell someone you trust and ask for their help. That could be a friend, family member or neighbour.
Call and speak to a worker at Minerva or another support service.
Always call the police on 000 in an emergency. Victoria police have a code of practice that guides them in how best to help both victims and those choosing to use violence.
If you are the victim of abuse or violence from a partner, someone who cares for you, or a family member, your safety is a priority. You will already be doing many things to keep safe and a safety plan can help too. Creating a safety plan is important if you are:
- in a relationship with someone who uses abusive, violent or controlling behaviour towards you;
- if you are preparing to leave that relationship; or
- when you have left that relationship.
You may have other people to include in your safety plan such as children or other family members. You can contact Minerva or another family violence service for help in making a safety plan or you can do your own.
Some of the things you will need to think about for a safety plan are:
1./ Important phone numbers
There's always somebody who can help. When you're in danger, call the Police on 000.
When you need support and information during business hours, you can call Minerva on (03) 5224 2903.
When you need support and information outside business hours (including refuge), call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.
When you feel like you aren't coping and you need somebody to talk to, call Lifeline 13 11 14.
It's a good idea to put together a list of any other phone numbers you might need in an emergency and keep those with you if possible. Is it safe to keep them in your wallet or on your mobile phone? It is also a good idea to teach your children how to call 000 in an emergency.
2./ Identify a trusted family member, friend or neighbour who can help you in an emergency and how to contact them.
If you're in a situation where openly calling for help is dangerous, what about texting or calling somebody you trust and using a code word to tell them that you need help? Have a code word for help. Keep their number in your mobile.
3./ Identify a safe place to go and how to get there in an emergency.
This could be to a trusted person, such as family member, or to a 24/7 facility such as the police station, hospital, McDonalds or a service station. It is also a good idea to rehearse an escape plan from your home.
You can prepare for leaving your home quickly by keeping a safety bag packed that includes money, identification, medication, important documents, clothes, a spare set of house and car keys and school clothes, books and toys for your children. If it feels dangerous to keep your safety bag in your house, what about leaving it in your car boot or with somebody you trust?
Keeping essentials like your mobile phone, wallet and car keys together somewhere you can access them quickly is also a good idea, as well as keeping a secret spare set of keys in case he (she) takes the first set. Think about the different escape routes from your home and how you can remove any obstacles. Whether you're planning to leave for good, or just for one night, try not to change your behaviour around him, so that he doesn't realise what you have in mind and try to stop you.
Leave as quietly as possible and without giving him (her) clues about where you're going.
Get a private postbox and don't give out your real address. When asked by businesses, doctors, and others for your address, have a private post office box address or a safer address to give them.
4./ Identify where you can access money quickly. Keep some cash, your banking details and ATM/credit cards handy.
If you receive Centrelink benefits, you may be eligible for a Centrelink crisis payment if you are forced to leave your home for good
5./ What is security like at your home? Are there working locks on all of your windows and doors? Does he (she) have a key to your home?
Minerva can support you in changing your locks and may be able to contribute to the cost of upgrading your home security, if needed.
6./ Have a plan for how you (and your children) will respond if he (she) shows up:
- at work
- at school
- in public
Consider talking about the situation with your boss and your children's school so they can help you and your children to be safe.
If you find yourself being stalked, think about ways he (she) might be able to track your movements such as:
- Using an application designed to help you find your mobile phone if it's lost or stolen
- Change your password
- Checking the journey history on your GPS
- Clear the history after you travel
- Asking friends/family members to report back
- Be careful who you give information to
Using Facebook and other websites that allow you to "check in" with your location. Stop checking-in until you feel safe again and think about whether your location can be identified in the background of photos.
Logging into your email account and reading your personal emails change your password
More information about technology and safety planning can be found at Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria website.
7./ Using the law to protect you.
Have you applied for a Family Violence Intervention Order?
An Intervention Order helps create a protective legal boundary around you (and your children) if you think you will continue to experience family violence. You can still apply for an order against someone you live with; or someone who cares for you if you have an illness or disability. It can say that the person must not threaten or assault you. In some cases the person using violence can be removed from the home. Minerva can provide more information about this and support in making an application to the court.
More information about legal protection can be found at the Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria website and; a video called Steps to Safety developed by the Eastern Community Legal Centre explains more about the Family Violence Intervention Order process
Do you have a Family Law Order in place?
A Family Law Order can help to create stability for you and your children. We recommend speaking to a lawyer about this option, to find out if it will work for you.
8./ Children and safety plans.
Remember that if you have children, it's important to help them create their own safety plan, that's appropriate for them, and include any good ideas they might have!
A child or young person's plan may include a safe place to go when things at home become unsafe.
A trusted friend to go to for help, their telephone number, a code word to indicate they need help and directions about what to do such as:
- Call the police on 000
- Tell an adult
- Call a helpline