Settlement Guide

What to do if someone you know is the victim of domestic violence

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Sadly, all too many Australians are aware of someone they know who is affected by domestic violence or abuse. So if you know it's happening, what should you do?

It can be hard to know what steps to take to help when someone you know is affected by domestic violence. Fortunately, there are many different resources in Australia that can provide support.

While we often associate family or domestic abuse with physical violence, it can also take many forms such as psychological abuse, harassment or financial abuse.

Overwhelmingly, adult victims are women, from all walks of life. Among them, migrant women face additional challenges when it’s time to get help.

Melbourne social worker Anu Krishnan says they're often isolated and don't know where to go. "They are scared to report, and even if they do report, where will they go?'

"They're not used to taking help from people or going into women's shelters.

"They often have preconceived ideas about what these shelters look like.

"Many women have issues with visas so they might be depending on their partner for living expenses.

"Sometimes they don't have the ability to take their children and move."

Because of the special circumstances of migrant women, some organisations and services have been created especially to help them.

A woman talking on a mobile phone.
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Getting support and advice

If you have questions or need advice in your own language, you can call the interpreters at TIS National at 13 14 50, and ask to be connected to 1800 RESPECT, which is a domestic and family violence counselling service, available 24/7. They also have an online chat service.

You can also request an interpreter if you’d rather talk to your GP or a police officer.

inTouch is a multicultural centre against family violence that also provides help in your own language. You can reach them at 1800 755 988.

Each state and area also has its own services, which you can find out about by asking your GP or community centre.

Getting help when you’re in danger

If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, you need to call 000.

Wendy Lobwein works at AMES Australia, a community organisation that offers range of settlement services for refugees and migrants.

She says that police are well-trained to answer domestic violence calls. "I know a lot of women have confided being frightened of the police being involved."

"They think it will be the beginning of the breakdown of their family, but police are increasingly being trained to make sure that people are safe, not to end marriages or relationships.

"That can come whichever way it unfolds. The police can be relied upon to keep people safe so please call zero, zero, zero."

Child covering her ears
CC0 Creative Commons
CC0 Creative Commons

What can I do?

If somebody around you tells you that they are a victim of family violence, or even if you just have an inkling, offer them your support and point them to the right resources.

"There has to be a lot of support so the women feel brave enough, feel confident enough, to come out and ask for help,” says Anu Krishnan.

"There has to be a lot of support so the women feel brave enough, feel confident enough, to come out and ask for help."

"There also need to be programs to raise awareness from inside the community so other community members can rally and help a woman who is experiencing domestic violence so she doesn't feel like she's being abandoned by the community.

"Very often, because of the shame of reporting intimate partner violence, women don't.

"We need to remove that shame and tell them it's ok to talk about it, they're not to be blamed."

A course for community leaders

Earlier this year, AMES Australia gave the country’s first-ever course for leaders from culturally and linguistically diverse communities in the Prevention of Violence Against Women. 

If you’re interested, they will repeat the experience next year, so keep in touch with AMES Australia news on their website.

Helpful links

1800 Respect


Safe Steps 

No to violence - Working together to end men's family violence

AMES Australia

White Ribbon Australia  

White Ribbon Australia Translated Facts Sheets 

White Ribbon Australia Diversity Workshops

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