If you are looking for professional support, go to our ‘find a service’ page here where you can search for a service to meet your needs. If you or someone else is in immediate danger call 000.
This page is for anyone who has been the victim of sexual, family and/or intimate partner violence.
If you or someone you know is abusing their loved one and needs help changing their behaviour, please visit the Are You Hurting Someone page for more information.
Talk to Someone
If you are being abused, or even if you realise that you are abusing someone you love, it can feel very overwhelming, scary, confusing and isolating.
If you have someone in your life that you can trust, like a family member, friend or counsellor, it may help to talk to them.
Here are some tips for how to have that difficult conversation:
Make sure you choose someone you can trust, who will put safety first, and who can be judgement free and reliable.
Choose The Right Time and Place
Tell them you need to meet with them privately when they have enough time for a longer conversation with you. Make it clear that you need their undivided attention. Talk to them in a safe location where there is little chance of being overheard or interrupted.
Prepare for the Reaction
Talking about abuse is not easy and neither is hearing about it. The person you are talking to may find the information difficult to understand, hard to believe and process. They may minimise the abusive actions and say things like, “it can’t be that bad” or “maybe they are just going through a rough patch”.
We know that abuse is that bad, and that there are ZERO excuses for treating the people badly, but maybe your friend doesn’t know that, or maybe they are in shock and don’t want to believe it. Try giving them time to absorb the information. You can give them the details for this website and/or tell them exactly what help you need, and make sure that includes their confidentiality.
Once you have brought the abuse to their attention, it will no doubt be on their mind and they will probably start to put the pieces of the puzzle together if they didn’t already know. Most importantly: Don’t doubt your own experiences or judgement!
To most people, abusers may appear charming and friendly and by all accounts seem to be a good person. This makes it hard as your friend or family member may not believe you at first, even if it is you who admits to being the abuser.
Police in all Australian states and territories are trained in equity and diversity and should not show any discrimination when assisting you.
However, despite this, many sexuality and gender diverse people are reluctant to contact the police due to a fear of discrimination and/or minimisation. This is mostly due to negative past experiences and a tense history between LGBTQ+ people and the police.
All Australian states except Western Australia and the Northern Territory have LGBTQ+ liaison officers. To find out more about police in your state make sure you are logged into your state by checking the top right corner of the page beside the search function. Then see below for ‘in your state’.
Court staff are all trained in equity and diversity and should not show any discrimination during the court process. However, many LGBTQ+ people are hesitant to deal with courts for fear of discrimination.
In 2008, the Australian Government introduced reforms to ensure that same sex de-facto couples are entitled to the same benefits and subject to the same obligations as opposite sex couples.
The laws about AVO’s are the same for LGBTQ+ people as they are for non-LGBTQ+ people.
The court is expected to respect your preferred name and pronoun, however your gender history and sexuality may be disclosed. If you have changed your name then the name on your current identification is the name the courts will use.
If you are caring for any children in your relationship, you should seek legal advice about your rights under the law.
Keep Any Evidence
The proof you keep may be used as evidence in court.
Keep a diary of all abuse, including both physical and non-physical incidents. Make sure you include the date and time of each abuse, name the place it happened and list any witnesses. This type of documentation can be an integral part of your case when it comes time to file charges and/or to file for custody of your children.
Ideally, you should keep the diary hidden online. If you write it on paper do not leave it anywhere it can be found.
Keep any medical reports of injuries from the abuse. Ask your doctor about safe ways they can make notes about this abuse.
Take photos. Take pictures of any injuries from the abuse, as well as damage to the home and property. Record the date the photo was taken.
Record all other digital evidence. Let your abuser’s threatening calls go to voicemail and then save those voicemails. Save emails, threatening texts, screenshots of several missed calls in a row, and anything else that may be used as evidence as it can all be used later.
Save these things in a safe place. Send them to a private email account or another phone that the abuser cannot get to / does not know about.
Protect Your Technology
- Visit the Web & App Activity page on Google if you’re using Chrome. You may be asked to sign in to your Google Account.
- Check the box next to the item you want to delete. You can delete an entire day of items by checking the box next to a date.
- At the top of the page, click on ‘delete’.
If you’re using Internet Explorer – go to “tools” on the main menu and select “Delete browsing history”. If you have downloaded any documents, make sure you can also delete your download history and remove them from the “downloads” file on the computer, then empty the recycling bin on your desktop.
Tip: If you want to delete your recent searches under the search box, touch and hold the search you want to delete > OK. The search will be deleted from the Google app and your Web & App Activity.
Delete items one at a time
- In the Web & App Activity section of “Activity controls,” touch Manage Activity. You may be asked to sign in to your Google Account.
- Check the box next to the item you want to delete. You can delete an entire day of items by checking the box next to a date.
- At the top of the page, touch Delete.
iPhone or iPad App:
Any searches that you do while using the Google app are stored on your iPhone or iPad (device history), and also in your Web & App Activity.
Delete recent searches from your device.
When you’re searching in the Google app, you may see your recent searches appear as suggestions below the search box. You can delete these searches right from the search box.
- Open the Google app .
- Touch the search box that appears when you open the app.
- Swipe the search you want to remove to the left.
- Touch Delete.
Note: Any searches you’ve deleted from below the search box will be deleted from your iPhone or iPad device history, but a copy of the searches stays in your Web & App Activity.
If you’re searching in the Safari app, use a private window (this option is available when you click the plus sign to add a new window) and close it as soon as you’re finished. You can hit “private” again to return to the normal browser.
Facebook and Instagram:
Facebook and Instagram privacy and security options are improving all the time. For the latest information on how to protect yourself on these apps, go to this Facebook page, or this Instagram page. All reputable apps will have information on their privacy and security functions if you do a Google search.
In the meantime, here are a few tips:
- Privacy and security settings – do yourself a favour and spend some time checking this in all of your apps. Be selective about who can see your posts, tags, mentions, when and where you are online and anything else that could be used against you.
- Block – You can easily block someone else from seeing your profile and from being able to contact you through your profile. For some this is a great option, for others though you may want to still be able to track what that person is saying about you/doing. You can always block and un-block someone though the frequency with which you can do this is limited.
- Mute or restrict accounts – if blocking is not the best option, you can limit how much of your profile others can see. Facebook also has an ‘ignore’ button which means that you won’t receive messages from the person you select to ignore but that person won’t know you are ignoring them.
- Filter – In your settings you can filter comments, posts, stories and videos that are inappropriate, offensive or bullying.
- Report – if someone has posted something that is harmful to you (an image or post) you can report this in both apps. In most cases the image will be removed and in some cases the account will be disabled.
- Photo-matching technologies – Both apps (plus Messenger) have the ability to scan reported images that you submit of yourself that you do not want shared (for example an erotic selfie) and if someone tries to share that image it will be blocked and the user will be alerted. That means you can have an image blocked from being shared before someone tries to share it.
- Tell your friends – if any of your friends are ‘friends’ with or ‘followed by’ your abuser, ask them not to tag you in anything or post anything about you. It is best that your abuser doesn’t know where you are at any given time.
In my State (WA)
You can apply to the court for a Family Violence Restraining Order (FVRO) against a family member if you need protection because of the risk of family violence. The court can also issue an FVRO to protect children from being exposed to family violence.
Family violence refers to:
- Violence, or a threat of violence, by someone towards a family member
- Any other behaviour that coerces or controls another family member, or causes them to be fearful
It is not just physical violence. Family violence also includes financial, emotional and psychological abuse and stalking and harrassment.
The definition of ‘family member’ is broad and covers current and former:
- Spouses / partners
- Step-family relationships
- Other relatives
- Members of intimate or family-type relationships
The court can issue an FVRO against a family member (called “the respondent”) to protect you from family violence if:
- The respondent has committed violence against you and is likely to commit violence against you in the future
- You (or a person who applies for the FVRO on your behalf) have good reasons to fear that the respondent will commit family violence against you
If the court is satisfied with evidence of either of the above, it must issue an FVRO against the respondent.
The court can also extend an FVRO for the benefit of children, to protect them from being exposed to family violence by the respondent. A child is exposed to family violence if they see, hear or experience the effects of family violence, even if they are not the primary victim.
An interim FVRO has to be served to the respondent to be active. This is usually done in person by police, though in some circumstances respondents can be served via phone or email.
The respondent has 21 days to object to an interim FVRO. If they object, the matter goes before a magistrate for a hearing.
If they don’t object the interim order becomes final and can be in place for up to two years.
Restraining orders relating to family violence (also called “domestic violence”) can now be nationally recognised and enforced by police and the courts anywhere in Australia. An existing family violence order will automatically apply across Australia if it was made:
- On or after 25 November 2017 (in any Australian state or territory, including WA)
- In a Victorian court (on any date)
- In New Zealand and registered in Victoria (on any date)
If your existing restraining order is not automatically enforceable in WA, you can apply for national recognition. This may be simpler, quicker and safer than applying for a new FVRO.
The WA state government has passed urgent amendments to the Restraining Orders Act 1997 in response to the COVID-19 crisis that will:
- Improve access to restraining orders, including enabling restraining order applications to be lodged online
They have created a separate offence for a breach of a family violence restraining order, increasing the penalty to $10,000 (from $6,000) and extending the limitation period for prosecuting a breach of a restraining order offence to two years
- Allow the Family Court and Children’s Court to issue interim restraining orders on an ex-parte basis (in the interest of only one person/side), in the same way the Magistrates Court is permitted to do so.
In 2007, as part of a restructure of the entire WA police force to focus on frontline policing, the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Officer (GLLO) role that existed previously with the WA Police was permanently dissolved.
Today, WA Police have a section on their website titled Community Diversity and Substantive Equality, which outlines their commitment to the policing needs of indigenous people and multicultural communities, as well as diverse and social minority groups. LGTBQ+ people are described as people of diverse sexuality and/or gender.
Western Australia has Family Violence Teams (FVT) in each police district and a state-wide Family Violence Co-ordination unit. Each FVT includes Domestic and Family Violence Police, Child Protection staff and a domestic violence community agency worker.
WA Police Can issue 24 – 72 hour Police Orders, which are a temporary restraining order. A Police Order makes it unlawful for a family member to do certain things (e.g. leave the house for 24 – 72 hours or try to contact you for 24 – 72 hours) in order to try and stop them from committing family violence or exposing a child to family violence.
Police Orders can help give you protection from a family member while you decide if you want to apply for a Family Violence Restraining Order.