Relationship; violence; domestic; youth; young; people; abuse; domestic violence; anger; legal;
Sometimes in relationships dominance or control or jealousy can be mistaken for love. This topic is about hurt, power, control and feeling bad in a relationship. It is written for people who are on the receiving end of violence. It will bust myths about relationships and look at how to keep as safe as possible.
In heterosexual relationships, women are more often hurt by men, however, relationship violence also happens in gay and lesbian relationships or is done by women to men. If you are hurting other people, have a look at the 'Violence' topic.
In several sections below 'he' is used to identify the person who is violent. This may not be your situation and we apologise if that is the case, but we do that to make the points simpler to write.
If you need emergency assistance, call the police immediately (000 in Australia). Other Resources are listed below.
There is information in languages other than English on the site of the Migrant Women's Support Service
You may find some of these sound familiar.
- Do you do things to avoid your partner getting angry because you are nervous about what might happen?
- Have you been told, "you drive me to hurt you" and "you should change" for the abuse to stop?
- Does your partner say you are useless, stupid and wrong?
- Is your partner always checking every detail of what you do or feel?
- Have you been made to think you are not good enough?
- Has your partner embarrassed you and your friends so your friends don't hang around any more?
- Does your partner threaten suicide or say "I can't go on without you"?
- Has your partner yelled at you, punched holes in the wall, lost it or hit you?
- Have you been accused of being with others?
- Are you told that it's because of "the drugs or alcohol", "my terrible childhood' or because "I can't control my temper"?
A healthy relationship needs more than love. It lets you feel loved, respected and able to be yourself. You may see some of the warning signs, but still think "it's not that bad". Feeling scared, embarrassed or pressured does not let you feel OK about being yourself.
Noticing the warning signs early and protecting yourself (maybe leaving the relationship) can prevent the cycle (see the Cycle of violence below) going on and on and on and on, each time getting harder and harder and harder for you to leave!
Violence or abuse is when someone uses power or control or anger to make someone else feel hurt, scared or humiliated. In a relationship there can be a pattern of this behaviour that is used to get someone to do what another person wants. Control or manipulation or jealous or possessive behaviour can be confused with love. Love is not any of these things.
Abuse, violence or control can happen in different ways:
Physical acts that hurt or scare you are abuse, whether they cause injury that you can see or not.
- This can be things like holding, shoving, pushing, restraining, torturing, driving a car dangerously to scare you, punching, biting, threatening, kicking, burning, throwing or smashing personal objects, punching holes in walls or doors, hurting or killing pets, breaking things or using a weapon.
- Harming or threatening to hurt someone is a criminal offence.
Emotional or verbal abuse
Using threats or put-downs to get what they want, or to make you feel bad about yourself is emotional abuse.
- This can be things like calling you names, talking in a scary way, threatening to hurt or kill you, giving you scary "looks", telling you you're crazy, stupid or useless, or purposely making you feel bad about yourself.
- Emotional abuse can hurt as much as physical abuse. It can actually be very destructive.
Sexual abuse can be things like forcing you to have sex, demanding or tricking you into doing sexual things, having sex with you when you have been drinking or taking drugs, or when you were asleep or unconscious and not aware of what was going on, using objects or treating you like a sex object.
- Sexual relationships should always be by choice of both partners.
- Any form of rape or sexual assault is a criminal offence.
Using your social life to control you or make you feel bad about yourself is social abuse.
- You might have to do everything together, not be allowed to choose your own friends, have to stop seeing your family or friends, or have them feel unwelcome when they're around.
- You might not be allowed to go out, or have to tell every detail about what you have been doing.
- You may be wrongfully accused of "getting on" with other people or be put down in public.
- Social abuse is a form of control.
Money can be used as a way of getting power over someone.
- This means things like making you dependent for money, forcing you to beg or do other things for money, keeping control of all money matters, stopping you from getting a job, gambling or selling your things without your permission.
Your partner might use religion, faith or cult beliefs as a form of control or to hurt you.
- You might be prevented from keeping your own faith, forced to participate in beliefs or ceremonies you don't want to, scared or hurt by the use of certain beliefs.
- This can be a very powerful form of control and make you do things you don't want to do.
If you are in a violent relationship, you might begin to notice a certain way that events happen. Relationship violence can sometimes feel confusing. You might notice a pattern to the violence that might be something like this:
- Build-up - Things are tense. You might notice stress. You might see the build up of stress without any discussion about this. You might just sense there is something wrong.
- Explosion - Danger time! Violence or threats occur.
- Remorse - Your partner says "I'm sorry, I didn't mean it", "I couldn't control it", "it won't happen again". He might buy gifts or do other things to try and "make up". Sometimes he might blame you and say stuff like "you pushed me to it".
- Honeymoon - Things seem calm again and may even seem better than they have been for a long time. He might deny that it happened, how serious it was or that he had any control. You might think he has changed for the better. Nothing actually changes and in fact the cycle begins all over, the build-up, explosion… and it all happens over again. This might happen over a few days or within just a few minutes.
Domestic Violence Cycle
You might use this to see what is going on in your relationship. Please remember: A violent partner CAN control his violence, but HE must choose to control it.
It is up to YOU to think about your own well being.
Relationship violence can do all sorts of things to the way you feel, act or what you do. Here are some things people have said. (Again we know that although we use the words 'he' or 'him' this is not the situation for all relationships.)
- I felt on-edge all the time, like I had to be really wary.
- I lost heaps of confidence in myself.
- I was scared. Scared of him and what he might do to himself or me or the kids.
- I constantly did what I thought he wanted. I need to please him all the time.
- I was unhappy. Unhappy with myself and unhappy with my life. I had never thought my life would be like this.
- I lost who I was, what I liked and my own opinions. I lost my life!
- I never knew what mood he'd be in. I tried to be nice so I didn't upset him.
- I thought it was my fault. I thought I deserved it.
- I felt like I wasn't good enough for him. Or for any one else for that matter.
- I was too embarrassed to tell anyone because they'd think I was weak or stupid.
- I didn't think people would believe me and that they would think I was just making a big fuss about nothing.
- I felt alone. He'd driven my friends away and told me bad things about them.
- My work at uni and work really started to take a dive.
- I made excuses for him. The day after, it was always less bad than when it was happening. I started to wonder whether I was just making a big deal out of nothing.
- I got drunk all the time and smoked tonnes of pot.
- I couldn't sleep; I got headaches and felt sick all the time.
- I avoided saying what I really thought in case he got angry.
- At first I could not believe it, that this had happened to me! Then I got angry.
A myth is a mistaken idea about violence. Your situation is yours and you know best. This is a way of getting as much information as possible for you to make your own choices about your own life.
Myth 1 - Someone who gets hit did something to deserve it!
Violence is never a way to sort things out. Saying you "deserved to get hit" is an excuse for violence. "If you stopped your nagging" or "did what I said" are ways of blaming you and making you feel like violence is your fault. Violence is never your fault. It is up to the person who uses violence to find other ways to deal with stress or to work out problems. No one deserves to be abused.
Myth 2 - You should be ashamed if your partner is violent to you
It is said one in three women will be hit by a partner at some time and one in eight will experience on-going abuse!
Many people have experienced a similar situation to you. You do not need to be ashamed of what someone else does. Violence aimed at you is not your fault and you do not have to cover it up for someone else. Your safety and happiness are most important. You have the right to feel safe and to not live in fear.
Myth 3 - But he hasn't ever hit me!
Violence is not only what is done to you physically. Emotional and verbal abuse slowly make you feel worthless and like there is something wrong with you. Other kinds of violence can make you feel alone, stupid or that you "should do as you are told".
When you feel this way it might make you think that you have no choice but to "take it". Remember, you always have a range of choices, it may just not seem that way! You've got the right to be treated with respect, enjoy your youth and fulfil your dreams.
Myth 4 - Drugs or alcohol cause someone to become violent
Lots of violence happens when someone is drunk or on drugs. Lots of people become drunk or use drugs and do not become violent. Drugs and alcohol do not cause violence; they are an excuse for violence. Violent behaviour is a choice. It is based on someone's belief that violence is an OK way to sort things out.
Myth 5 - Women who become involved in violent relationships should stand up for themselves and they are weak if they don't
Many people think women "should just leave - I would"! On average, it takes 7 tries for a woman to leave a violent relationship. There are reasons why they stay. Being a woman can mean, "caring for others". Being a man can mean being tough and "ruling the roost". This combination of caring and ruling can mean the relationship goes on. Feeling "in love", thinking of children's needs, constant "sorry" or promises to change, or getting threats like "I can't go on without you" can lead to choices to stay in a relationship. It can be very scary to step out on your own and leave. Your rights and needs are important. You are the one to stick up for them.
some people violent?
Violence in relationships is different in every situation. Some things in society make it worse.
In western culture (not just from parents but also in movies, school systems, magazines…):
- men are taught, role modelled and expected to be superior, in control and tough.
- women are taught, role modelled and expected to be caring, comforting and forgiving.
This culture can mean men expect women to "do as they are told", to "look after their man" or they may treat women like an object or possession. Women sometimes feel that having a partner is the most important thing to them and without one they mean nothing. They might try to look after and nurture them, please them or be what they want them to be. This pattern can lead to violence. For more information on this, read the topic 'Violence'.
Some things in individuals can contribute to violence, eg growing up in a violent home, jealousy or possessiveness, even feeling inadequate. Whatever the cause, the person who is violent needs to deal with it, not the other partner.
RR - Relationship Rights.
An equal relationship that allows you to grow and be yourself will have respect. This means your partner will:
- let you feel good about yourself
- understand and accept it when you say no to things you don't want to do
- accept it if you change your mind or have your own opinion
- admit he's wrong and talk honestly and openly to sort out fights
- negotiate and compromise
- let you feel safe when you are around him
- value and respect you and your rights as a human being.
You have the right to feel respected! Many people say trust is also very important in an equal relationship. Where do you see these fit in your relationship? How might you make abuse become less in your life (remembering you can't change someone else)? How might you make respect become a big part of your life?
Your safety is of utmost importance. Think of things you can do to protect yourself.
If you require emergency assistance call the police immediately 000. You can not stop the violence. Violence is unpredictable.
Here are some other tips:
- Tell people. Tell your family and friends and get them to help protect you. Tell the police. Tell your employer or school counsellor.
- Surround yourself with people you feel safe with.
- Have things written down so if he does any thing else you have the history. You can have things documented by the police without having to take any action. Or you can keep your own log with dates and things that occurred (this can be used as evidence in court).
- Try to avoid situations where you might be alone with him.
- Take as much control as possible. Think ahead about your safety and situations where he could come into contact with you alone. Make plans so you aren't alone.
- Ring or speak to someone for advice. Some places have a special phone line for violence. See Resources below.
- Get as much information as you can.
- If you are living with a violent partner and you want to leave, have a safety plan worked out. You might hide some money away, have clothes packed in a suitcase, or organised somewhere to stay. Think about things like bank accounts, credit cards, marriage or birth certificates and passports. Crisis and domestic violence services can help you.
- Organise somewhere safe to stay - a friend or relative, someone he doesn't know. There is also a range of temporary housing available.
- Try and cut any way he can contact you. Change phone numbers or e-mail address. Get other people to answer the phone or take messages. The less options he has the less he can contact you.
- Make arrangements for children or pets if you are scared for their safety.
- If you want to break it off and you are worried about his reaction, do it over the phone or when other people are around.
- Get legal advice. You can take out a restraining order or charge for any criminal offences.
- Write out your safety plan.
the law in Australia
The law is there to protect you. If you are in immediate danger you can call the police (000). If you want to feel safe there are a number of choices you have.
- You can make a report and the police can charge for assaults, threats or harassment.
- You may also take out an order that is intended to prevent the person who has been violent toward you from having contact with you. This alters depending on your age and where you live.
- Contact your local police or Domestic Violence Helpline for more information.
If you know someone who is in a relationship and you are worried that it is violent, your support could be vital. Many people find supporting someone in this situation frustrating or draining, so it can be useful to also have your own support. Here are some tips.
- Talk to her about your concern - "I am worried because…". Tell her you care.
- Listen to her - try not to make judgements like "Why do you take it" or "Why don't you just break up with him?"
- Help her understand that abuse is not her fault. Don't make excuses for him "he's not a violent man, he is just under a lot of pressure at the moment".
- Believe her. Tell her you believe it.
- Help her understand the abuse and take it seriously.
- Think about her safety and offer to help protect her, as long as your own safety is not put at risk.
- Be patient and let her make her own decisions - don't tell her what to do.
- Be encouraging and supportive. Try not to criticise her or her partner. Point out what abuse is and how it works.
- Help her to see a counsellor or talk to the police. Go with her if she wants you to.
- Find your own support; check out legal or other information.
- The Second Story Youth Health Service (TSS)
- Central: 57 Hyde St, Adelaide
- South: 50a Beach Rd, Christies Beach
- North: 6 Gillingham Rd, Elizabeth
- West: 51 Bower St, Woodville
- Youth Healthline 1300 13 17 19 - Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm
- Police Attendance in South Australia Ph 131 444 or emergency Ph 000.
- Police Domestic Violence Section - Ph 8207 4807.
- Domestic Violence and Aboriginal Family Violence Gateway
A service for women, providing professional counselling, referrals, links to safe accommodation, and information about legal, housing, police and financial issues.
Ph: 1800 800 089 (24 hours)
- Domestic Violence Helpline
Counselling for women and men:
Ph: 1800 800 089 (24 hour Helpline).
- 1800 RESPECT is a free and confidentlal counselling and telephone support service for women experiencing domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
- Regional Domestic Violence services - offering support to women:
- Eastern Adelaide DV Service 8365 5033
- Western Adelaide DV Service 8268 7700
- Northern Adelaide DV Service 8255 3622
- Southern Adelaide DV Service 8382 0066
- Women's Information Service
08 8303 0590, or for country callers 1800 188 158
- Women's Health Statewide
Healthline 1300 882 880
- Homelessness Gateway
Telephone services for families who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
1800 003 308
- Nunkuwarrin Yunti, for Aboriginal women and men
Ph 8406 1600
Nunga Miminis Shelter,
9 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday 8223 2200
- Migrant Women's Support Service
Ph 8346 9417
- Family Court of Australia
- Legal Aid
1300 366 424
- Women's Health Statewide
- Women's Legal Service
Ph 8221 5553
- Confronting Violence and Abuse Group for Men
Ph: 1800 800 098.
- Domestic Violence Outreach Service (DVOS)
Ph: 8267 4830 (9am - 4pm).
- Legal Services Commission
- Mensline Australia
Ph: 1300 78 99 78
- Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service of SA
Ph: 8362 3223
Colley D (1997) "Interventions with Men who have been Abusive and Violent" Domestic Violence Unit Adelaide.
Domestic Violence and Incest Resource Centre, Melbourne Victoria. 'When love hurts' http://www.dvirc.org.au/whenlove
Friedman, B (1996) "Boys Talk - A program for young men about masculinity, non-violence and relationships" Men Against Sexual Assault.
Mouzos J, Makkai T 'Women's exeriences of male violence: findings from the Australian component of the International violence against women survey (IVAWS), Australian Institute of Criminology 2004
Southern Domestic Violence Action Group (1996) "No-one Need Live in Fear".
World Health Organisation 'The world report on violence and health' Injuries and violence prevention site, 2008
The information on this site should not be used as an alternative to professional care. If you have a particular problem, see a doctor, or ring the Youth Healthline on 1300 13 17 19 (local call cost from anywhere in South Australia).