How to help someone experiencing domestic violence

WSLHD Domestic Violence counsellors Katie O’Brien and Thomi Coustas.

Christmas is traditionally a time of togetherness for families and friends. For victims of domestic abuse, it can be a time of despair and fear.

One in four Australian women experience violence by a partner and this risk increases over the festive season. Domestic abuse or violence can be physical, emotional, psychological and sexual.

Western Sydney’s Integrated Violence Prevention and Response Service (IVPRS) community development counsellor Jay Pulvirenti said abuse or violence against women or men was not acceptable at any time.

“Frequent contact between family members, financial stress and alcohol can contribute to increased tension, particularly when there are existing issues,” Jay said.

“Manipulation, threats, coercion, humiliation, stalking and controlling behaviour are all forms of domestic violence.”

If you suspect someone is experiencing domestic abuse or violence, you can help them by:

  • assuring the person you’re there for them
  • listening without judgement
  • staying in contact
  • including them even if they decline or cancel your plans
  • informing them about the resources available

From 2018-19, NSW Police recorded more than 133,000 domestic violence incidents and 32 people were killed in domestic violence homicides in NSW.

IVPRS counsellor Thomi Coustas said it was important not to pressure anyone to leave a relationship before they were ready.

“One of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship can be when a victim leaves,” Thomi said.

“More than 70 per cent of domestic violence murders occur after the victim has left the relationship.  

It’s everybody’s right to feel safe and be treated with respect and love. No-one should live in fear.

“The responsibility for the abuse is always with the abuser. No-one else can control or change that behaviour.”

24-hour support services:

  • 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732. Telephone and online counselling and crisis intervention for anyone who has experienced (or is at risk of) sexual assault, domestic violence or family violence.
  • Domestic Violence Line: 1800 65 64 63. Provides referrals for women to access all domestic violence refuges in NSW.
  • Lifeline: 131 114. Telephone counselling and referral service.
  • Men’s Referral Service: 1300 766 491 or Telephone counselling, information and referral service for men.

The WSLHD counselling service for domestic violence victims: 8890 7940. This service is open during business hours and provides counselling, advocacy, information and referrals to other services.

The team can also arrange documentation of any injuries via the Forensic Medical Unit located at Blacktown Hospital for police or legal matters.

Contact the police (000) if you or anyone else is in immediate danger.