Are you experiencing violence or abuse?
Everyone has a right to live in a respectful and safe environment. Some people do not feel safe. They may experience violence or abuse from a partner, another family member or other person who lives in their home or residential facility. They may experience abuse from a neighbour or a carer who is meant to be looking after them. There are things you can do to protect yourself from violence or abuse.
What is abuse?
Abuse is often physical - when someone hurts you physically by slapping, hitting, pushing, sexually abusing or restraining you. However it can also be abuse if someone:
- Calls you names, threatens you, intimidates you, swears and shouts at you or humiliates you;
- Pressures you to give them money, takes control of your money or property or forces you to sign things you don't understand;
- Refuses to let you go out and do things or have contact with your friends, family members or support services;
- Is meant to take care of you but doesn't give you proper food, clothing or personal care. This can be intentional or unintentional.
The law can protect you
Some abusive behaviour, such as physical or sexual assault, is a crime. That type of behaviour can be reported to the police and the person who is violent towards you can be charged with a criminal offence.
Also, Apprehended Violence Orders (AVOs) are orders made by a Court that prohibit or restrict the behaviour of the person who is abusing you. If you are successful in getting an AVO, the person can sometimes be made to move out of the residence you share if that is what you want. If they stay they will have to change their behaviour towards you or they can be charged with breaching the AVO, which is a criminal offence.
Some types of behaviour, such as taking money from your bank account or forging your signature on a document, are also crimes and the person can be charged with theft or fraud.
Other behaviours, such as insisting on having access to your identity documents or the certificate of title to your property, can put you at risk of losing money or even your home.
You may be entitled to counselling and/or financial assistance
If you have suffered a physical or psychological injury as a result of an act of violence you may be entitled to counselling and/or financial assistance from Victims Services.
You usually have 2 years from the date of the act of violence to apply, but this time limit can be extended in certain cases. You should get legal advice about whether you are eligible for financial support from Victims Services.