Domestic and family violence: what it is and where to go for support

26 November 2020
What you should know if you or someone you know needs help
Sharon Chung from the University’s Safer Communities Office breaks down the facts of domestic violence and how you can find support for yourself or for someone you know in need.

The UN’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence is an annual international campaign that kicks off on 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, Human Rights Day. 

Domestic and family violence is often labelled as a “silent crime." For most people who experience abuse at home, even their closest friends and family have no knowledge of the abuse occurring in their relationship. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the barriers for people to access support.

Many people think that domestic and family violence can only occur between husbands and wives, however this is not true. It can happen between boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, adult children and family members.
Sharon Chung, Safer Communities Office

“Many people may not know that their relationship is not a healthy one, it is important to know some of these signs not only for yourself but also to look out for your friends,” says Sharon.

Some signs that someone may be in an abusive relationship can include feeling fearful of their partner or family member, needing to ask for permission to spend time with friends or contact them, controlling their partner's finances, and other controlling behaviour that dictates what a person can and can’t do.

If your friend has disclosed that they are experiencing abuse, it is important to spend the time to listen to them without judgement and to offer to support them through this.

 “It can often help to work out some secret code words with your friend so that you know when they are not safe and need help," says Sharon.

It is also important to let your friend know that they are not alone. There is support both at the University and outside of the University that can help them. If at anytime your friend is not safe, please contact emergency services. 

The following videos contain more information about understanding domestic and family violence:

The Safer Communities Office provides support and case management to students who have experienced incidents such as domestic, family violence and sexual assault and can be contacted on + 61 2 8627 6808 or via email on

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