What to do if you're in an abusive relationship

You should not feel that you have to stay in a relationship if you are experiencing any type of abuse, from physical to emotional or verbal abuse. If you feel you are in danger, call emergency services immediately. If you need to know about what you can do and where you can go there are things you can do and people you can talk to.

This might help if you:

  • Are in an abusive relationship
  • Don’t know what to do about it
  • Don’t know where to go
  • Don’t know what your rights are
  • Need to know where to get help

I’m in an abusive relationship- what should I do?

If you are in an abusive relationship, the most important thing to do is stay safe. This can be hard, but there are services to help you plan for safety. If you are living with your partner, you may want to take the following measures to ensure your safety.

  • Are you in immediate danger? If you are in danger of being hurt, or you are worried about your safety, contact police or emergency services (000) immediately and try to move to somewhere safe.
  • Do you have support? Making a decision to leave a situation where you feel unsafe may be hard and scary. If possible, talk to someone you trust, like a friend, family member, counsellor or youth worker who understands domestic violence. You can also contact an organisation in your state or territory who can give you relevant information on seeking help.
  • Talk to the police: If you feel unsafe or scared, the police can be good people to talk to. If you or someone you know have been hurt, contact emergency services (000) immediately.
  • Trust yourself: If someone is hurting you or threatening to, it can be hard to maintain your self-confidence. Remember it is NEVER OK for someone to hurt or threaten to hurt you for any reason.
  • Know your rights: It may be a good idea to check out your legal rights. Laws vary from state to state. To find out about your rights check out the Lawstuff website.

Where will I go?

Recognising that there is a problem is the first stage of getting help and there are a number of options available if you need to get out fast. It’s really important to remember that you are not alone.

A couple of options include:

Refuges: A shelter or refuge is a place where you can seek temporary accommodation to sort out your next steps. There are also usually a number of other services available in refuges, including legal advice, emotional support, practical help (like food and clothing), and good security.

Family or friends: If you can, get in contact with a family member or friend that you trust and ask if you can stay with them while you work out what to do next.

Other things to think about

  • Financial support: Centrelink can make crisis payments in some circumstances. For more information, check out the Centrelink page about crisis payment.
  • Legal support: There are a number of laws in place that you can use to protect yourself from domestic or intimate partner violence. To find out more, check out the Lawstuff website.
  • Medical support: If you are injured or have been sexually assaulted, contact emergency services or visit your nearest hospital emergency department.

Where to get help

State and Territory support services are the best place to start. 1800 RESPECT is also good for counselling and support if you have experienced domestic violence, family violence or relationship violence. You can also find out about more services for individuals affected by abuse or relationship violence.

What can I do now?

  • If you’re in immediate danger, call 000.
  • Contact someone you trust and see if you can stay with them for a while.
  • Get personalised support with the online anonymous tool ReachOut NextStep.
  • Find out more about your legal rights in an abusive relationship.
Last reviewed: 11 August, 2016
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