Everyone can play an active role in stopping domestic, family and sexual violence. Many people in the ACT may want to help, but they don’t necessarily know how – there are simple steps that anyone can take.
For Community Members
Violence does not hurt only the person who has experienced it. It hurts the whole community. The victims are sisters, mothers, partners, friends, clients and co-workers – most people know someone who is or has been a victim of violence, even though the victim may not have disclosed the violence. There are things that you can do to show your support:
- Educate yourself about the issue and help raise public awareness about domestic and sexual violence.
- Inform yourself about how community attitudes play a role in condoning domestic and sexual violence – http://dvpc.org.au/information-about-domestic-violence-in-the-act/community-attitudes/ – and the myths about domestic and sexual violence – http://dvpc.org.au/information-about-domestic-violence-in-the-act/myths-about-violence/ .
- Donate money or items to your local ACT domestic and sexual violence services.
- Learn how to respond appropriately if someone discloses to you.
- Attend public awareness events in your community.
- If you hear or violent situation happening don’t turn your back when you could be saving a life. You could try to defuse the situation by knocking on their door or ringing their door bell. But if you feel unsafe and that it may be dangerous, or if you think a person is being seriously hurt by somebody in their family, you should ring the Police on 000 immediately.
For Family, Friends, Neighbours and Work Colleagues
Someone who has been affected by domestic and sexual violence may turn to you for support or advice as their neighbour, family or friend. So knowing what to say or do is important, because your support can make a difference.
Or as a family member, friend or work colleague you may suspect that someone you know may be experiencing domestic or sexual violence. Sometimes there may be signs, but often there will be nothing obvious. You might be unsure if what your friend, colleague or relative is experiencing is domestic, family or sexual violence. You might just think that something is ‘wrong’ in their relationship.
There are some behaviours and signs that may be common to people who are experiencing domestic and family violence.
- People experiencing domestic or family violence may:
- Stop going out, with no obvious reason or, when asked, say they are not allowed to.
- Appear anxious, depressed, tired or teary for no obvious reason.
- Appear timid, wary, self-critical or self-conscious around their partner, or their partner seems rude or nasty to them.
- Have injuries or time in hospital that raises your suspicion.
- Keep justifying their movements or expenses.
- State that they are being followed, monitored, stalked or controlled.
If you think that a friend, neighbour, relative, work colleague or an employee of yours is living with violence don’t dismiss it and don’t look the other way. If you are worried that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or you may be worried that the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care. If you approach them sensitively and express you concern for their well-being, most people will appreciate it. Even if they are not ready to talk about their situation or they tell you they don’t want support it is unlikely you will make things ‘worse’ by expressing concern.
Here are some ways you can help a family member or friend:
- Take their fears seriously.
- Violence is never ok. Don’t blame the person or minimise the abuser’s responsibility for the abuse.
- Remember that there are many barriers, difficult choices and often well-founded fears and concerns involved in leaving a violent partner – including an escalation in violence, homelessness and poverty. The victim/survivor may not be ready or it may not be safe to leave.
- Help them think about their options to get safe, whether leaving or staying.
- Help in practical ways – with transport, appointments, child minding, or a place to escape to. Find out about domestic and family violence services and offer to help with making an appointment.
Remember, domestic and family violence can be dangerous. Ring 000 if your family member, friend or their children are being harmed, or you are frightened they are about to be attacked.
You can find advice from the Domestic Violence Crisis Service website or contact them to discuss your options as a friend or family member further. You can do this anonymously.
You can also find helpful information following these links
Domestic, family and sexual violence is an issue for employers and workplaces because domestic violence, family violence, and sexual assault affects many Australians in paid work, and the health and safety of employees at home affects their health and safety at work. Whether the employee is a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence, employers and workplaces are directly impacted by domestic violence through absenteeism, staff turnover and lost productivity.
Workplaces are also part of the community response that can help to change attitudes and stamp out domestic and sexual violence.
Workplaces can also provide critical support for people experiencing domestic or family violence. Workplaces can do that by providing financial stability, contact and support outside the home, allowing victims to access leave entitlements to deal with practical issues like court attendance and housing needs, allowing flexibility in work hours or location where possible, and being part of safety planning.
- support employees who are or have been victims of violence that occurs out of the workplace, in their private lives (most commonly domestic or family violence and sexual assault)
- take action to prevent and respond to sexual harassment in the workplace
- address the underlying causes of violence against women by promoting gender equality in the workplace
- create a culture where employees feel confident to take bystander action if they see or hear about sexism, harassment, discrimination or violence in the workplace
Even if work colleagues are just ready to listen – and not dismiss the violence as a “domestic” – that can make a big difference too.
The Safe at Home, Safe at Work website provides a range of resources for employers and workplaces looking for information about domestic violence in the workplace and what to do about it, and anyone interested in learning more about why domestic and sexual violence is a workplace issue. http://www.dvandwork.unsw.edu.au/
For Service Providers
You should become informed about domestic, family and sexual violence and how it might relate to your clients so that you can respond appropriately to people who use your services. You can:
- obtain information from the Domestic Violence Crisis Service or the Canberra Rape Crisis Centre and educate your staff about effects of domestic and sexual violence and the warning signs.
- Have relevant pamphlets, cards, etc. available to give to people if and when she discloses.
- If someone discloses, know what advice to provide them and let them use your phone to call the DVCS or CRCC.
- Evaluate your policies and procedures and how they may impact on victims who access your service.
- Ensure your policies emphasise no tolerance of violence and are supportive of the needs of victims.
More information is available at the following link:
Domestic, family and sexual violence is not just a women’s issue. Men play an important part in making a difference in helping to stop domestic and family violence because men are more likely to listen to other men, and because fathers have enormous influence over the development of their children.
There are many opportunities and ways for men to make a difference:
- Be a positive role model to other men. If you know somebody who is abusive toward their partner tell them their behaviour is not okay and they need to get help to stop.
- Be a positive role model to children. If you know a child who is without a positive adult male figure you can help to provide consistent support and help the child to make a safety plan.
- Speak out against domestic violence. This can have a powerful effect in helping change attitudes and social norms that support and perpetuate abuse.
- Take on a leadership role in the ACT (such as a sports club, university, neighbourhood group or church group), and use this opportunity to speak out against violence.
- Participate in local community events to raise awareness of domestic violence.
For further information see:
For Parents and Caregivers
Parents and caregivers are key sources of information for their children and can promote positive messages and modelling about issues like respect, equality, consent and violence.