If you are in immediate danger, please call 000.

Content warning: there are mentions of violence and abuse throughout this page

With the government’s advice on self-isolation during COVID-19, we are concerned about the reports of increased cases of family and domestic violence during this time.

In response, this is a dedicated resource focused on addressing family violence and domestic violence, and the potential increased impact this may have on young people.

Fear, anxiety, economic issues or isolation can be triggers to some type of violence in the household during quarantine for COVID-19. This document contains information regarding family violence and domestic violence and a list of resources to access during COVID-19 household isolation.

How to identify family and/or domestic violence

Family and domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, and anybody can be an abuser. This includes your partner in a relationship, ex-partners, carers and support workers, family members, and other people you see regularly (such as housemates).

When we say family and domestic violence and abuse, it means when someone repeatedly over time:

  • does or says something that makes you feel upset or scared
  • does or says something which hurts you
  • takes away your rights

There are different types of violence and abuse:

  • physical
  • sexual
  • emotional
  • financial
  • neglect
  • discrimination

The following examples are signs of coercive control. Does someone in your life ever:

  • Belittle you, or put you down?
  • Blame you for the abuse or arguments or downplay it?
  • Stop you going from calling your friends and/or other family members?
  • Make unreasonable demands for your attention?
  • Tell you what to wear, what to do, and how to behave?
  • Stalk you in public?
  • Share photos/videos without your consent?
  • Threaten to hurt you physically in any way?
  • Destroy things that belong to you?
  • Threaten to kill themselves or other family members?
  • Monitor your social media (your profiles, emails, texts or letters)?
  • Hurt you during sex or pressure you to have (unsafe) sex?
  • Threatens to out you for your sexuality or gender identity?
  • Prevent you from seeking services, support or help?
  • Withhold or prevent you from accessing medication?
  • Control your finances?

These are only some examples of family and domestic violence/abuse. You can find an extensive list of examples and scenarios on the 1800 Respect website and Victorian Government’s BetterHealth website channel.

Abusers have taken advantage of the fear and anxiety regarding COVID-19 to maintain their control over their victims. There have been reports of abusers threatening to infect victims with COVID-19, or using COVID-19 to prevent someone from leaving an abusive situation.

Have you experienced any of the examples above? If you are currently unsafe during isolation, we urge you to consider the signs, consider any triggers and how you can avoid them for the time being, and if possible, seek immediate help. If you are in immediate danger, please call 000.

What to do if you are experiencing family or domestic violence

  1. Create your support and safety network. Because of physical distancing, the best way to do this is to set up some speed dials on your phone with people that might be able to help you or listen to you when you are in need. This can include a specialist family violence support worker if you have one. Another idea is to create a WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger chat with 2-3 people you trust and establish a safe word or code in case you need their help. For example, you could agree that when you ask them for something specific such as toilet paper, that they know they should call the police or check in with you.
  2. Create a safety plan. This plan supports you and your network on how to respond to future abusive or violent incidents, how to prepare for the possibility of an incident happening, and how to get to safety with trusted family, friends, co-workers or neighbours. If you are unsure of how to do this, seek help through some of the resources listed on the bottom of this article. 1800 RESPECT has created a good guide to how to make a safety plan here.
  3. Rely on your community. In  many residential areas, your neighbours and local businesses can be your closest support. Keep in regular communication with them and share how you are feeling. They can periodically check in on you and give you support without it seeming suspicious.
  4. Look for online services. There are many resources on the internet that you can access free of charge for counselling and support. Don’t feel afraid to share your experiences, as these resources are completely confidential. We have provided a list below.
  5. Cover your online activity. If you are isolated for a long period of time, it could be useful to learn how to erase your online search history so no one can monitor your activity. Most pages have information on how to erase your search history, or have an emergency button you can click to leave the page immediately if required.
  6. Go to a refuge. These are shelters that provide safe temporary accommodation. They can also provide other services such as legal advice, emotional support, food and clothing. Right now, there may be changes to services by crisis accommodation or a refuge, so we recommend calling 1800 RESPECT or the safe steps Family Violence Response Centre for a referral and updated advice. You can also check the Orange Door to see what your nearest service is.
  7. Stay with family or a friend. Ask a trusted family member or friend if you can stay with them while you work out what to do next.
  8. Talk to emergency services or the police. If you are in immediate danger, call the police on 000 or other emergency services.

Resources to access during COVID-19 isolation

24/7 support services

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 000
  • Orange Door - Orange Door is a dedicated hub of specialist services for family and domestic violence across the state funded by the Victorian Government. Some local regions will have Orange Door hubs, while others are still being set-up.
  • 1800RESPECT – Call 1800 737 732 for support to people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
  • safe steps Family Violence Response Centre – Call 1800 015 188 for professional help to understand your situation, explore your options, work with you to develop a plan to ensure the immediate safety of you and your closed ones, and, if needed, connect you with other support services e.g. crisis accommodation, economical and logistical advice, migrant services, etc.
  • Centre Against Sexual Assault (CASA) - Call 03 9635 3610 for phone support from CASA, who focus on case work for people who have experienced sexual assault.
  • Lifeline - Call 13 11 14 for crisis support and counselling, with a focus on suicide prevention.
  • Kids Helpline - Call 1800 55 1800 for free, private and confidential phone and online counselling services for young people aged 5 to 25.
  • Sexual Assault Crisis Line (SACL) - Call 1800 806 292 (weeknights 5pm- 9am, weekends and public holidays 24/7). SACL provides telephone crisis counselling and support to people who have experienced sexual assault. Afterhours crisis care response is also available for victims of recent sexual assault, and referrals to appropriate services for ongoing support.

Other services and resources

  • Women's Information Referral and Exchange (WIRE) - Call 300 134 130 (weekdays 9am-5pm), email at support@wire.org.au, and text chat (9.30am- 4.30pm).WIRE provide risk assessment, support, information and referral for all Victorian women, nonbinary and gender-diverse people.
  • Men’s Referral Service - No to Violence (NTV)- Call 1300 766 491 (weekdays 8am–9pm, weekends 9am-5pm) or text chat (weekdays 8am–9pm, weekends and public holidays 10am-3pm). The Men’s Referral Service provides telephone counselling, information, and referral services for support for men, as well as women seeking information on behalf of their male partners, friends or family members.
  • QLife – Call 1800 184 527 (everyday 6pm-10pm) or text chat (everyday 3:00pm-12am). QLife provides anonymous and free LGBTIQA+ peer support and referral for people in Australia wanting to talk about sexuality, identity, gender, bodies, feelings or relationships.
  • WithRespect - Call 1800 542 847 (Wednesday 5:00pm-11:00pm, weekends 10:00am-10:00pm). If you call afterhours, leave a message and your call will be returned during the listed hours. WithRespect is an LGBTIQA+ family violence service that provides resources and support for those experiencing difficulty in their relationships, including family violence.
  • What's Okay at Home? - When something’s not right at home, or in your family, you can access some crucial online information tailored to those aged 10 to 13 years, 14 to 17 years, and adult allies.

This resource was developed by Julian Garrido, who is volunteering his time with YACVic's Media and Communications team. If you have any suggested changes or any questions, please email info@yacvic.org.au.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 000.