Know the Signs of Family Violence & How to Get Help for Yourself or a Loved One

Family Violence

You may not believe it’s that common, but family violence is a serious issue that affects millions of Australians every year. It is quite an alarming fact that on average, around 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men in Australia are victims of domestic violence.

Even children can be subjected to violence in the family. However, it is possible for victims to be unaware that they are suffering from domestic violence. Similarly, they may not know how they can seek help when they are suffering. This article outlines how to identify the main warning signs of domestic violence and what steps you can take to protect yourself and your loved ones.

What Is Family Violence?

When it comes to understanding what are the root causes of any family violence, you must understand what you’re dealing with in the first place. Family violence occurs when a person uses violence or manipulation to maintain power and control over someone who is close to them. Cases of domestic abuse can involve a partner, ex-partner, carer or guardian, family member, or anyone who is in close contact with another person. Anyone, regardless of factors such as background, sex or gender, can potentially find themselves in the midst of an abusive relationship.

What Are the Types of Family Violence?

This abuse can take many forms, including:

  • Physical violence – occurs when yourself or a loved one is physically hurt as a result of hitting, slapping, pushing, biting, kicking, throwing or breaking things in your home or hurting your pets. Most times, physical violence can include threats to hurt you or another family member in these ways.
  • Verbal violence – occurs when someone yells mean and nasty things at you or family members, calls you rude names, shouts, or talks in a threatening manner.
  • Sexual violence – occurs when you or a family member is a victim of sexual abuse in any form.
  • Neglect – occurs when you or a member of your family is being mistreated as a result of inadequate care. This can include not being given enough food, clean clothes, safety, attention, affection and love.

Who Suffers the Most From Family Violence?

Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity and religion. However, women are statistically more likely to be victims of domestic abuse at the hands of a partner or a loved one. For this reason, domestic violence is one of the major risk factors affecting women’s health in Australia.

Often, violence between partners is the most common form of domestic abuse. This is because a toxic cycle of abuse is often observed in cases of partner violence. It begins with a build-up, wherein tension starts to increase with verbal, emotional or financial abuse occurring. The abuser can turn moody and withdraw affection, upon which the victim can feel that they must check their behaviour to avoid triggering the abuser.

This leads to an explosion, where things erupt and may result in violence. At a later stage, the abuser may feel remorse and attempt to justify their behaviour while promising it won’t happen again. This then leads to a honeymoon phase, where the abuser may shower the person being abused with gifts and affection. Once this period has passed, both the abuser and the abused may try to justify the event, even denying how bad it really was. After that, the vicious cycle continues again.

What Effect Does Family Violence Have On a Person’s Mental Health?

There is a ton of evidence which suggests that family violence can have a significant negative impact on the mental health of the victims, or other family members who witness it. When you are constantly feeling unsafe in your own home or with the people who are meant to love you, you can end up feeling very afraid, unable to relax, powerless or ashamed. This can result in long-term physical and psychological trauma, and affect sleep, appetite, concentration or other relationships.

It is a fact that victims of domestic abuse are more likely to suffer from or develop depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other disorders. Family violence can also cause individuals to develop a drug or alcohol habit and, in extreme cases, can even lead to suicide.

Children can also be victims of abuse, and those who grow up in a family with domestic violence are at a higher risk of developing mental illnesses or becoming perpetrators or victims of family violence as adults.

Top 8 Signs Which Indicate Family Violence

The first step to dealing with domestic violence is to identify the signs early on before it spirals out of control. These signs are:

Withdrawing From Friends & Family Gradually or Slowly

People suffering from abuse tend to isolate themselves and avoid interacting with their family or close friends. If you notice that yourself or a loved one seems unusually quiet, lacks confidence and doesn’t catch up with friends and family as frequently as they used to, chances are that there’s something deeper going on there.

Controlling Behaviour From Partner or Family Member

Controlling behaviour is not always obvious. To identify this, there are some subtle red flags you need to look out for. Statements such as ‘they don’t like it if I don’t let them know where I am’ or ‘they are always checking my text messages or emails’ are clear examples of situations where a person is probably being controlled or dominated by a partner or family member.

Partner or Family Member Prone to Outbursts of Jealousy or Anger

If you notice that your partner or family member gets jealous or angry very quickly, often at minor, insignificant things, then there is a chance that you are being subjected to a form of family violence.

Anxious Behaviour or Seeming Nervous

Anxiety and fear often go hand in hand. If you notice yourself or a loved one getting anxious or watching their behaviour around a partner, they might be afraid of them. Nobody should be afraid of someone who is meant to love them, so if they are, then there is a chance that they are being abused.

Being Publicly Disrespected or Made Fun of

Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. If you or a loved one has a partner who always criticises you in public and makes you feel small in front of family, friends or colleagues, then you are a victim of verbal and psychological abuse.

Being Pressured Into Performing Sexual Favours or Acts

Consent is everything. If you or a loved one has ever felt pressured by a partner or family member into performing sexual acts against your will, then this is indicative of sexual violence.

Being Subjected to Physical Violence at Any Time

This a one of the most obvious signs of family violence. Any behaviour from a partner or family member that involves you being hit, restrained or attacked physically is a clear sign of domestic abuse.

Signs of Injury That Could Be Evidence of Physical Violence

Physical injuries such as bruises, broken bones or abrasions almost always indicate severe forms of domestic violence in a family. Sure, injuries can occur in a number of ways, but if you notice that a person is evasive, upset or gives unlikely explanations when asked about the injuries, this means that they are probably being subjected to family violence.

What Can You Do to Help Yourself or A Loved One?

Victims of family abuse can feel like they are responsible for their own predicament. The first thing you need to remember is that abuse is never your fault. If you are suffering from family violence, here are some things you can do to help yourself:

  • Do not be afraid to speak up. It is important to speak to someone you trust and who will listen to you. This can be anyone in your own family, friends, parents, a counsellor, your teacher, the police or another trusted adult.
  • Seek help from as many people as you can. If you ever feel that you aren’t being heard or that your problem is not being fixed, keep telling people until someone takes action and makes you feel safe. You may even just need them to provide support more regularly as you work at leaving the situation. There are helplines that can assist you in times of crisis.
  • Remember that your body belongs to you. If you ever feel that somebody is taking advantage of you, it is completely okay to firmly tell them to stop. In most cases of sexual family violence, the victim is afraid of facing the consequences of speaking up and so they remain silent. However, your body is yours and nobody has a say over that.

If you notice a loved one is going through family violence or you suspect it is happened, here is how you can help them:

  • Talk to the person gently and express your concern to them. If they seem uncomfortable, don’t push them to talk. Instead, let them know you are there for them and will help them if they ever need anything.
  • If they confide in you, listen to what they have to say and believe them. Offer them comfort, understanding and support.
  • Try not to appear shocked. This can make them feel self-conscious or ashamed.
  • Encourage them to speak to an adult they trust or file a police report and offer to accompany them if they want.
  • To ensure the person is made safe and that the abuse does not continue to happen, offer them phone numbers of services that can help them.
  • Offer them courage and urge them to continue telling people until they feel reassured and are safe from abuse.

Find the Best Family Lawyers at Duffy & Simon

We understand that at times, seeking help can be difficult and overwhelming. This is why our team of family lawyers at Duffy & Simon are willing to do everything in their power to assist you and offer legal advice and support that can secure your safety from family violence. To secure intervention orders and other safety measures for yourself and your children, call us on 1300 537 345 today!