Family violence is when a partner or family member hurts you or tries to control what you do.
Family violence includes physical things like hitting, pushing, smashing things or locking you in. Family violence isn’t just physical assault. It can also be:
- Stopping you seeing family or friends
- Pressuring, tricking or forcing you to do sexual things
- Threatening to hurt you, your kids, family members or a pet
- Calling you names or deliberately making you feel bad
- Stopping you having any money
- Constantly checking where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re talking to
These things can hurt you just as much as physical violence.
You and your children have the right to live free from violence and fear.
What family violence can look like
Threats - your partner saying they will hurt you or the children if you do not do what they want.
Intimidation - making you afraid with looks, actions and gestures.
Using children - using contact visits to harass you or forcing children to relay threatening messages.
Isolation - controlling what you do, who you see or talk to. Smothering you with attention so you can’t contact others.
Economic/Financial abuse - controlling your access to money and property or refusing to give you any money.
Sexual assault - any sexual act that you do not fully agree to, including rape, indecent assault and forcing you to view pornography.
Spiritual abuse - manipulating you with religious or spiritual beliefs, stopping you from practicing your beliefs, forcing the children to be reared in a particular faith.
Technology-facilitated abuse - using technology to threaten, control, stalk or harass you.
Visa abuse - using the fact that you don't have permanent residency or citizenship as a way to control you.
Verbal/Emotional abuse - using words or behaviours to manipulate, intimidate, and control you. This might include insulting you, yelling at you, and trying to scare you.
Psychological abuse - using words and behaviours to frighten and manipulate you, which may make you feel confused and doubt yourself.
How will the violence affect me?
You might feel:
- Powerless, afraid, depressed, humiliated, or like you don't want to see or talk to anyone else
- Angry, frustrated, anxious, sad
- Like you’ve tried everything, and nothing works
- Ashamed or embarrassed
- Worried about money
- Confused because sometimes your partner is loving and kind
- A sense of failure about your relationship
- Afraid of more violence and harassment if you leave
- Guilty about leaving or scared of coping alone
These are all normal things to feel, especially after a stressful or traumatic experience. They are also temporary. Help is available, and it is possible to heal and recover from your experiences.
GenWest can help women, LGBTIQA+ people, children, young people and families who are experiencing family violence.
GenWest is part of the Orange Door network.
This means that most of our family violence support services are now based at the Orange Door. If you would like to refer yourself or someone else to our family violence support services, visit the Orange Door website and enter your postcode.
You can phone or email the Orange Door nearest you, and they can connect you with GenWest's First Response workers as well as any other services and support you might need.
The Orange Door network can support you by meeting with you in person at a location near you, or by phone or email.
The Orange door brings together workers from:
- Family services
- Aboriginal services
- Services for men who use violence
You should contact The Orange Door if:
- Someone close to you is hurting you, controlling you or making you feel afraid – such as your partner, family member, carer or parent(s)
- You are a child or young person who doesn’t have what you need to be OK
- You are worried about the safety of a friend or family member
- You need more support with the care of children, e.g. due to money issues, illness, addiction, grief, isolation or conflict
- You are worried about the safety of a child or young person
- You need help to change your behaviour and stop using violence in your relationships
The Orange Door is a free service. Workers can organise an interpreter if you need one.
The Orange Door welcomes everyone, regardless of migration status. You can seek help or support if you are a migrant or a refugee or do not have permanent residency.
Family violence is a leading cause of homelessness. If you aren’t safe and don’t have anywhere to go, call Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.
Where to find housing support in an emergency
GenWest do not provide urgent emergency accommodation.
You can contact the Orange Door nearest you to find out more about what housing options might be best for you, but we won’t be able to support you with emergency accommodation on the same day you call us.
If you are feeling unsafe in your home and need to get out quickly, call the police on 000 or Safe Steps on 1800 015 188. They can help you any time of the day or night.
Housing support we provide
GenWest runs a secure refuge in a safe location. We also have some private apartments where you can stay if you need to escape family violence and leave your home.
To access these options, you need to be referred by Safe Steps. Phone them on 1800 015 188.
Our case managers can also support you to stay in your own home by making it safer for you. They can discuss your options with you and complete an assessment.
Housing support in your own language
If you are from another country and are escaping family violence, we can organise short term crisis accommodation for you. You’ll be supported by a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Case Manager.
They can speak with other services for you and provide:
- Emotional support and counselling
- Help to make you and your children safe
- Court support including helping you apply for a court order so that the person hurting you or your children leaves the home and/or stays away from you
- Referrals to other services that can help
If you speak a language other than English, the worker can use an interpreter and can help you look for support services in your own language.
Call us on 1800 436 937, you can ask to speak to the CALD Case Manager.
Staying safely in your own home
The Safe at Home program supports you (and your children if you have any) to stay at home and have the violent person leave.
Staying in your home reduces your risk of homelessness, and your risk of losing connection to your job, community, school, friends, family and other support networks.
Call our Client and Residency Management (CARM) team on 1800 436 967 and they can assess if this program would be right for you.
Our case managers can also organise private rental brokerage. This can help you to stay in your area in private rented accommodation. We can organise a limited rental subsidy which can help you to pay rent when you move into a new home. Your case manager will explain whether this program is right for you.
You and your children are not responsible for the violence or abuse you experience.
You can do things that might keep you safer, but if the violence continues it is not your fault.
GenWest provides counselling and therapeutic groups for children and young people in the western metropolitan region who have experienced family violence.
We offer child and youth counselling sessions in various locations including Melton, Hoppers Crossing and Footscray.
GenWest’s Child and Youth Counselling support
We can assist adults to create a supportive environment for children who have experienced family violence. We can support you to understand and respond to the child’s behaviours, which may be resulting from trauma.
Counselling for children and young people is available as one-off therapy sessions, short term counselling (three or six sessions), medium term counselling (three to six months of counselling sessions) or long term counselling (up to a year).
We also offer therapeutic groups, including SPLASh (Safe Place for Laughter, Arts and Sharing). SPLASh is a therapeutic, creative arts group for children aged between 8 and 12 who have experienced family violence.
Parents’ or carers’ involvement in children’s counselling is crucial to a child’s recovery. It can help you to understand what your child’s behaviour may be communicating about their emotional experiences.
Children’s and youth counselling is free to children in the west who have experienced family violence. GenWest do not offer counselling for adults, however other services do, and we can link you in with them.
Call us on 1800 436 967 to find out about accessing our Children’s and Youth Counselling service.
The Court Support service at GenWest is currently on hold. However, our First Response team can continue to provide information about family violence intervention orders and where to go for legal help and support.
Where to go for help?
Court Network is a free, confidential community service provided by volunteers for all court users in Victoria. If you or someone you know is going to court, you can contact Court Network and they can:
- Give information about going to court
- Explain court processes
- Provide information about accessing legal support
- Help you with completing online applications and forms, and more
Website: The Court Network
Phone: 1800 571 239 (Monday – Friday, 9AM – 4PM)
Online referral: The Court Network online referral
The duty lawyer gives free legal advice to people going to court on their hearing day. You can request a referral to a duty lawyer for your family violence intervention order hearing by completing one of the following forms:
- Pre-court information form: Applicant or Affected Family Member
- Pre-court information form: Respondent
Victoria Legal Aid
Phone: Legal Help on 1300 792 387 (Monday – Friday, 8AM to 5PM)
Find legal answers online: Victoria Legal Aid
For criminal matters or if you have been identified as the Respondent in a family violence intervention order, you can request: Help Before Court
Legal support services
You can talk to one of the free legal services listed below or contact a private lawyer.
Community Legal Centre
Phone:03 9652 1500
Phone:1800 105 303
LGBTIQ+ Legal Service
Hours: 10am – 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday
Phone: 03 9113 9500
If you are experiencing family violence, please feel free to contact us and we can link you with services that can support you.
We do not offer counselling for victim-survivors directly, but we do offer counselling for children and young people.
Numbers to call if you need someone to talk to:
- 1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
- Cohealth: 03 9448 5521
- Djirra: (support for Aboriginal people) 1800 105 303
- Elizabeth Morgan House (support for Aboriginal women and children): 9403 9400
- InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence (for refugee and migrant victim-survivors): 1800 755 988
- Rainbow Door (support for LGBTIQA+ people): 1800 729 367
- Western Region Centre Against Sexual Assault (WestCASA): 9216 0444
Read our resources:
- GenWest's Family Violence Support Services
- Family Violence Service Help Sheet
- My Safety Plan
- Choosing Positive Paths
- Child and Youth Counselling resources
- Counselling Zine: What children and young people want you to know about counselling at GenWest
- Aryan's Story: The Puppy's Life
If you are working in a community, health or other support organisation and are working with clients experiencing family violence, the section family violence information for professionals will help you find out more about the support and brokerage services we offer and how to refer a client to us.
Family violence support resourcesView all
My Safety Plan
This safety plan booklet contains ideas and information that others have found useful when they have left a violent relationship.Read more
Family Violence Service Help Sheet
This resource lists family violence support services in the western region and some statewide services.Read more
Child and Youth Counselling resources
The children’s counselling team at GenWest offers counselling and therapeutic groups for children and young people in the Melbourne's west who have experienced family violence.Read more