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Family Violence & Domestic Abuse: Information, Advice & Resources for Leaving Safely

Updated on October 24, 2017
Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz /
Image: Gregory Szarkiewicz /

In This Hub:

  • Signs of Domestic Violence

  • Emotional Abuse Tactics

  • Violence, Power & Control Wheel

  • Non-violence & Equality Wheel

  • Ok, so it's Abuse. What Now?

  • To Stay Or To Go
  • Create Your Own Destiny

  • How I became Safe at Last

  • My Journey, My Way

  • Don't Stay For The Kids
  • Don't Worry Be Happy
  • The Power Within

  • 45 Ways to Improve Your Life

  • A Poetic Guide to Healthy Loving

  • Links to related information and resources

Are you a victim of abuse?

Someone once asked me about domestic violence and what to do when someone, who you know is being abused, refuses any aid. She said “You can't help those who won't help themselves” and I agree. You see I used to be one of those people, but it was not because I enjoyed being unhappy or frightened. No woman chooses violence.

Many woman do not realize that they are experiencing domestic or family violence. This is particularly true when physical violence is not present (yet) and/or if physical violence is excused and eclipsed by emotional and/or psychological abuse. Mental/emotional abuse is never obvious, and the injuries it inflicts can be invisible, both to the victims and to others, and can take much longer to recognize. Once it is recognized, it also takes a lot longer to heal from the emotional and mental trauma which are invisible injuries that last a lot longer than bruises or broken bones. Indeed some bury so deep that they never do.

Further complicating things is that, because it is so hard to recognize, emotional abuse is also very easy to deny. Words can be twisted and distorted to justify and excuse, and of course the things that are said to hurt and manipulate you are only said behind closed doors. It can be hard to remember exactly what was said when your world feels like it is caving in, and the abuser will jump on this uncertainty to highlight your insanity and to once again shift the focus away from his own appalling behavior, which makes one feel unsure about what really happened, compounding one’s confusion and distress, and deterring one from objecting or trying to reason the next time it happens. In the end all you know is that you will do anything you can not to "upset" the abuser.

Following are 2 lists and diagrams to help the reader recognize the specific behaviors that together characterize the nature of family and interpersonal violence.

Emotional Abuse Tactics

  • Name Calling
  • Criticism & Put-downs
  • Yelling & Swearing
  • Sulking
  • Insulting you, your friends/family
  • Manipulation
  • Mind-games
  • Lying
  • Accusations
  • Jealousy
  • Emotional Blackmail
  • Mirroring (counter accusing)

Signs of Domestic Violence

  • Physical Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Social Abuse & Isolation
  • Psychological & Mental abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Economic Abuse
  • Jealousy
  • Intimidation, Coercion & Threats
  • Minimizing, Denying & Blaming
  • Using Children
  • Unequal Rights &/ Privileges
  • Spiritual Abuse

Violence, Power & Control

(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)
(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)

Freedom for me meant trusting myself instead of him! Your perpetrator will try to make you think you're crazy - You're NOT! Trust your own instinct, intelligence and strength!

Non-violence & Equality

(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)
(Please click on the image to view it at optimum size)

OK, so it's Abuse. What Now? > Creating Your Own Destiny

Do not live in the Darkness of the past, or let fear stop you from creating your own destiny. Take responsibility for your own happiness, and be the author of your own destiny. Find the light and add your own to its brilliance. ..

Walk Free From Fear!

(image by Petr Kratochvil,
(image by Petr Kratochvil,

No Right Or Wrong Decision

Domestic violence is reaching plague proportions in our society. As a society, we can inspire and enlighten. In our local communities, we can work together to raise awareness by providing easily accessible educational and practical information.

Despite such efforts, some victims may find it hard to accept that they are experiencing domestic violence. In such instances, patience, persistence and discretion can pay off, however it still has to be their own realizations that help them to decide whether to go or stay.

In all instances we should offer emotional, practical and financial support to victims who seek help, whether they need assistance to leave and ongoing support to move on afterwards, or if they need ongoing support to help keep themselves safe if they do decide to stay.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Once somebody has realized that they are not stupid, lazy or crazy, but in fact the victim of an abusive partner, they will need to decide if they are going to stay or go.

To help themselves decide, they may try to figure out if their partner is doing it on purpose or if they just don't know that it's wrong. While one can understand why a victim would want to know this, trying to determine whether a partner is being purposefully abusive or not is a hard thing to do, sometimes even for a professional.

If you are a victim who is asking this question, and your partner has never been physically abusive to you, then perhaps you could try choosing a "safe" moment to speak to your partner about their behavior, being sure to point out that, whether or not it is intentional, the behavior is causing you a great deal of emotional distress and is unacceptable.

With or Without You...

Let them know that they can get help if they wish to change their behavior, but that they must take responsibility for their own actions and be the one to decide to change.You cannot make the decision for them, or control what decision they make, and if you try to, any success will most likely be very short lived, and may even completely backfire on you, putting you right back to the beginning.

Hopefully, your partner will want to change their behavior too and the two of you can begin your journey of emotional growth together, but if they cannot take responsibility for their behavior and choose not to seek help, then you need to embark on that journey alone.

Decide For The Right Reasons

In any event, you will need to seek some professional guidance for yourself, and quite possibly for your children if you have any. If you are a parent, remember that staying in an abusive relationship "for the kid's sake" is actually far from the best thing for your child/ren. The best thing for them is doing whatever is best for YOU. Your kids will thrive under the nurturing guidance of a happy, functional parent.

Family Violence Support Services

In many cases, victims often access a network of support services in the first few months after a separation. In most cases, if there has been a history of family violence, and you are unemployed or on a lower income, many of these services can be offered for free.

In Australia, most Magistrate Courts have a Family Violence Service Office either in the court complex or in an adjacent building. I would recommend this service as the first port of call for any victim seeking information and/or support. The case workers are fantastic, and can offer many things including:

  • Crisis counseling
  • Referrals to refuges
  • Referrals to or information about womens, childrens and/or financial counseling and support services
  • Immediate basic legal assistance with restraining order applications and legal aid applications
  • Court support
  • Victim advocacy and support
  • Emergency Information Packages and many other resources

No Matter What, Keep a Diary

If you are still undecided about what to do, or if you have decided to stay, I will still advise getting some professional support. One of the best pieces of practical advice I can offer you is to KEEP A DIARY. Even if you only make brief notes about any incidents, conversations or fights, it will help you to have a clear memory of things as time goes by, and it will also help to keep you sane . Personally, I would suggest you do not tell your partner about it, and that you keep it in a safe place.

If you have left and your abusive ex partner is still harassing you, then I believe it essential that you keep a diary. Make a record of all unwanted visits, conversations, phone calls, text messages, emails or times when you see their car in your street or "bump" into them at your local shops even though they live half an hour away.

Also make a record of things that may seem insignificant such as phone calls from private numbers in the middle of the night that then hang up or don't speak or finding things in your house or garage/shed moved around. If you notice something really strange and find yourself thinking "I must just be paranoid", don't just shrug it off, still keep a record of it.

Trust Your OWN Instincts

There is a big difference between being paranoid and hyper-vigilant, and most victims of domestic violence will experience moments of hyper- vigilance after abuse. These people often realize that they seem more vigilant than would be normal,but they are not in a normal situation, and may not realize such feelings are quite natural. They will often incorrectly identify their feelings and the resulting behavior as paranoia instead of hyper-vigilance where a true paranoiac would simply not even think to ask themselves if they were being paranoid, they would simply be certain that someone was doing something or something was happening.

So trust your instincts and don't doubt your intelligence, and keep a good record of things in a diary. You don't need to act immediately regarding feelings or uncertainties such as these, but keeping a record of strange or unlikely occurrences can build a picture over time and will be extremely useful if you ever do need to take action, particularly if you end up needing to obtain a restraining order.

Don't Worry, Be Happy

On a more positive note, things can get better, you just have to choose to make them better. It will be a hard decision to make and the journey just as difficult, but more than worth the effort in the end.Remember, help is available, you just have to find it and then ask for it!

Finally, don't forget how powerful your thoughts can be. Try not to worry too much and think positively as much as you can. Deal with your grief, but save all the painful memories and feelings of hurt, confusion, anger and fear for those hours when you are with your counselor. If you ruminate, you'll just get stuck into a different kind of rut. The more you practice being positive, by thinking positively and talking positively, the easier it will become until it just comes naturally. Please read my other hubs for inspiration and enlightenment. Stay strong, keep safe, let your light shine and good luck.

Don't Stay For The Kids!

Seek Professional Support

Image by Petr Kratochvil -
Image by Petr Kratochvil -


Image by Anna Cervova
Image by Anna Cervova

The Power Within!

Never forget the quantum physics behind it all.

Do not live in the Darkness of the past,

Or let fear stop you from creating your own destiny.

You have the knowledge to liberate yourself from those fears,

And the Light of your brilliance can shine once again.

So take responsibility for your own happiness,

And be the author of your own destiny.

There is no choice between Darkness & Light,

Darkness is but the absence of Light.

And how boring would the nothingness of Darkness be,

Compared to the Light of Creation,

In a Universe of infinite possibilities?

You have the Power, now use it!

Be Inspired...

45 Ways to Improve Your Life

  1. Forgive people. Do not forgive them for the purpose of giving them another chance, but to give yourself the chance to let go. Then forgive yourself too.
  2. Let the universe seek its own revenge. Karma will be punishment enough, so leave them to their fate, and return to your own journey.
  3. Love and believe in yourself. Then the love and warmth you seek will be able find you.
  4. Dream more while you are awake.
  5. Watch the documentary called "What the bleep do we know".
  6. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
  7. Don't waste your precious mental energy on gossip, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your positive energy in the present moment.
  8. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.
  9. No matter what - hang in there!
  10. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  11. Don't keep dark secrets - they will keep you sick. At the very least, share them with a stranger.
  12. Don't waste time hating anyone. Hate only feeds the darkness and leaves you cold, alone and empty.
  13. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.
  14. Make time to practice meditation and/or prayer.
  15. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of six.
  16. Each night before you go to bed, consider what you have accomplished, and what you have to be thankful for.
  17. Treat others as you would like to be treated.
  18. Don't be a gossip.
  19. Think positive thoughts.
  20. Take time out to appreciate a scenic view, watch children play or smell the flowers.
  21. Do the right thing. Give of yourself for the greater good!
  22. Perform a good deed, and don't tell anyone.
  23. Have a sense of purpose that gives you direction.
  24. Smile. It is the ultimate antidepressant.
  25. Keep a diary.
  26. Stay in touch with family and friends.
  27. Take responsibility of your own happiness and be the author of your own destiny.
  28. Live with the 3 E's - Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.
  29. Take a walk every day, or do some other exercise.
  30. Play more games and read more books.
  31. Buy a DVR and record your late night shows and get more sleep.
  32. Clean clutter from your house, your car, your desk, and let new and flowing energy into your life.
  33. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants. Eat less food that is manufactured in plants!
  34. Drink green tea and plenty of water.
  35. Take the scenic route for a change.
  36. Make a "To Do" List and try to get at least one thing on the list done each day.
  37. Take a moment everyday to appreciate what you have.
  38. Try to make at least 3 people smile each day.
  39. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful, or joyful.
  40. Call your family often... (Or email them to death!)
  41. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.
  42. Don't try to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
  43. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  44. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"
  45. Ask, Believe, Receive.

Please read my other articles on this topic:

(Disclaimer) Please Note:

All names in this article have been changed for legal purposes and to protect the privacy of the Author. Except where otherwise credited, or where text forms part of an external link, this article is under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last", of Perth, Western Australia. All rights reserved.

All persons, places and objects shown in the images in this hub are are shown for illustrative purposes only. They bear no relation to any real person or event. All persons shown are paid models. Unless otherwise credited, all images are under the following copyright:

Copyright © 2010 Mel Stewart, "safe-at-last" and Licensors Nodtronics Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.


Submit a Comment
  • Rob M Nash profile image

    Rob M Nash 

    2 years ago from USA

    just posted article on same topic. nice job. thanks.

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    5 years ago from Western Australia

    I have posted some on my page STOP the Violence Against Women & Children ( which you should be able to find here:

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    Even if I click to see the two 'wheels' of violence and non-violence, they're still too small to see. I'd like to give these to a friend, but wonder how I can get them in a readable document?? thank you

  • profile image

    Barbara Roberts 

    8 years ago

    I have linked to this wonderful article at the blog

    A Cry For Justice. Thank you so much.

  • profile image

    Barbara Roberts 

    8 years ago

    Family Law in Australia is changing.

    See here

    Hopefully it will make it easier for protective parents to get the court to limit the abusive parent from having contact with their kids.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    Thanks so much for this encouraging story. I'm trying to escape something similar myself. We've been married 3 years, and at first it was just little stuff. Telling me what a stupid b*tch I was when I didn't keep the house exactly the way he wanted it. Soon it escalated to physical violence.

    I've had a black eye, severe headaches, and other small wounds. I've never told anyone, since all our friends are his friends, not mine. I'm not allowed to have friends, and my family is way out of the picture for me.

    He moved us to China, isolating me further. No job, no friends, and I can't learn the language (no classes, since it would take away from my 'housecare' time). My whole existence is to cook, clean, and do laundry. Anything beyond that isn't a 'woman's job.'

    Trying to escape is tough, since there isn't any money in the house, and I don't have enough left from before we were married to do anything. A plane ticket is very expensive, and I just don't know where to turn. I can't get help from anyone, since the Chinese don't care about domestic violence, we're nowhere near an embassy, and I can't function in the society.

    Trying to get the money online, but it is taking forever. I need to get out of here, before I'm taken back to the states in a body bag!!!

  • profile image

    9 years ago

    Wow - I'm a survivor with a "restraining" order, though it's true, shared parenting is hard on the kids when the father is an abuser. Whatever you do, get primary care and control and final decision making with no need to consult. Joint custody is something you'll have a hard time fighting, but if you can prove it's difficult/impossible to reason with, negotiate, etc.

    Also... start speaking out - reach out to your friend, a neighbour, someone... start talking about what's going on, then you'll soon understand it's real and it's wrong. Once you start to talk, freedom starts to come. The road will not be easy, but it will be better than living in fear, on eggshells, in limbo. I'm sending love and sisterhood to anyone struggling with this. We're intelligent women and we will get through together.

  • profile image

    Gloria S 

    9 years ago

    It took me 3.5 months to realize I was a victim of DM

    Lucky for me I always kept a diary.

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I wish i knew about this sooner

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    pf thank you for your comment. I think you will probably have a similar reaction to most of my hubs... And yes, it is a shame what women and children are going through!

  • profile image


    10 years ago

    Amazing - I can't beleieve I have parallelled so much of what is on this hub! It has been 3 yrs of hell. It took me 18mths to work out that it was DV, that I had reactive depression, hypervigilance. Then after 2 1/2 yrs I realised I had C-PTSD. Through so much searching on the net, I found Vipassana (but a little hard to 'let go' when your children are so young.)I discovered 'What the Bleep, Down the Rabbit Hole' (extended version is best!) and have read numerous self help books such as Louise Hay, The Secret, Road Less Travelled, The Brain that Changes Itself, Celestine Prophecy, Secret to a Bullet Proof Spirit, Why bad things happen to good people, Sociopath Nextdoor, ....After a horrific time, I am now getting a 'little' valaidation and justice from this primitive, patriachical, arrogant, insensitive and inadequate legal system. I have been destroyed financially, injured psychologically, socially isolated among many other things, yet I can not get compensation, justice or validation for what has been done to me and my children. My exhusband and his lawyer (they got involved and are now married) are living the high life, his life has never been better and I am struggling to exist and raise his children at my expense. The injustice of the whole situation is cruel because it empowers and rewards the perpetrator/bully yet punishes the mother/primary carer. We all know what the statistics say about women who experience domestic violence: worse mortality, morbidity, decreased quality of life, decreased life opportunities etc. This adversely affects your relationship with your children and every other aspect of your life. Functional carers are being destroyed when they should be supported, protected, validated and empowered at the start. Shared parenting does NOT work when there is a history of domestic violence. What happens to women and children in these circumstances is inhumane, incomprehensible and so wrong. It is just not good enough. I never realised how patriarchical our country, our western modern world really was.

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Thanks CC. I really hope this helps someone, somewhere, by encouraging them to take the first step towards becoming the author of their own destiny!

  • Chaotic Chica profile image

    Chaotic Chica 

    10 years ago

    ~Standing ovation~ Very good hub!!!! There was not a single thing on here that I disagreed with. I only wish I had thought to do the diary thing.

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Thanks Anne. I hope it helps someone somewhere....

  • profile image

    Anne. D 

    10 years ago

    You're doing a great job. Hang in there. The list above is good for all of us. Thanks for this. Take care

  • safe-at-last profile imageAUTHOR

    Mel Stewart 

    10 years ago from Western Australia

    Hi K A

    Yes I agree. Too many women do not even know that they are experiencing domestic violence...

    Thanks for the feedback and the praise!

    We are all well, although I'm a bit paranoid right now... Hope ypu are well too, and BTW still waiting for that email LOL!


  • Kaie Arwen profile image

    Kaie Arwen 

    10 years ago

    this was great; I wish I had had this list to peruse a very long time ago..........

    my advice to anyone who reads and needs this............. follow the advice; it's good!

    safe-at-last........... hope you're well. I owe you an email; haven't forgotten :-)


  • romper20 profile image


    10 years ago from California

    awesome collection of scenery and information :)

    Take it easy,



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