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Don’t deal with family violence alone

Sad woman looks out of a window.

Monday 4 May 2020

Mount Alexander Shire Council is urging anyone at risk of family violence to seek the help you need from the dedicated support services available.

While we are all being asked to stay at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19, home may not be the safest place for everyone.

“It is important to know that anyone exposed to family violence can seek help, and it is ok to leave home to escape harm,” said Gaynor Atkin, Pandemic Coordinator, Mount Alexander Shire Council.

“Family violence, sexual assault and homelessness services continue to operate across the region, in addition to state and national services that operate around the clock 24/7 to help keep you safe.”

Unfortunately, there is always an increased risk of family violence associated with an emergency, and there are concerns the stay at home directions with COVID-19 bring additional risks.

Some people may be at risk of being socially isolated with an abuser in quarantine, and access to family, friends and support networks may be limited.

“If you feel you and your family are not safe at home, there are people you can talk to and services available to support you.
“The stay at home restrictions do allow you to leave your home for emergency purposes, to escape harm or the risk of harm, and for care and compassionate reasons.”

Family violence is never ok, no matter what the circumstances. Family violence can take many forms: physical, sexual, emotional, social, economic, psychological, and spiritual.

Anyone can experience family violence: women, children and men. The majority of family violence incidents are experienced by women as gender based violence. Women of the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) and Indigenous communities, and people with disabilities are more vulnerable.

The Centre for Non-Violence based in Bendigo offers a range of services including safety planning, counselling, financial counselling and access to emergency accommodation.

They offer phone support and online information including frequently asked questions like can I leave my house if unsafe, developing a safety plan, how to safely call for help, how to help your children or access culturally appropriate support.

Safe Steps provides an 1800 response line which is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Social isolation is no excuse for violence. The Men’s Referral Service also provides help and support for people concerned about their own behavior.

Victoria Police are also committed to keeping community members safe as part of a dedicated police operation tackling family violence during the coronavirus pandemic.

As part of Operation Ribbon, members of the Family Violence Investigation Unit are checking on the wellbeing of at-risk families across the state. They are also identifying and following up with known perpetrators to make sure they comply with conditions placed on them by the courts or family violence management plans.

If you, or someone you know is at risk or escaping family violence the following services are available. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger call 000.

Centre for Non-Violence 1800 884 292 www.cnv.org.au
Safe Steps 1800 015 188 (24/7) www.safesteps.org.au
1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732 (24/7) www.1800respect.org.au
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 (24/7) www.kidshelpline.com.au
Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491 www.ntv.org.au
WithRespect 1800 LGBTIQ / 1800 542 847 www.withrespect.org.au
Seniors Rights 1300 368 821 www.seniorsrights.org.au

Image: Even though you may feel alone, there is a lot of support for people escaping domestic violence.

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