For some people, home is not a safe place.
Domestic violence can turn what should be a haven for families into a far more sinister place.
This is a serious problem at any time, but in a period when many people are under increased stress and everyone is being urged to stay at home to avoid spreading COVID-19, the risk of domestic violence is increased significantly.
During self-isolation, people may find themselves at home 24/7 at risk of or experiencing violence in their home, and facing limited access to their usual support people or networks.
There have been reports of a rise in domestic violence incidents across Australia during the pandemic crisis. And there is concern that the official figures may be understating the problem because many people suffering abuse may be reluctant to seek shelter at a time when there is a risk of transmission of coronavirus.
Anyone who finds themselves feeling unsafe should know that support and services are still available, some of them just a phone call away.
There are things you can do if you feel unsafe and believe there may be a need to escape from your situation.
- Contact a support service to create a safety plan
- Have your phone fully charged and accessible.
- Make a checklist of items you might need to grab if you have to leave quickly.
- Keep your car fuelled and easily accessible.
- Let trusted friends or neighbours know of your situation.
- Be prepared to call 000 if you are in immediate danger.
But it is also important for any of us in the community to retain contact with neighbours, friends or family members who we know are vulnerable to make sure they are aware support is there for them.
Family domestic violence support is available from a number of agencies, including:
Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline – 24/7 phone counselling, support and advice – 9223 1188 or 1800 007 339
Men’s Domestic Violence Helpline -- 24/7 phone counselling, information and referral for men concerned about their violent and abusive behaviour
1800Respect – 24/7 domestic violence and sexual assault counselling - 1800 737 732
Relationships Australia – Support and counselling on relationships and for abusive or abused partners - 1300 364 277
Aboriginal Family Domestic Violence Helpline – Contact service for Aboriginal victims of violence – 1800 019 123
In Port Hedland, support services are available from the Hedland Well Women’s Centre (https://wellwomens.com.au/ 9140 1124) and the Hedland Women’s Refuge (9173 1948)
In an emergency, call 000 for police.