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 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.
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.
How our service works
Step one —
Call us on 1800 436 937.
GenWest is not a 24/7 crisis service. If need help in an emergency, call 000 for police or ambulance help. If you need help outside normal business hours, please contact Safe Steps on 1800 015 188. Please note that we are currently experiencing high demand.
When you phone us or visit the office, our reception staff will greet you.
If it’s the first time you have contacted us, we will gather some important information to help us to understand your safety and risk. Our staff will also ask you for your phone number and date of birth.
Step two —
After you call our reception team, your information will be passed on to our Family Violence First Response team.
The First Response team will get back to you (usually by phone). Please note that we are currently experiencing extremely high demand.
They will assess your level of risk and help you to put a safety plan in place.
They can help you to figure out what support you might need and refer you to other services.
This might be within another area of GenWest, or support provided by another organisation.
Step three —
The First Response team will understand what help you need and refer you for further support if you need it.
The First Response team can refer you for case management support.
Case managers work with you for a period of time, usually 3-6 months, sometimes longer.
They can work with you to understand what you (and your kids if you have them) need so that you are safe.
Case management can be right for you if you are experiencing family violence and need a few different kinds of support, if you are living with a disability, have recently arrived in Australia, or are at a higher level of risk.
GenWest provides case management support and can also coordinate case management support for you from another organisation if we’re unable to help you ourselves.
There is often a waiting list for case management support. It can take a few weeks or even months to be allocated to a case manager. Please be patient, but call us straight away if your situation changes and you are experiencing more risk. We are working hard to support as many people as we can, but we are also very busy.
The Family Violence First Response team can provide one-off support.
Our team might be able to give you all the support you need in one session. This will depend on your needs and whether you need further support. One-off support can involve doing a risk assessment and planning for your safety.
The First Response team can also refer you to other services outside GenWest if you need help from them. They can refer you to services like cohealth, Women’s Legal Service, Centrelink or housing services, for example, to help you to get the support and advice that you need.
Where to find housing support in an emergency
GenWest do not provide urgent emergency accommodation.
You can call us on 1800 436 937 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.
Housing support we provide
Our case managers can support you to access safe accommodation.
GenWest has a secure communal (shared) 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.
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 First Response 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
(03) 9652 1500
1800 105 303
LGBTIQ+ Legal Service
Hours: 10am – 1pm Monday, Wednesday & Friday
(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
- Introducing GenWest’s First Response Service
- Child and Youth Counselling Information Sheet
- My Safety Plan
- Choosing Positive Paths
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
GenWest's Family Violence Support Services
GenWest provides services and support to people who are experiencing family violence. We provide court support, crisis support and case management, as well as services that promote healing and recovery, such as youth and children’s counselling.Read more
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