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What can I do?

What can I do?

What can I do?

You don’t have to go through this alone. Talking to someone can help you decide what to do. Talk to a trusted relative, friend, neighbour or support worker about how unhappy you are at home.

Family and friends can be supportive, but they, like you, may not know what to do. So contact a family violence service or use websites like this one to get information and think about what you can do. If your abuser makes it difficult for you to use the phone you may have to ask a trusted person to get the information for you.

What other women with disabilities want you to know:

  • It’s not your fault
  • You have a right to feel safe
  • You have a right to be safe
  • Talk to someone
  • Get help
  • Believe in yourself

My advice to other women is turn to family and friends. If you don’t have family you can rely on, find someone you trust to talk to. Go to a women’s service – they understand and are there to help you.

While I was in hospital I developed a strong trusting relationship with a social worker. It was in talking to her over many hours that I very gradually began to see how controlling this man was and that perhaps I deserved not to be treated this way 

Read more from ‘Isobel's story'

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How can I protect myself?


You have a right to feel safe, and to be safe.

If there is abuse in your home it is important to think carefully about your safety. You need to prepare yourself in case you or your children are placed in physical danger.

If you are in immediate danger, or if you have been physically or sexually assaulted or threatened, you can call the police – phone 000.

If you want help to think about how you can improve your safety, contact a Domestic Violence Outreach Worker (see Services).
If you cannot or do not want to leave the relationship at the moment, there are some ways you can increase your safety. Domestic Violence Outreach Workers can offer you support and give you information that can help you to be safe from any more abuse.

I went to a service and they gave me a pamphlet about the local domestic violence outreach service. It was helpful to have information. I discussed with my family the information I found in the pamphlet, then with their support I decided to ring the number for the domestic violence outreach service that was on it. Speaking to the staff at the outreach service was most helpful. They gave me good advice and I wouldn’t have been able to go through all of this without them. 

Read more from ‘Isobel's story’

If you need to stay somewhere safe, contact your local domestic / family violence service to find out about women’s refuges. If it’s an emergency contact the Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service (see Services). Women’s refuges are safe places where you and your children can stay for a few days, weeks or months, depending on the refuge. They will offer you support and help with financial and legal advice.

If you are part of a non-English speaking community you may be worried that the local family violence service won’t understand what it is like for someone from your community to talk about abuse in the family. Immigrant Women’s Domestic Violence Service is a specialist state wide service that works with women and children from different cultural backgrounds who experience family violence. See Services for more information.

Not all refuges are disability accessible so depending on your disability it may take time to find a vacancy but remember many women with disabilities have been supported by refuge services.

Thinking about going to refuge I thought I would cope but I wasn’t sure about my son. So hearing that I could go to refuge with just me and my son was wonderful. It was been great I wish I done this before hand. I didn’t realise they had a house for disability and they do

Read more from ‘Molly’s Story’ 

Where can I get help?

Taking that first step and making contact with a family violence service can be difficult but remember that the workers are there to support you with your decisions.

I began to contemplate a life outside of this marriage. It would take many conversations and much agony for me to make the final decision to leave, as my fear of not being able to take care of our 3-year-old son was huge. It had been beaten into me verbally that I wasn’t capable of caring for our son, and I believed it. Most of the conversations I had about leaving were with a domestic violence help line or with the social worker from the hospital. …

Read more from ‘A story about Me’

When you contact a family violence service, you can expect:

  • To be believed
  • To be treated with respect
  • To be listened to
  • That the abuse will be taken seriously
  • Your choices respected, including whether you decide to leave or stay with your abuser

Think about whether there are any steps you can take to get free from the abuse. Is there someone you can talk to? Do you need help to protect yourself?

Read advice from other women for more ideas on what you can do.