Dealing with violence in a relationship

Give yourself credit for everything you’ve tried in order to cope but the reality is that you can’t do it all.

This article describes the different ways violence can be experienced in a relationship, how the victims may feel and react, and gives support for seeking help.

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  • is any behaviour which causes physical, sexual or psychological damage or causes a person to live in fear in any relationship e.g. spouse/partner/parent/friend/employer
  • threats are a form of violence

Domestic violence is a crime
Women are at greater risk at home than on the street. Most violence in the home is committed by men. Domestic violence occurs more often in de-facto relationships than in marriage. Women and children are most often the victims. However, men can be victims also.

Physical and sexual violence are the more obvious forms of violence. Punching, poking, biting, hair pulling, pinching, hitting, and using a weapon are all forms of violence. Rape within marriage is a crime in Victoria.

Other forms of violence include:

  • insulting you in public
  • refusing to let you see friends or family
  • ripping or burning your clothes
  • calling you names
  • making you think you’re crazy
  • smashing things
  • disconnecting the phone/taking away your mobile phone
  • locking you in the house
  • threatening suicide
  • threatening to take or kill the children
  • forcing you to have an abortion
  • drugging you
  • controlling all the money
  • treating you like a servant


Some people say that these things are just as damaging as physical violence. They eat away at your self-esteem and create many doubts about yourself that may cause you not to seek help. Isolation tends to compound the fear and anxiety, leading to feelings of worthlessness and helplessness.

If you are in a violent relationship, or you have recently left, you may have some of these feelings:

  • degraded and alone
  • afraid to tell anyone
  • worried about what others will think
  • afraid that it is your fault too
  • scared of coping alone
  • confused because sometimes he/she is loving and kind
  • scared that it will get worse if you leave
  • insecure about the kids’ future
  • furious and sad because you tried everything to change the situation
  • depressed
  • guilty about leaving
  • that you have failed as a partner and a parent


You are not to blame for his/her violence. You have a right to be safe. You have a right to live a life free of violence.

Are these some of the ways you’ve tried to cope?

  • you have been careful about what you say, when you say it, how you say it
  • you have “tiptoed” around his/her moods – you encourage the kids to be quiet around him/her
  • you try to do all the right things e.g. cook dinners, keep the house tidy, try to please etc
  • you see less of your friends and family
  • you keep the peace wherever possible
  • you change your own behaviour according to what he/she says
  • you handle all family matters on your own
  • you try hard to protect the kids from the effects of violence
  • you have tried to talk about any alcoholism or stress levels or moods


Perhaps these measures aren’t really effective or only act as a temporary measure. Give yourself credit for everything you’ve tried but the reality is that you can’t do it all. Only he/she can change his/her own behaviour. You may have had support from friends or family. However, sometimes it is good to talk to someone totally uninvolved.

A counsellor can talk it through with you to enable you to:

  • feel supported
  • believe in yourself
  • see that the violence is a crime
  • accept that the abuse has caused you great pain
  • recognise what you have already done to try and change things
  • decide in what direction your relationship is headed
  • find out your legal rights
  • take the appropriate steps to secure your safety


These are only general suggestions. You should always seek outside help if you are unsure what to do. If you need to talk to someone you can call –

5 Greenwood Ave Ringwood, Vic. 3134 Australia
Ph: (03) 9870 7044
Freecall outside Melbourne 1800 647 995
or use our Contact Form to request an appointment or a call back, or to ask a question.

Helping your relationship
Breaking Up