Are you in VIC? If not, please change below.

In your state, you are required to confirm you wish to access this information. Please enter 'QLD' or 'WA' in the field below to continue.

No thanks

How to Seek Help: For People in Abusive Relationships

“Why didn’t you just leave?” is a question often posed to survivors of abusive relationships and domestic violence. But the situation is often more complicated than that. There are many reasons that make it hard to leave abusive relationships, however there are steps you can begin to take to make the process easier. It might seem like there’s no way out right now, but there are people and resources out there that can help you.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:

  • 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a current or previous partner
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner
  • 72,000 women, 34,000 children and 9,000 men sought homelessness services in 2016-17 as a result of family violence

So what constitutes an abusive relationship and what can you do if you want to leave?

Identifying an abusive relationship

Domestic abuse can take many forms including:

  • physical
  • verbal
  • sexual
  • emotional
  • social
  • financial

More information about the different types of abuse and identifying them can be found at

Some common signs of an abusive relationship can include:

  • Your partner being threatening or violent towards you
  • Your partner trying to control you
  • Your partner blames you for their behaviour, or accuses you of things you haven’t done (e.g. having an affair)
  • You may blame yourself when your partner is threatening or violent

Reasons it might be hard to leave

It can be scary, complex and difficult to contemplate leaving an abusive relationship. Some of the most common barriers can include:

  • Lack of financial support: a job, money, resources etc
  • Lack of emotional support from friends, family and even professionals
  • Fear that the violence will continue
  • Psychological reasons; such as an abuser destroying the confidence of their partner or using tactics like crying, apologising and promising to change

If you make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, you are not alone – there are steps you can take, resources you can access and support services ready to assist:

Planning to leave an abusive relationship

After making the decision to leave, here are some steps you can follow:

  • Call a hotline (see below)
  • Seek legal advice
  • Have your own bank account and as much money in savings as possible
  • Change all your passwords and PINs
  • Put financial and other valuable documents somewhere safe
  • Pack a bag of items you need every day and keep it hidden
  • Reach out to others who may be able to help you or give you a place to stay; whether family members or social workers at a nearby domestic violence centre
  • Keep a spare key hidden in a secure location
  • When you’re in the planning or leaving stage, begin keeping a journal of incidents such as threats and assaults. This is very helpful for legal matters, such as evidence in court

For more information:

Domestic Violence Help

There are a range of resources and hotlines (national and in your state) to assist those who are experiencing domestic violence and abusive relationships. To find help head to

Related content:

Written by Shine Lawyers on . Last modified: June 15, 2018.

Join the discussion

Share this article:

  • Philip Hankin wrote:

    How about protection for MEN against private lodged DV applications without police involvement or any evidence, also the prosecution of vindictive women conspiring to falsify, initiated woman who have a child with men and are also involved with Family Law proceedings? Change legislation please otherwise your words means nothing.

    Their is no help from government for Men, its a travesty that the QLD GOV believe they are doing a great job. MEN are losing out because of legislation discrimination. ALL of your representatives need to take a long look at reality. Women and feminists tell lies. ABS information highlights how Men are being affected.
    New stats have emerged about domestic violence in Australia.
    * At least one in three victims of family violence is male
    * Almost half the victims of partner emotional abuse are male
    * One male is a victim of domestic homicide every 10 days
    * Almost one in four young people are aware of their mum/stepmum hitting their dad/stepdad
    * Male and female victims of reported domestic assault receive very similar numbers and types of injuries
    * Men who have experienced partner violence are 2 to 3 times more likely than women to have never told anybody about it
    * Post-separation, fathers make up the majority of parents who report experiencing the highest levels of severity of fear, control and coercion.
    * Between 2005 and 2016, the proportion of men reporting violence in the last year from their current partners rose more than five-fold while the proportion experiencing emotional abuse more than doubled.
    While many services have quite rightly been established over the past four decades to support female victims of family violence, the needs of male victims remain largely unmet.
    Historically government policies have been based on the assumption that the vast majority of perpetrators are male and the vast majority of victims are female, and the policies of current governments are still based on this erroneous position.
    Indeed, regretfully, the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children did not include male victims in their otherwise laudable March 2009 recommendations which have been enthusiastically supported by the federal government and the Council of Australian Governments.
    Now is the time for action by politicians and community leaders to recognise that a comprehensive approach is required to combat the scourge of family violence.
    Check out the One In 3 movement
    You cant be this stupid and bias for much longer in todays climate.

  • Yesterday was a good day for abuse survivors

    Working with survivors of abuse every day and hearing the horrific nature of the abuse inflicted on them as small vulnerable children, and of the devastating impact the abuse has had on their lives, not every day is an easy one. However, there were a few news stories that popped into my consciousness yesterday that […]

    Read more

    Changes to WA Abuse Limitation period

    On 18 April 2018 the Western Australian Government passed historic changes removing the three year statute of limitations for survivors of childhood sexual abuse.  Until the passing of these changes Western Australian survivors had only three years from the date that they turned 18 to bring a claim for childhood sexual abuse. The recent changes […]

    Read more

    Survivors waiting for redress

    There are less than 9 weeks until the National Redress Scheme is supposed to start, already a year later than the Royal Commission said redress should begin. Queensland announced yesterday they would sign on to redress but is it too late for the July 1 deadline? A National Redress Scheme was one of the earliest […]

    Read more