What is Domestic Abuse and Where Can I Find Support?

While most relationships start out good and happy, and it is normal for partners to have arguments in a relationship, domestic abuse is not OK. Being international students, we come from a diverse cultural background where we have different understandings of gender roles in a relationship and what makes an abusive partner. It is important to know the warning signs of when a partner’s actions are not acceptable, and when a relationship is turning toxic and potentially turning into an abusive relationship. 

When we think of domestic abuse, traditionally we think of extreme physical abuse and violent outbursts – but that only scratches the surface of what constitutes domestic abuse. The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women defines violence against women as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’. 

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, verbal, psychological, and financial. This mind map dissects some of the most common forms of domestic abuse so you can recognise the signs.

How prevalent is domestic and family violence in Australia?

In Australia, it is estimated that one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence. It is estimated that 34% of women have experienced some form of physical violence from the age of 15. 

Domestic violence is not exclusive to women. Although women are more susceptible to domestic violence, men experience it too. 17% of women and roughly 5.3% of men have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15. 

Laws around domestic abuse in Australia 

Domestic violence is a crime in Australia and offenders can be prosecuted. Victims of domestic violence are protected under both federal and state/territory laws. 

The Australian Department of Social Services’ Help is Here campaign clearly demonstrates Australia’s zero tolerance of domestic violence: “Domestic violence in our community is unacceptable. Everyone has the right to be free from harm and to live without fear of violence or abuse. All victims need compassionate and highly responsive support”. 

It’s important to know that the laws around domestic violence do not discriminate based on your visa status. As an international student, you are protected by the Australian laws and the Australian police and legal system are there to help you. Your visa will not be impacted if you seek support.

Where can I go for help? 

If you are a victim of domestic violence and are in danger, call the police by calling Triple Zero (000) immediately. 

You can seek help from your education provider’s support staff or counselling services if you need someone to talk you through the process and guide you on where to get help. 

There are many services available to you if you’re facing domestic abuse, so speak up and seek help from friends or family around you. If you know of anyone who is suffering from domestic abuse, help them by encouraging them to seek support. 

For assistance, you can contact the following organisations:


1800 737 732

24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault. 

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13 11 14

Lifeline has a national number who can help put you in contact with a crisis service in your state. Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14. 

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Men’s Referral Service

1300 766 491

This service from No to Violence offers assistance, information and counselling to help men who use family violence. 

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Mensline Australia

1300 78 99 78

Supports men and boys who are dealing with family and relationship difficulties. Mensline provides a 24/7 telephone and online support and information service for Australian men.

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Kids Help Line

1800 55 1800

Free, private and confidential, this telephone and online counselling service is specifically for young people aged 5-25. 

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Relationships Australia

1300 364 277

Support groups and counselling on relationships, and for abusive and abused partners. 

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Suicide Call Back Service

1300 659 467

Free counselling 24/7, whether you’re feeling suicidal, are worried about someone else, or have lost someone to suicide. 

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National Disability Abuse and Neglect Hotline

1800 880 052

An Australia-wide telephone hotline for reporting abuse and neglect of people with a disability.

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