Does your relationship need a health check?

Anyone, regardless of their gender, religion, culture or sexual identity can experience a relationship based on an imbalance of power and control. Abusive relationships can take many forms, including but not limited to: physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse, financial control and social isolation.

It is also possible that you are in fact in an abusive relationship and don’t even know it. Here are some things people might feel or think while being in an abusive relationship:

‘They say my friends and family want to split us up’

‘My partner isn’t violent all the time – they love me’

‘Things will get better – they don’t mean it’

‘It’s so confusing – I’m sure it’s a one-off”

‘They say it’s my fault I make them angry’

‘I’m scared of what will happen if I leave them’

(source: http://au.reachout.com/signs-of-an-abusive-relationship)

If any of the above statements sound like you, then read on.

No one deserves to be in a relationship where they don’t feel safe. If you are in a relationship that you think might be abusive, help is available to you. As a result, you have to prepare to seek support from a counsellor, a lawyer or even the police to help you leave the abusive relationship before it gets worse.

Many people experiencing domestic and family violence find it difficult to leave the relationship due to religious or cultural reasons, lack of finances or financial dependence on their partner, maintaining access to children and pets, or limited outside support.

Talking to someone such as a friend, a relative, doctor, or counsellor you trust, can help you understand what is happening in your relationship. They may also be able to help you contact support services and help you develop strategies to leave your abusive partner.

If you are isolated from friends and family, help is available at the University and in the community.  There are free counsellors at Western Sydney University who are more than happy to discuss your options with you and assist you to cope with the situation. You can contact them anytime to make an appointment:

Email: counselling@westernsydney.edu.au

Phone: (02) 9852 5199.

In addition, the student welfare service can assist you (whether you are a local or international student) with related issues like housing, Centrelink, financial assistance and options to minimise the impact on your studies.

Email: welfareservice@westernsydney.edu.au

Phone: (02) 9852 5199

Here are some other outside support services that can help you:

NSW Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463

1800 RESPECT: 1800 737 732

Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service (WDVCAS): 1800 737 732

Indigenous Women’s Legal Services NSW: 1800 639 784

The Safe Relationships Project (SRP): 1800 244 481

Mensline: 1300 789 978

International Students Free Legal Service (Redfern Legal Centre): (02) 9698 7645

Law Access NSW: 1300 888 529

WARNING: It can be dangerous if your partner catches you or suspects that you are planning to leave them. It would be best to contact police to have an officer present at your residence on the day you plan to actually pack your belongings and leave to prevent any harm done to you, your children, or pets.

What to do if you know someone who may be a victim of an abusive relationship:

Set up a time to talk to them to let them know you’re concerned about their safety. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for them to talk about the abuse so let them know they are not alone, and that there are people who are there to help.

Tell them you understand that their situation is very difficult. Don’t say, ‘You just need to leave.’ Instead, say something like, ‘I get scared thinking about what might happen to you.’  Encourage them to talk to someone who can help. Offer to go with them to a counsellor, agency, the police or court.

 

Christine Cardona is the Women’s Officer and Queer Officer at Campbelltown campus. She also holds the Disability portfolio in the Parramatta Student Campus Council.

 

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