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Violence

What is violence?

Violence is any behaviour that causes physical, emotional or sexual harm to someone and/or makes them feel afraid. Violence can occur in many forms and can affect people of any age including children and teenagers. It can happen in many different environments such as at home, school and work, on the street or at a party.

Some of the forms that violence may take are:

  • Physical violence - this may include hitting, pushing, punching, hurting or killing a person or pet, or damaging property
  • Emotional violence - this can be making threats, intimidation, constant criticism and/or putting another person down. It can be as hurtful as physical violence and can sometimes be difficult to recognise
  • Sexual violence - can include things like forcing a person to have sex or demanding or coercing them into performing sexual activities against their will
  • Domestic violence - this is abusive behaviour by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, de-facto, dating or family. Domestic violence can present in many different ways including physical, sexual or emotional violence, intimidation, stalking, neglect or financial deprivation
  • School violence - includes any form of violence that takes place at school, including bullying
  • War, genocide, terrorism - results in injury, death or psychological harm to many people

What can violence do?

violenceViolence can cause physical injury or even result in permanent disability or death. It can also cause serious psychological consequences like severe stress, depression, anxiety and/or fear. If you are the victim of violence you may also feel intimidated, guilty or ashamed. Sometimes you may even worry that it was your fault or be afraid that no one will believe you. If you are a witness to violence against someone else you may also experience some or all of these emotions.

What can you do if you are experiencing violence?

  • Remember that violence is not acceptable. The first thing is to understand that the way you are being treated IS NOT OK. No one has the right to be violent towards you
  • Talk to someone you can trust. This could be a family member, friend, teacher, counsellor or a youth worker. Although talking about being hurt can sometimes be quite scary or embarrassing, it is important to remember that there are people out there who can help you
  • Protect yourself. If you are in immediate danger it is important to contact the police. It is against the law for someone to hurt you and the police will be able to help you
  • Learn about your legal rights. It may be a good idea to check out your legal rights so you can better understand what you can do to protect yourself
  • There are a number of helpful organisations that you can contact to obtain more information and to get support. These include:

    • Police 000
    • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
    • Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
    • National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
    • Relationships Australia 1300 384 277
    • Mensline Australia 1300 78 9978

What can you do if you are violent to other people?

People may be violent for a range of reasons including:

  • being angry, frustrated or sad
  • enforcing power and control over another person
  • having emotional problems
  • using drugs and alcohol, which in some people can increase the chance of acting in a violent way
  • learned behaviour related to having a history of violence in the family

Being angry or frustrated sometimes is normal and these emotions can be expressed in many non-violent, non-threatening ways. However, hurting someone or causing fear is not ok. If you are having difficulty managing your anger you may need to ask for help.

Some ways to stop being violent

  • know what situation triggers your violent behaviour
  • talk to someone you can trust and whose advice you respect
  • think about the consequences of your actions. Behaving in a violent manner can be very dangerous to both you and others and may result in criminal charges
  • avoid alcohol and drug use
  • learn how to build respectful relationships
  • learn how to understand and manage your anger. You may need professional help from a school counsellor, youth worker or a psychologist

If you need to talk to someone you can call Kids Helpline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 55 1800, or use our web or email counselling service.

Published: 4 June 2010