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Family violence support


Most of us say we’d do something if we saw sexism, harassment or abuse.

But often when the moment comes, we don’t.

Saying something when it is safe to do so says something, and doing nothing says something too: that you’re okay with it.

Sexism, sexual harassment and abuse are all contributors to family violence and this can have significant social, health and economic costs on women, families and the community.

Even though they’re big problems, you’re in a powerful position to make a difference.


How does it start?

Family violence is violent or threatening behaviour, or any other form of behaviour that coerces or controls a family member or causes that family member to be fearful.

Our Watch, the national organisation to prevent violence against women and their children, has identified the things that drive violence against women. They are actions,  attitudes, norms, practices and structures that:

  • condone violence against women
  • condone men controlling decision-making and limits to women’s  independence in public and private life
  • support rigid gender roles and stereotyped constructions of masculinity and femininity and
  • support male peer relations that emphasise aggression and disrespect towards women

(Citation: Our Watch, Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) and VicHealth (2015) Change the story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia, Our Watch, Melbourne, Australia)

Day to day, this can look like someone you know:

  • making a sexist joke over a barbeque lunch
  • trying to control how their family members spend money
  • trying to insist that their partner tells them constantly what they’re doing or where they’re going
  • insisting on always going to see the doctor with their partner or
  • trying to stop their partner seeing friends or family

What can I do?

Family violence is a complex issue. Yet we can all make a significant difference by calling out our friends, colleagues and family when we witness actions and behaviours that contribute to a culture that supports family violence, when it is safe to do so.  Sexism,  harassment and abuse are not ok and can lead to a culture where violence against women is more prevalent and acceptable.

Calling it out at home

Choosing to call out sexism, sexual harassment and abuse  when it’s safe to do so  is a daunting task but it’s an important one.

Safely calling out sexism, sexual harassment and abuse:

  • supports and reassures the person being targeted
  • if it can discourage the person who did it from doing it again
  • it can show everyone that sexism and sexual harassment aren’t on


Three tips for calling it out

Tip 1

Be proactive. Ask colleagues and friends if they’ve experienced sexism or sexual harassment recently? Find out is there anything you can do to stop it from happening again?


Tip 2

Rehearse what you’d say: What will you do if you see sexism and sexual harassment and it is safe to intervene. When will you do it?



Tip 3

Think of a time when you felt that you should have said something, but didn’t: Can you still do something about it? If not, what will you do next time?



There isn’t one perfect way to call people out, and it can be difficult if you’re not used to it. You also have to be sure that you are safe.

You don’t need to say or do a lot, but by calling these situations out, you have the ability to change the story for the better.

If it happens and you’re aware of it, it’s your business.


When to call it out

When a mate, a colleague, or even a stranger says something that doesn’t sit right with you and it is safe, say something. Even if you’re wrong and everything is okay, the damage caused by doing nothing, can be worse.

 As long as you’re not putting yourself or someone else in a dangerous or risky situation, if you feel like you should say something, you probably should.


Some people might be worried to ask for help, and behaviours such as nervous laughter can make it seem like they’re okay, even when they’re not.

Even if it turns out they didn’t want your help, calling it out shows everyone else that this behaviour is not okay.

This ladder gives you some guidance on what to do and say. If you are con­fident to, and the situation suits - you should aim for actions higher up the ladder.



Where to get help

If you, or someone you know, is experiencing family violence help is available.


Respect women - call it out

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