We Are Here, For You
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
. . . your safety is our priority
The world has changed, but we are still here
We know this is a difficult time for many women and children, who are spending more time behind closed doors, with their abuser.
Contact with their support networks has also become significantly restricted.
That’s why we need to be here. Our services are being delivered differently, but we are still here - so women know they can get the support they need, not only to be safe from a global pandemic, but also the crisis that is domestic violence.
Our commitment to gender and social equality in a violence free world has not changed
As we respond during this current COVID-19 crisis, the most important message is for women to know help is available. They are not alone – and they should not carry the burden to protect themselves and remain safe. There is never an excuse for violence.
That’s why we are all here – though differently.
( * Scroll below to find information on what you may be experiencing, how we can help and how you can support someone experiencing violence - along with answers to some frequently asked questions )
What you may be experiencing
Social isolation is dangerous for many women and children. It is a form of coercive control and a tactic that has long been used by abusers.
For example, he may:
- Restrict or monitor a woman’s movements, and shut them off from their friends, family and other support networks.
- Insist on being present during conversations with others, or insult her and make her feel guilty for ‘choosing’ to spend time speaking with them, rather than him.
- Monitor their partner’s communications devices and social media accounts. Or, repeatedly check in on them.
- Limit a woman’s movements in her own home, restricting her to only some parts of the house.
- Set routines a woman must strictly adhere to.
- Control what their partner reads, or relocate her away from all she knows.
- Control her finances.
- Withhold sanitiser, disinfectant, cleaning products, food or medicine.
- Use the pandemic to ‘pool resources’ and move in together, or use that as a reason to reconcile the relationship.
- Tell their former partner they have nowhere else to stay.
- Deny their partner access to healthcare.
- Be critical of their partner’s parenting, and create a feeling where the woman is ‘walking on eggshells’.
- Breach intervention orders, and find excuses relating to the current COVID-19 restrictions, for doing so.
- Use COVID-19 as an excuse to ignore parenting orders, or increase demands for custody of the children.
- Use misinformation about the pandemic to control or increase fear, or limit access to available support.
Increase threats of suicide/self harm, and/or expressions of hopelessness.
Threaten you or your children with contracting the COVID-19 virus.
But there are things you can do – which we can talk to you about.
( * Scroll below for frequently asked questions )
When you contact us
We will work with you to understand your needs. You can choose to remain anonymous, or share your name with us.
One of our support workers will talk to you over the phone about why you are calling. They will also want to ensure you are safe, and understand the level of risk you may be experiencing.
The support worker may talk about a safety plan with you, or discuss some of our services and what other options might be available depending on your circumstances and wishes.
You will always have options.
Those options may include:
- Placing you in crisis accommodation.
- Placing your partner/former partner in accommodation so you (and if necessary, your children) can remain in your own home.
- Supporting you to remain in your own home, with modifications such as security doors.
- Offering non-legal advice about intervention orders and connecting you with legal services.
- Offering non-legal advice about court processes.
- Assessing your ongoing financial risk, and providing support or linking you with financial planners.
- Assessing your immediate financial needs and providing financial support.
- Providing you with basic living necessities.
- Linking you with other services.
- Assessing your technology safety.
Your questions answered
We are fielding a wide range of questions at this time. Here we have tried to answer a number of the most common queries.
Click on each of the questions below to see more information.
Can I leave my house during COVID-19 restrictions if I am unsafe?
Yes. The Victorian government says people can leave their homes if there is family violence, or violence by another person in the home, and you are at risk. You can find out the latest information on COVID-19 at the Department of Health and Human Services website, here.
What is a safety plan?
This is when you think about what you need to do to be safer while living with violence or abuse, or when you are planning to leave an abusive relationship. Every plan is different, depending on your needs.
We can help you put a plan together, and encourage you to keep it somewhere where no one else will see it. There are many things to consider – and you may already have some in place. But as your relationship changes, your plan may also need to change.
We will work with you to support your safety plan and provide you with up-to-date information.
A safety plan may include some of the following:
Identifying a safe place to go: Decide which is the quickest/safest exit from the house if you need to leave quickly, including with the children. Identify somewhere you could go safely.
Emergency contacts: You have should keep a list of your personal emergency contacts. If you have a disability, it can be helpful to take the contact details of your disability support services with you.
Would you feel comfortable to call police 000 in an emergency? If not, how can we support you to do so?
What system interventions are in place? Is there an intervention order in place? Is your partner or former partner living with you during physical isolation? Is he returning to the home due to loss of job/housing
Safe communication/Support by someone close: How can you communicate with your support networks during quarantine or physical isolation? Do you have access to a phone or internet? Can you contact friends, family or someone trusted if you need to? Can you set up a code word that you can text them in case you need them to call 000 on your behalf?
Check online security and phone security: Protect or change passwords; If possible, have a spare mobile with prepaid credit.
Planning for children or others in your care: Is there someone your child can talk to, who they trust? Can they talk to a teacher online if they are unsafe or afraid?
Planning for pets: Would the pets come with you if you left in an emergency?
Items to take with you - escape bag: If you leave, what do you need? Documents, medications, prescriptions, money, keys? Can you leave items in a safe location or provide copies to a trusted person?
Current supports: Do you have supportive people to help you in an emergency? What do you do day-to-day to manage your safety? Has or will this change during physical isolation?
Personal emotional supports: Discuss strategies and supports to manage mental health which could be impacted because of an increase in emotional attacks by your partner/former partner. Discuss and or develop a mental health safety plan.
Can you leave? If you are afraid of being in self-isolation with a perpetrator, is it possible to stay with family or friends? How soon can you make plans to leave? If you have to flee, plan how you would do so. Leave while the perpetrator is out of the house if possible. Know the location of your nearest police station or hospital and go there if you need to.
Prepare: If you are entering into self-isolation with a perpetrator who you think may withhold necessary items from you, you could hide a supply of medications, prescriptions, cash and a small amount of food. (If you fear that the perpetrator will react violently if they find these supplies, do not do this.
You can find more information on safety plans at the following links. These links are also useful for friends or family of someone living with abuse:
How can I safely call for help if I am at home with my abuser?
The safe steps Family Violence Response Centre is Victoria’s 24-hour family violence response service. The centre has put together some helpful information on how to safely make calls for help, if you are isolated at home with your abuser.
- Creating a plausible reason to leave the house, such as getting petrol, groceries or medication and call while you are out. Unless you are in medical quarantine because you are sick, you are allowed to leave your house for these essential items, even under lockdown
- Waiting for him to fall asleep before calling
- Calling from a room with an exit, a door that locks, that does not contain knives or other weapons
- Calling from the bathroom, while the shower is running
- You can visit the safe steps website, here.
- You can contact Centre for Non Violence free call from any mobile (you don’t need data), landline or payphone on 1800 884 292 throughout the Bendigo and Loddon area.
- We can also be contacted on Facebook and Instagram.
What do I do if I need to take out an intervention order or go to court?
The fastest way to get an intervention order is to contact police.
.The Magistrate’s Court of Victoria has issued this statement in relation to COVID-19: Click here. We can provide non-legal advice about taking out an intervention order, or going to court.
The Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre provides free legal information and advice to central Victorians who can’t afford a lawyer. This includes people living in Bendigo, Loddon, Campaspe, Mt Alexander, Central Goldfields and parts of the Macedon Ranges. The LCCLC also provides court assistance at Bendigo, Echuca, Kyneton, Maryborough and Castlemaine courts.
More information on the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre can be found, here.
For information on the service’s support for people experiencing family violence, click here.
If you are in an emergency, you should phone 000.
How can I contact CNV if I don’t have access to a phone?
In Bendigo: You can also visit Haven; Home Safe in Forest Street, where you will have access to a phone to call us.
In Maryborough: Visit Maryborough District Health Service – where you will be given a safe space to speak with someone.
Our free call number also works from any public phone.
You can also contact police, or any other service provider and ask them to call us.
In an emergency, call 000.
Women’s Technology Safety & Privacy Toolkit
It is important to be mindful of how safe you are using when using technology to contact us.
The Women’s Services Network WESNET has put together the Women’s Technology Safety & Privacy Toolkit as part of the Safety Net Australia Project. The kit is for women experiencing tech abuse to learn how they can increase their technology safety and privacy. It’s a helpful resource that includes a range of information from online safety tips, to smartphone privacy and safety information.
You can find the toolkit and other resources on WESNET’s tech safety page, here.
Where can I access culturally appropriate support?
We can link you with culturally appropriate services. Here are a few of the services that we partner with:
Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative.
For more information about BDAC, click here.
Njernda Aboriginal Corporation
For more information about Njernda, which services Echuca and surrounds, click here.
Intouch – Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence
Intouch is a specialist family violence service that works with women from migrant and refugee backgrounds, their families and their communities. Details of COVID-19 Service Delivery found here.
Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services
Information on Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Services can be found here.
Where can the LGBTIQ community get information about safe and inclusive services?
Rainbow Health Victoria has created this tip sheet to assist in providing safe and inclusive remote services to LGBTIQ people due to the impact of COVID-19.
How can I help my children?
The Australian Women Against Violence Alliance has compiled an extensive list of resources on COVID-19, including helpful links on supporting children.
This information from UNICEF may also be useful: How to talk to your child about coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
Parents are also encouraged to speak with their schools about term 2, following the Victorian government’s announcements about changes to attendance arrangements. More information can be found, here.
I think my friend or family member may be experiencing violence, what should I do?
This is a particularly difficult time for women and children experiencing domestic or family violence. It is important we stay connected with those we know, or believe to be, at risk. The most important thing you can do is believe a woman when she shares her story with you, and ask how you can support her.
Someone living in an abusive relationship may stop communicating during this time, or when speaking with you they may be anxious or express concern about their partner becoming angry.
It can be difficult to know how to help, but some helpful strategies could include:
- Listen without judgement.
- Don't make excuses for the abuse - which can be physical, but also psychological.
- Don't question their choices - and understand that for many reasons, they may not be ready to leave. For many women, leaving a relationship is the most dangerous time.
- Find practical ways to help - for example, delivering groceries or keeping copies of private documents, and offering your home as a safe place to escape to.
- Help the person prepare a safety plan.
- In an emergency, call 000.
The following websites provide information on how you might be able to help:
The ABC also reported this helpful advice: Helping Women at Risk of Domestic Violence during the coronavirus pandemia.
How can I take care of myself during social distancing?
Safe steps provides some advice on other actions you can take to increase your safety:
- Contact trusted family and friends and set up a code word that you can text them in case you need them to call 000 on your behalf.
- If you are afraid of being in self-isolation with a perpetrator, is it possible to stay with family or friends? How soon can you make plans to leave?
- If you are entering into self-isolation with a perpetrator who you think may withhold necessary items from you, you could hide a supply of medications, prescriptions, cash and a small amount of food. (If you fear that the perpetrator will react violently if they find these supplies, do not do this.)
- If you have a disability, it can be helpful to take the contact details of your disability support services with you.
- While people are encouraged to stay at home, you may feel isolated from your friends and family. Try to maintain social connections online or over the phone, if it is safe to do so.
- If you have to flee, plan how you would do so. Leave while the perpetrator is out of the house if possible. Know the location of your nearest police station or hospital and go there if you need to.
- Keep spare keys and important documents in a place that is easy to access quickly.
More information from safe steps can be found, here.
Can we access any family violence training?
In the short term, CNV is focusing on essential service delivery and scheduled training sessions have been put on hold for the moment. However, the team is beginning to explore options for effective virtual delivery (webinars, livestreams etc) and consider which training sessions this is suitable for.
If you have any questions about training or CNV services overview information sessions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What changes has CNV made to how you deliver your services?
Where possible, family violence support will be provided by telephone. While our services are still available, it will be in a reduced capacity.
We will have an On-Site Service Delivery team and some staff will be working from home. There will be no face-to-face appointments and no direct service available to people at CNV sites, however we are carefully monitoring demand.
It is expected that for the next few months, all non-essential work will be undertaken via telephone or other technology, postponed or cancelled. This includes all partnerships and collaborations, meetings, training, forums and the like.
We encourage the use of technology wherever possible, to enable collaborations to continue and our staff will be available and working. For now, we have ceased all face to face meetings with partners, both on and off-site. Please use your usual contact details to communicate with CNV staff.
How can women and agencies contact CNV?
You can contact Centre for Non Violence free call from any mobile (you don’t need data), landline or payphone on 1800 884 292 throughout the Bendigo and Loddon area. The Loddon area covers the City of Greater Bendigo, Campaspe Shire, Mt Alexander Shire, Loddon Shire, Central Goldfields Shire and Macedon Ranges shire areas.
In an emergency, call 000.
The 24 hour Safe Steps family violence crisis response line is 1800 015 188.
For the latest COVID-19 information, visit the Department of Heath and Human Services website, here.
For global updates, visit the World Health Organisation, here.
What are your key messages about the drivers of violence?
Violence against women and their children is a prevalent, serious and preventable human rights abuse. One woman a week is murdered by a current or former partner and thousands more are injured or made to live in fear. The social, health and economic costs of violence against women are enormous. Preventing such violence is a matter of national urgency, and can only be achieved if we all work together.
How are you advocating during COVID-19?
We have joined with Gender Equity Victoria and more than 70 other organisations committed to gender equity in supporting a joint statement calling for State and Federal Governments to recognise the gendered impacts of COVID-19.
The statement also includes a list of 10 things government can do to address the impacts of COVID19 on women and gender diverse people.
The full statement and list of supporting organisations can be found, here.
What about my animals and pet abuse?
Animal (or pet) abuse and domestic violence/family violence are clearly linked, with those who abuse pets posing an increased risk to women and their children.
Our staff can help you assess these risks and provide practical support to manage the safety of your animals and develop your own safety plan.
Advice for practitioners
If your client can’t contact us, but they’re in contact with you, we can support you to work with them.
Here’s what we can do, to help you:
- Provide advice to you about family and domestic violence and keeping women safe
- Provide secondary consultations if your client isn’t connected to CNV
- Assess risk and provide safety planning advice
- Support victims who continue to live in the family home
- Work with men who choose to use violence and support them to keep women and children safe.
- Contact us on 1800 884 292 and ask for a senior worker
Please see printable flyers, below:
The gendered impacts of COVID-19
Here’s where UN Women is bringing up-to-date information and analysis on how and why gender matters in COVID-19 response:
There are a number of other well-respected international organisations that have published information on the topic, here are some selected sources: