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Women who have been victims of domestic and family violence say that living with violence is like being on a roller coaster – there are highs, there are lows, and you never know what will happen next.

You may be doing all you can to keep your partner happy so they don't treat you badly and hurt you. You may feel you're constantly living in fear and walking on eggshells because you never seem to do anything right. You may think that the abuse is normal and not know what a healthy relationship is. You may feel confused because your partner's behaviour changes from anger and abuse to regret for their behaviour and promises to change. It seems like a never-ending cycle.

You don't want to end your relationship, you just want the violence to stop.

Maybe you're staying in a domestic and family violence situation because you love your partner and hope things will change and be like they were in the beginning of your relationship. Maybe you're staying because you have children together or have nowhere to go. Maybe you've lived with the violence for so long, you feel this is your lot in life and you deserve to be treated this way. But you don't deserve to be treated this way.

No one deserves violence. Not you. Not your children. No one. Domestic and family violence is against the law. If your partner is causing injury and abuse, they are committing a crime. It's important for you to know that the violence is not your fault. The responsibility is always with the person using violence and being abusive.

1. Talk to someone

You may not have told anyone about your situation. You may be isolated or cut off from your family and friends. Maybe you feel ashamed and embarrassed, or maybe it's because your partner stops you from seeing friends and family and doesn't let you go out of the home alone.

You may feel worthless, depressed, angry, suicidal and ashamed. One of the biggest effects of living with domestic violence is low self-esteem. The stress and trauma of coping with abuse and violence on a daily basis will also take a toll on your mental, emotional and physical health and wellbeing.

Choosing to speak up about what you're going through is brave. Staying silent can put you (and your children) at risk of more harm.

Talk to someone: your mum, a sibling, a neighbour, a coworker, your doctor, a trusted friend. You may be surprised how relieved you feel once you break the silence.

You can also talk to someone on the Domestic Violence Line or at 1800RESPECT at any time day or night. They're open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Domestic Violence Line
1800 65 64 63

1800RESPECT
1800 737 732

They are trained counsellors and will listen to you without judgement or blame. They won't make you do anything you don't want to do. And if you want, they can give you information on what you can do and help you decide on your options. You can call them as often as you need.

2. Stay safe

There are many reasons why you may decide that staying with your abusive partner is the best choice for right now. If you decide to stay, read about what you can do to keep as safe as possible:

We know it's a difficult and complex decision to make, but it may be helpful for you to read, Deciding to leave or stay.

Remember that everyone has a right to live without fear. Domestic and family violence, including physical, financial, sexual, psychological, emotional, reproductive and spiritual abuse is against the law in Australia. Read more about the different kinds of domestic and family violence and abuse.

If you need support, help or advice, talk to a support services counsellor on the Domestic Violence Line or at 1800RESPECT.

3. Apply for an ADVO

You may choose to apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) as a way to protect yourself even if you remain in the relationship and live with your partner.

An ADVO is a court order that bans a person from assaulting, threatening, stalking or intimidating you. If your partner breaches (breaks) the ADVO, they may be charged with a criminal offence.

In the case of an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, an ADVO can be made for kin or extended family rather than a partner.

Another option is an exclusion order in a ADVO, which would allow you to stay at home, but removes the violent person from your home and prohibits them from living in the home.

Find out more about ADVOs, including how to apply for one. Or talk to someone about ADVOs:

Domestic Violence Line
1800 65 64 63

Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service
1800 938 227

Domestic Violence Liaison Officer (DVLO)
find your local NSW Police station

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