If you are planning on leaving an abusive relationship, it is important to consider your safety first.
A safety plan can help you identify any risks and develop safety strategies.
The best way to make a safety plan is with a support service that can help you with your specific situation, wants and needs. Find help now in your local area.
Safety planning can also help women plan how to be safer when living with violence.
Post-separation violence is a form of abuse that is used by a perpetrator to keep their partner from leaving the relationship, or to continue to control their ex-partner once the relationship has ended.
The time of separation is especially dangerous for many women: perpetrators experience a loss of control and may try to regain it by escalating their violence
A woman planning on leaving a relationship, or who has left a relationship, may experience the following from her partner or ex-partner:
If you are in need of a safety plan, we recommend that you reach out to us at GLWS,
or call 1800 RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service.
They are free, 24/7, and completely confidential, and provide both phone and online counselling support.
Coercive control in domestic and family violence contexts, describes patterns of abusive behaviour designed to exercise domination and control over the other person in a relationship.
It is often a process that happens slowly over time and can be nuanced in nature, making it difficult to identify.
It can include many types of abusive behaviours – physical, psychological, emotional, sexual, spiritual, technological or financial
– the cumulative effect of which over time, robs victim-survivors of their autonomy and independence as an individual
Coercive Control often includes 4 key aspects:
This can extend to a wide range of behaviours, including but not limited to the following:
• Denying freedom and deprivation of liberty and autonomy, such as preventing one person from leaving the house at all or requiring them to get permission for any movement beyond the household. Methods can include not allowing you to go to work or school, restricting access to transport, stalking or confiscating phones.
• Isolating an individual from friends, family and wider society. This could be done through deprivation of liberty, manipulation by suggesting that friends and family are not in fact supportive, or the use of the victim’s social media to drive away family and friends. Cutting off or limiting contact with family and friends, so that a supportive network is lost, making them more dependant on the abuser.
• Withholding or controlling access to resources, including money. This can extend from direct demands that all income of the victim be provided to the perpetrator, as well as denying the victim a say in the management of joint property, or using their property without their consent. This can also include the imposition of restrictions on the victim’s access to education, employment and training opportunities.
• Psychological control and manipulation, including threatening self -harm or suicide. or by making the other person question their memory of events and agreements (i.e. gaslighting), Gaslighting is also when an abuser twists a scenario to make themselves right and will force the survivor to question their own memory and apologise.
• Stalking and intimidation, including through technological means such as installing tracking software or apps. Monitoring whereabouts, monitoring odometer on your car and checking up on you constantly.
• Physical assault or threats of physical assault. Beyond physical assault of the victim, this can also include things such as the destruction of property or harming animals to set an example or to inspire fear for one’s individual safety. Threats can also be made against friends or family.
• Sexual assault, including non-consensual intercourse or sexual touching. This may also involve the use of image-based abuse, such as threats to share intimate images against the victim’s wishes.
• Reproductive coercion, such as forcing the victim to become pregnant or denying birth control, or demanding an abortion.
• Body control: Dictating the survivor’s clothing, diet and physical presentation. Extreme cases may involve controlling sleep and medical care.
• Threatening to take the victim’s children away, to send them to state care, or to institute court proceedings to deny the victim access to the children.
• Jealousy/Possessiveness: Abuser might constantly accuse the survivor of cheating on them, making them feel guilty about spending time away from them or not allowing them to attend social events.
For more information:
How to identify coercive control in your relationship:
Direct assault on the body (choking, shaking, eye injuries, biting, slapping, pushing, spitting, burning, punching or kicking)
Use of weapons including objects
Assaulting the children/ pets
Locking the victim in or out of the house or rooms
Forcing the victim to take drugs
Withholding medication, food or medical care
Swearing and continual humiliation, in private or in public
Attacks on your intelligence, ability, sexuality, body image and capacity as a parent and spouse
Forbidding or controlling access to bank accounts
Providing only a small ‘allowance’
Not allowing the victim to have a job or jeopardising their current job
Forcing the victim to sign documents or make financial decisions under pressure
Forcing the victim to spend their wages on the household expenses – so that there is no spare money left over for social / personal items
Controlling the victim’s income
Denying the entitlements to property
Blaming the victim for the problems in the relationship
Constantly comparing the victim with others to undermine their self-esteem and self-worth
Withdrawing all interest and engagement (e.g. weeks of silent treatment)
Emotional blackmail and suicidal threats
Making you feel like you are to blame for things that you had nothing to do with
Making you feel like you are going "crazy" - this is often referred to as "Gaslighting"
Stalking and intimidating you, or your family/friends, text harassment, constant phone calls, showing up unannounced and threatening or intimidating you
Isolation from family and friends such as ongoing rudeness to or about family and friends to alienate them, or limiting contact with family and friends
Instigating and controlling the move to a location where the victim has no established social circle or work opportunities
Restricting use of the car, telephone, internet or finances
Forbidding or physically preventing the victim from going out and meeting people
There has been a huge increase in Social media abuse or technology facilitated abuse in the past few years.
Technology-facilitated abuse is when someone harasses, threatens, monitors or impersonates another person continually using technology.
This type of abuse can occur between strangers, but most often occurs alongside other types of abuse in domestic and family violence
For more information on how to keep your self tech safe visit:
Any form of pressured/unwanted sex, regardless of you being in a relationship -
Forced sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease
Making the victim perform sexual acts unwillingly (including taking or distributing explicit photos without their consent)
Criticising or using sexually degrading insults
Distributing or threatening to distribute explicit photos of you
Stalking involves a pattern of strange or suspicious incidents. To control, intimidate and create fear in a person, a stalker may:
Stalking happens when a person intentionally and persistently pursues someone against their will.
The stalker does this to control, intimidate and create fear in the person they are stalking. The person being stalked may feel like they are in danger.
Stalking limits a person’s freedom and makes them feel they have lost control over their lives. Some people who have been stalked are forced to change their lives, including by moving house and changing jobs.
Anyone can be a victim of stalking.
Perpetrators include current or former partners, relatives and strangers.
In Australia, stalking is a crime.
Spiritual abuse is the denial or use of spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to control and dominate a person.
Spiritual abuse can impact on a someone’s self-esteem and confidence, make them feel guilty, damage their spiritual experiences and isolate them.
Forcing you to attend a church or have certain beliefs that are not in line with your own thoughts or beliefs.
Forcing you to act in accordance with their beliefs or against your beliefs, this can be in regard to:
Preventing you from practising their religion
misusing spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to justify other types of abuse and violence
Accusing you of being too religious or not religious enough
Ridiculing your understanding of religious practices or beliefs.
Restricting or denying a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about her body is an attempt to maintain power and control over a woman.
Behaviour that has the intention of controlling a woman’s reproductive health decision-making is known as reproductive abuse.
Reproductive abuse generally falls into one of the below categories, though is not limited to:
Reproductive abuse can occur in any of the following ways:
Relationships are made up of many components, and are considered unhealthy when the scales of balance are tipped unevenly
The elements of a healthy relationship are applicable to all forms of relationships; with friends, dating partners, intimate partners, life partners, or family members.
Each component of the relationship supports and reinforces the others, with equality always at the centre.
Trust lies at the heart of a strong relationship and is the foundation that love and respect are built on.
Support and encouragement of each other to achieve their goals and dreams, and personal growth.
Respect other people’s boundaries. Learn other people’s boundaries and do not infringe upon them.
A shared responsibility for maintaining the relationship.
Both people in a relationship should be included in making decisions.
Effective communication involves clearly expressing your thoughts and feelings and listening to those of others.
Maintain healthy boundaries.
Create a safe and comfortable space to experience relationships by defining and communicating your boundaries to others.
Be open and honest.
It is important for both people in a relationship to be honest about their intentions, feelings or desires.
Be responsible for your own actions.
Talk to others to understand how your actions affect them.
There is no place in a healthy relationship for controlling, abusive and violent behaviour.
A healthy relationship brings more happiness than sadness or stress. You are not afraid of your partner or their reaction to something, you can talk openly about your feelings.
It is important to know that you should never feel unsafe in a relationship. A healthy relationship gives you the freedom to:
A healthy relationship is not abusive, meaning you:
A healthy relationship is respectful, meaning you:
All relationships go through hard times.
Having disagreements and feeling unhappy are things we all face at different stages.
Sometimes it can be hard to know what is normal and what isn’t. It is important to know that you should never feel unsafe in a relationship.
Many of these things can be abusive and are not OK.
If you think your relationship might be unhealthy or abusive it is important to know that support is available via 1800 respect and most of the services we refer to in this website.
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