Navigating Domestic and Family Violence or Abuse

We want you to know that you are not alone. The Catholic Church in Australia is committed to helping individuals who are experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence. We believe in your dignity and wellbeing, and we are here to support you during this difficult time.

National telephone counselling service

1800 737 732 

Domestic Violence Line (NSW)

1800 65 64 63

For emergency refuge or housing assistance

1800 152 152

We believe in creating a safe and respectful environment for everyone. We understand that abuse can be complex and overwhelming, and we want to offer you resources and assistance so you can make an informed decision about your safety and welfare. 

Below you will find information, guidance, and links to organisations that specialise in providing support to individuals in situations like yours. You don’t have to face this alone – there are people who care and want to help you find safety and healing and will support you in navigating this challenging situation. Please remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. If you need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to any of the services we have listed below:

Catholic Care provides counselling services for you and your family members and can connect you with shelters and support networks that specialise in domestic violence intervention. We work collaboratively with local communities, agencies, and partners to ensure you have access to a comprehensive support system.

1800 RESPECT is a trusted national helpline in Australia offering confidential support and guidance to individuals facing domestic violence and abuse. This vital service provides a safe space for survivors to seek help, advice, and resources, ensuring they are not alone on their journey towards safety and recovery.

Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63) is 24/7 helpline in New South Wales offering support, safety planning, and referrals for those affected by domestic violence.

The Sanctuary – The Hills Women’s Shelter provides a 6-bedroom shelter in the Hills District of Sydney, which provides short-term crisis accommodation to women and children who are homeless or leaving domestic violence. Women and their children are provided with around-the-clock safe and non-threatening, care and support and assistance to start a new life.

The Wash House is a community initiative in Western Sydney that provides essential support to individuals experiencing homelessness and financial hardship. They offer facilities for laundry, showering, and access to clean clothing, restoring dignity and promoting hygiene among vulnerable community members.

The Catholic Church stands against all forms of abuse 

The Catholic Church in Australia is deeply committed to addressing the issue of domestic or intimate partner violence and abuse within the community. This commitment is grounded in the belief in the inherent dignity of every person and the Gospel message of love, respect, and compassion. The 2022-2023 Australian Bishops’ Social Justice Statement underscores the Church’s dedication to fostering a safe and supportive environment for all individuals, especially those who are vulnerable or marginalised.

In alignment with this commitment, the Church has established comprehensive initiatives aimed at providing support to those who have experienced domestic violence or abuse. The Church offers resources, information, and guidance to victims and survivors, ensuring they have access to the assistance they need. This includes fostering an understanding of the complex dynamics of abuse, as well as offering avenues for seeking help and guidance.

Additionally, Catholic parishes and communities in Western Sydney often collaborate with local shelters and support networks to offer assistance and refuge. These collaborations can provide women and children with access to safe housing, emotional support, and connections to relevant community resources.

The Church also places a strong emphasis on education and awareness. Through workshops, seminars, and awareness campaigns, the Catholic community aims to educate its members about domestic violence, its signs, and the importance of standing against it. 

By fostering a culture of empathy and support, the Church hopes to create an environment where survivors feel empowered to seek help and where abusers are held accountable for their actions.

As a Church community, we the importance of standing in solidarity with those affected by domestic violence and abuse, and the urgency of creating a culture that does not tolerate such behaviour. By actively engaging in education, awareness campaigns, and collaboration with other agencies and support networks, the Church aims to be a source of refuge and empowerment for individuals impacted by these challenges. Through its multifaceted efforts, the Church strives to echo the values of justice, compassion, and respect while supporting survivors on their path to healing and recovery.

A Message from Rosie Batty AO

Domestic Violence Campaigner and Australian of the Year 2015

In Australia, domestic violence is a part of many families’ lives, including some Catholic families. This is the disturbing reality across all our communities.

The Bishop of Parramatta, Bishop Vincent Long, has long been committed to zero tolerance of domestic violence and strongly reiterated this on the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It’s a position emphatically stated by Pope Francis. 

Pope Francis has said “Violence against women cannot be treated as ‘normal.’ He has even said sometimes it is ‘morally necessary’ to leave a relationship when a spouse and their children are experiencing domestic violence. This means attitudes that indicate domestic violence should be tolerated or kept secret within your marriage or relationships are wrong.

My personal experience with domestic violence, and the work I am doing now, has taken me across Australia and internationally, where I have met with, and spoken to, hundreds of people on the topic.

What I know is that no one deserves to live in a home where they feel threatened and unsafe. An abusive relationship may be one where there is physical violence, sexual violence, emotional or psychological abuse or coercive control. Sometimes control in a relationship even means a woman is prevented from practising her faith. Sometimes faith is used to hurt, scare or control a woman – this is what’s known as spiritual or religious abuse. Any abuse is not part of the Catholic Tradition.

Introducing the Iris Journalling App

The Catholic Diocese of Parramatta has developed an app to assist domestic violence victims. It is called ‘Iris’ – a journalling app designed with Christian women in mind, to help them identify what’s happening in their relationships and instil a sense of hope and courage.

Sometimes, a woman can feel there is something not quite right in her relationship but can’t easily explain what it is. Often, they even minimise their bad experiences, thinking “It’s not that bad”. Equally, it’s sometimes difficult to speak up or discuss feelings of uneasiness or even fear. In these times, journaling can often provide clarity.

Journalling is a useful tool for assessing and tracking what’s happening in relationships. Sometimes, a partner may not be aware of how his partner is feeling, and the journaling process can act as a catalyst for the couple to seek professional help. It might also make it easier to see when a woman should seek external support for a pathway to safety.

The Iris App makes it easy to journal events as they happen. You then have the details that can become lost when mixed with fear and anxiety. It is important to stay on track and have the ability to identify feelings and patterns. You can, for example, record when you argue with your partner and how it made you feel. Maybe you have felt controlled, and sometimes you may have been hurt. You can record this on the Iris App. It stays on your phone and no one else can see it.

The Iris App also contains beautifully illustrated biblical quotes focused on offering comfort, hope and reassurance. There are also details of other agencies that can offer help.

You’ll find Iris on the App Store or Google Play.

The records you keep in the Iris app can help you talk to someone about what you are experiencing, how you can work out what is best for your relationship and most importantly assist in your journey to safety.

A Message from Rosemary Kariuki

Awarded Local Hero in the Australian of the Year Awards 2021

All people – women, men and children – need to feel safe in their own home. Sadly, sometimes there is violence in the home. And this happens in all communities around Australia.

Domestic violence can happen when someone physically hurts or is violent towards another family member. They may shout and insult the other person, hurting them emotionally. They may control their money. They may control when they can go out and see their friends and family. They may even control how they worship.

All this abuse is wrong, and it’s not okay.

If you don’t feel safe or the freedom to be yourself with the people you share a home with, you can seek help.

Sometimes it is confusing to know how you feel about how another person is treating you. Sometimes you are worried that you won’t be believed if you tell someone how your partner is treating you. You may not even know where you can get help.

The Church in the Diocese of Parramatta understands this and has launched a phone app that can help you work out what is going on in your relationship. It’s called Iris Women and it’s on the App Store and Google Play. It helps you record things that happen between you and your partner. You can use words, photos and even videos. This will help you see how your partner behaves and how this makes you feel. You can then take the app to someone who can help you. There are places to get help listed on the app too.

Please reach out if you or someone you know suffers from domestic violence – ring 000 in case of an emergency.

There is also a Domestic Violence Counselling Service available 24/7 at 1800 737 732.

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