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How to help if someone discloses family violence

Most families or carers of people with disabilities are caring, supportive, loving and compassionate. Sadly, not all people with disabilities are treated with respect by their family. Some families and carers have used family violence against family members who have a disability. Help is available for those who have experienced family violence and those who have used violence against family members.

It can be difficult for someone who has experienced family violence to tell their story. You can make a difference by offering your patience, care, support and time.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Listen non-judgmentally to what is being said.
  • Believe the disclosure and take it seriously.
  • Say something like: "I'm glad you told me. It is a brave thing to do."
  • Tell the person it is not their fault.
  • Inform the person that there are people who can help.
  • Actively help and encourage the person to seek support.
  • Help the person develop a safety plan (see below).
  • Remember you can always consult with the police and specialist family violence workers.
  • If a person needs urgent medical care or is in immediate danger from family violence, ring the police on 000.


  • Inform your manager or supervisor, especially if you are in a paid carer role.
  • Document in the client's file; their disclosure; willingness to access services and what those were; the action you took and follow up care required.
  • Remember to make a report to Child Protection if a person is under 18 and has experienced or witnessed family violence.

Planning for your safety

If you have been hurt by family violence tell someone like the police, a family violence worker, your carer or your caseworker. This person will help you make a plan to keep you safe. This is called safety planning. It is important that you, with the help of a family violence worker, carer or caseworker make a safety plan. Your safety is important. If you have children their safety is also very important.

Here are some safety plans and posters that you can use.


Note for carers or caseworkers: If you are helping develop a safety plan for someone who has been hurt by family violence you will also need to:

  • Have a copy of the safety plan.
  • Record it in the client's file.
  • Ensure the people nominated are aware of, and agree to, their role in the safety plan.
  • Regularly review and update the safety plan.
  • Ask the client what might stop them from implementing their safety plan. Address any barriers the client raises.

Remember you can consult with a family violence worker or ask them to help with safety planning. A basic safety plan needs to include the following:

  • The contact numbers for a family violence organisation.
  • Other emergency contact numbers.
  • The identification of a safe place to go if in danger.
  • The identification of a friend or neighbours who can assist in an emergency.
  • The identification of a way to contact the emergency support person and a plan to get to a safe place.
  • Access to cash money and important documents.


Introduction/James was a victim of physical family violence.

Emily was a victim of sexual family violence.

Barry was a victim of social family violence.

Kim was a victim of emotional family violence.

Jenny was a victim of financial family violence.

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