Telephone and online counselling - what to expect

  • 1800RESPECT counsellors understand that everyone's experience of domestic, family or sexual violence is different
  • Whatever your situation, it is important to know that help and support are available
  • Our trained counsellors are guided by you, your needs and your feelings about what is right for you and your situation
  • This page answers some of the common questions people have about our service.


What to expect when you contact us

We know that talking about sexual, domestic and family violence can be hard. When you contact 1800RESPECT, you will talk to a trained counsellor who will listen and support you in what feels right for you and your situation.

We will work with you to help you identify what you can do and to find the right services or support for you. Everyone's situation is different and no one knows your situation better than you.

We can be contacted by phone or online chat, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Accessing our service

1800RESPECT is a counselling, information and referral service for all people in Australia, including:

  • People who don't speak English
  • People who find it easier to speak through an interpreter or translator
  • People who are blind or vision impaired
  • People who are deaf or hearing impaired
  • People who don't speak or have difficulty with speech.

For information on how to use our service in these cases, see our Accessibility page.

At 1800RESPECT we work with a trauma informed practice, creating a safe and confidential space so that we can best support people who have been impacted by domestic and family violence, and sexual assault. We recognise that people from all walks of life, gender and sexual orientation can be impacted by domestic and family violence and we are impartial in our support.

If you are not satisfied or have concerns with the service you received from 1800RESPECT during a call or web chat, you can lodge a complaint via our website.

We take complaints very seriously and recognise that any feedback contributes to the ongoing improvement of our service. When we receive your complaint we will conduct a thorough investigation. If the issue is complex, we may require a longer time period and will advise you if this is the case.

1800RESPECT investigates complaints in a manner which seeks to identify the factors which contributed to your experience with the service. This process includes reviewing case documentation, chat or call recordings, speaking with you and our counsellors, and assessing how closely the service we provided you aligns with our practice and service delivery model.

Where your contact with the service was anonymous we will make every attempt to locate the records of your contact with what information you can provide us, however if we are unable to find the specific instance of support, or if it was requested that the content of the support we provided you go unrecorded, this may impact how much feedback we are able to provide.

If you are not satisfied with our response to your complaint, as 1800RESPCT is funded by the  Commonwealth Government through the Department of Social Services, you may lodge a complaint with the Department of Social Services.

We will keep copies of complaints correspondence and discussions as required by legislation.

It is free to call us from a landline, payphone and most mobile phones. However, some mobile phone companies do charge for these calls, so you will need to check with your company.

The 1800RESPECT phone number may appear on your phone bill. This means that anyone who can see your phone bill may be able to see that a call was made to our number.

The majority of network providers will hide the number, meaning that it does not appear on the phone bill. However, unless you have confirmed with your network provider that they exclude 1800RESPECT from your itemised phone bill, you should assume that the number will appear on your bill and to call from a different phone, if possible.

If there is any concern that the person using violence may have access to your phone, you should ensure that you delete your call history on your device.

Yes. You might be a worried friend or family member, or a worker supporting someone. We can talk to you about some of the things you can do to help. We can also answer questions and put you in touch with other support services.

All children have a right to live a life free from violence. In every state and territory certain people are required by law to report violence, abuse or neglect against people under 18 years old. For more information on mandatory reporting requirements for child abuse and neglect (including sexual abuse) see the Australian Institute of Family Studies Mandatory Reporting Resource Sheet.

To find out more about the affects of violence and abuse on children and how you can provide support, see our Children and violence pages.

1800RESPECT is a service that supports everyone impacted by domestic, family and sexual violence, including men. 1800RESPECT counsellors will work with men to understand their situation and will provide options for them to access further support. This may be access to specialist trauma counselling or to other support services, specifically for men and boys dealing with violence.

All violence is wrong. It is a violation of human rights and impacts negatively on a person’s physical, emotional and social wellbeing. While research shows that most people experiencing sexual assault and domestic and family violence are women and girls, men and boys can also be impacted. They can be experiencing violence themselves or be impacted by the violence being perpetrated on a loved one, for example, their sister, mother, brother or friend.

If you would like to access your call records for legal purposes, you can request these by contacting the Privacy Team.

While we may be able to provide you with some information about your contact with our services, please note that in order to protect the privacy of our service users and counsellors, recordings of chats or calls cannot be released without a Subpoena/Search Warrant/Court Order.

You can submit an enquiry via Contact Us to request your call records or for more information about the process of accessing your records.

Very infrequently, we receive subpoenas requesting us to produce personal information for use in civil or criminal court proceedings.  By law, we must comply with the request unless the court or party who issued the subpoena can be persuaded to set it aside. All subpoenas must be directed to General Counsel of 1800RESPECT, at

We will take reasonable steps to contact you if we receive a subpoena requiring disclosure of your personal information.  If we know that you are concerned about the request, or if we believe that disclosure might cause you further harm or distress, we will use our reasonable endeavours to object to the disclosure of the documents or inspection of the documents by a/any parties to the proceedings, on whatever legal grounds may be available to us.

(In this situation, you may also wish to obtain your own independent legal advice.  If you have a personal right or privilege that is affected by information relevant to the subpoena, you may be entitled to lodge a notice of objection, an application to set aside or an objection to inspection of the documents requested under the subpoena).

We generally cannot produce information provided anonymously or under a pseudonym in response to a subpoena. 

We will not give your information to anyone else unless:

  • You have given permission for us to do so
  • You or someone else is in immediate danger
  • We are required to do so by law – for example, to comply with mandatory reporting requirements in relation to suspected cases of child abuse and neglect, or in response to a subpoena.

We usually keep a record of your name (or the name you wish to use), as well as other information that will help us support you.

You always have the option to use a pseudonym (fake name) if that is what you would prefer.

If you have consented to your call being recorded, we will keep a copy of the call recording. If you have contacted us online via the ‘chat’ option, we will keep a record of the ‘chat’ interaction.  We use call recordings and chat transcripts to improve our service, and access to them is controlled. 

Your information may be shared on a confidential basis between Telstra Health, the Department of Social Services and those contractors and service providers who have been engaged by Telstra Health or the Department of Social Services to provide you with the service.   

Clinicians engaged by Telstra Health to provide the counselling service store your information in a secure record system.  This helps us to maintain a continuous record of your interactions with the service, so you don’t have to repeat your story every time you contact us.  For more information, see our Privacy statement.

Normally, yes. We do this to help us to improve our service. If you don’t want a transcript of your chat interaction to be recorded, you can tell the counsellor who chats with you online.

Please note that in order to protect the privacy of our service users and counsellors, these recordings cannot be released without a Subpoena/Search Warrant/Court Order.

Normally, yes. We do this to help us to improve our service. If you don’t want your call to be recorded, you can tell the counsellor who answers your call. You can also choose to remain anonymous or to use a pseudonym (fake name) when you call. 

Please note that in order to protect the privacy of our service users and counsellors these recordings cannot be released without a Subpoena/Search Warrant/Court Order.

We ask questions that help us get you the right support and information. You don’t have to answer any of the questions if you don’t want to.

 The sort of information we might ask about is:

  • Your gender (whether you are male, female, intersex, etc.)
  • Your name. However, you don't have to give your real name. You can choose a different name you would like to use.
  • Your age
  • The state or territory you live in and your postcode
  • How safe you think you might be at the moment
  • The kind of violence that has happened to you or you are experiencing
  • What you think you might need at the moment to help you
  • What support you might have to assist you
  • If you’re worried about anyone else (for example, your children or others)
  • Whether you have specific needs (for example, because of a disability or having trouble understanding English)

No. You don’t have to give your name or any other identifying information, so you can choose to remain anonymous, or to use a pseudonym (fake name).  How much information you give is up to you. 

Our counsellors will focus on exploring what’s happening for you at the moment, your current safety and the safety of anyone in your care, how you are coping, and help you work out what kind of support you need.

  • Help you understand if what is going on is sexual, domestic or family violence
  • Talk about ways to improve your safety
  • Explain the different sorts of services and support available for you
  • Connect you with different services to assist you
  • Connect you with specialist counselling and support groups
  • Help with things you are worried about, for example:
    • What will I do about money if I leave?
    • What will I do about a place to live if I leave?
    • How do I keep my children safe?
    • How do I keep my pets safe?
    • What happens when I report a sexual assault?
    • Will I need to have a medical examination?
    • What kind of support is available to help me continue with my study or employment?

1800RESPECT counsellors do not provide counselling to Australians who perpetrate violence. However there are a range of  programs which work with Australians seeking to change their violent behaviour that our counsellors can refer people to.

Yes. We understand that everyone's situation is different. We can help you find support no matter what you decide to do. There are ways to make yourself safer even if you don’t or are not able to leave.

Yes. If you feel there is something not right about the way you are being treated you can contact us to talk with one of our counsellors. They can help you understand what you have experienced and assist you to access the support you need.

Your call or online chat will be answered by someone who:

  • Understands sexual, domestic and family violence
  • Knows how hard it can be to talk about it
  • Listens and believes you
  • Understands that everyone’s situation is different and that no one knows your situation better than you
  • Can talk through options and help you decide what information, people or services will be most helpful for you.

More questions?

If you still have questions you can contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or through online chat. For more information about domestic, family and sexual violence and how to increase your safety, visit the following pages.

What to expect when you contact 1800RESPECT

What to expect when you contact 1800RESPECT

This video explains what to expect when you contact our confidential service.