It takes a lot of courage to disclose an experience of sexual assault, domestic or family violence. Responding sensitively can make a real difference to someone's wellbeing and how they approach their situation.
Even if you do not deal with domestic and family violence very often, it is important to respond in ways that support the needs of the person impacted.
Two key principles are:
Thinking of safety first. Consider: Is what I am doing making it safer for the person experiencing sexual, domestic or family violence?
Holding perpetrators responsible. Consider: Is what I’m doing sending a clear message that the perpetrator is responsible and accountable for their violence, not the person who experiences it?
Make sure you are working at the level you have been trained and feel comfortable with. If you have not had training in this area, or do not feel you have had enough training, the best thing to do is to respond sensitively and refer the person on to specialist services. You can do this by:
Helping people to process and recover from the trauma arising from sexual, domestic and family violence is specialist work. However, all workers can learn how to respond in a trauma-informed way.
The best way to make sure you are responding well to disclosures of violence is to get training. The type of training that is right for you will depend on your role and professional background. Our training and professional development page has more information about the different types of roles and training available.
DV-alert is a program that provides free nationally recognised training that can help you:
If you are a community frontline worker there is no training fee, with the program fully funded by the Department of Social Services. Participants who complete the nationally accredited face-to-face workshops may also be supported to help cover costs for travel, accommodation and staff backfill.
There are a range of professional and personal benefits to getting training. Depending on the type of training, benefits might include:
See the DV-alert website for more information on the workshops and training that they offer.