VOCAL Inc NSW. Level 1, 432 Hunter St, Newcastle. ABN 99 422 394 085 (02) 4926 2711

Abuse & Harassment

Abuse, Harassment, Bullying, Threats, Crime & Violence – a continuum of the same behaviours?


Some random crimes are opportunistic events with little or no warning; however, many abusive and damaging behaviours may precede ‘a crime’, be part of a crime and continue after a violent, criminal event. The victim is the target, the perpetrator inflicts the abuse; their goal is generally undeserved and unearned power and entitlement.

We believe we have a human right to safety, protection and freedom from abuse and torture. Yet every day, abuse negatively affect the lives of many ordinary people, families, schools, workplaces, sporting and cultural activities in Australia. Remedies – like police intervention, protection and favourable court outcomes may be awfully hard to get.

So what is it, why does it happen and what can we do or understand, to prevent, to heal?


Recognising: You’d be shocked at how many victims of serious abuse and violence don’t identify their experience as abuse, violence, domestic violence, bullying, harassment or criminal. That’s because while research tries hard to define these headings with points of difference, real life often doesn’t distinguish or educate until ‘after’.

Kids who abuse: For example, a school yard ‘bully’ targeting your child has one ‘title’, yet the same child at home might be identified as just ‘sibling rivalry’ – as if there is a different, more reasonable excuse, pattern or cause for abuse. Both examples have one or more children, asserting size, right and dominance over another. Sometimes the behaviours of dominance, power and control by adults within a family is copied by the children and displayed because the children assume that’s what is acceptable and normal. “Monkey see, monkey do”.  Sometimes a child has no power at home, so tries to take their frustration out by asserting power over others.

Abuse affects many adults: And can occur in any place or situation, in the street, in workplaces, hospitality venues, care facilities, hospitals, and anywhere else in the community. It can target people of all ages and backgrounds – the victim and their supporters, witnesses, the offender and their family if the matter escalates.

What does it ‘feel like’: Any ‘victim’, especially but not only, of longer term abuse may experience – anger, fear, loss of self-respect, sadness (perhaps depression), potential self-harm, poor school outcomes, fear of failure, shame, even self loathing, if it continues.

What is abuse? Abuse – in any form – is deliberate behaviour that intentionally, and often repeatedly, seeks to put you down, embarrass you, shame you, make you lose self-confidence, isolate you, make you feel vulnerable, cause you to lose goods, money, quality of life. At its worst it makes the victim feel unworthy, hopeless, leading to self-harm, eating / drug related disorders and suicide. Or choose to be violent.


If you don’t like it and you ask the person to stop, and they don’t, it’s abuse!

It’s deliberate, not a joke that you can’t take, not you being too sensitive, or any of the many excuses abusive people like to use to excuse their unacceptable, painful and upsetting behaviour.  So what if you are sensitive? You are allowed to be.

No one else has the right to define you.