Women encouraged to seek specialist help

WOMEN who are considering leaving a violent relationship should seek specialist help, says Centre for Non-Violence chief executive Margaret Augerinos.

"When women leave, and up to 18 months post-separation, is one of the most dangerous times that the women and children face," Ms Augerinos said.

"As we know from some of the recent high-profile cases, in most of those cases, the women had left or were in the process of leaving.

"So it is a really dangerous time.

"Being able to speak to a support service confidentially, speaking to someone who can talk to them about what the risks are, what options are available to assist them to safely plan and to actually assess the risks so women are aware of what it is they're facing, is really crucial."

Family violence has been in the spotlight this week after Fiona Warzywoda's death.

Ms Warzywoda, 33, of Melton West, was allegedly stabbed to death by her de-facto husband in the middle of a busy Sunshine shopping strip on Wednesday last week.

Relatives of Ms Warzywoda, a mother-of-four who had planned to return to Bendigo and start a new life, have accused Victoria's overwhelmed justice system of failing to protect their family.

She was allegedly stabbed to death with a fishing knife by her abusive de-facto husband Craig McDermott, just hours after taking out a family violence order.

McDermott, 38, handed himself in to police on Thursday morning after spending a day on the run.

McDermott, of Sunshine North, appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court later that night, charged with murder and was remanded until August 7.

"When you get quite high-profile cases happen we do get significantly increased contact from women who are concerned about their own circumstances and who are needing additional support to manage some of the stress that goes with reading what can happen," Ms Augerinos said.

"It does heighten people's anxiety."

Ms Augerinos said Easter and other holiday periods were traditionally busy periods for the Centre for Non-Violence.

"Sometimes over the school holiday period and other family times like Easter and Christmas there's a spike often in police attendances and referrals into the service," she said.

"It can be a tricky time around child contact time, families needing to make arrangements for children, and that can often lead to family violence incidents as well ... A lot of the women we're working with have had repeat police attendances so they'll contact police for assistance and support, we'll work with them for a period of time, things will quieten down a bit and then they'll represent when there's a next crisis.

"But equally we're also having contact with women who are making contact for the first time."

Ms Augerinos said people could look out for signs of family violence and encourage their friends or colleagues to seek help.

"Things to look out for, particularly in the workplace, are unexplained absences, increased sick days.

"There's also things like perhaps someone appears to be quite depressed, quite nervous, perhaps their partner calls them quite frequently at work for whatever reason.

"They can often be signs that maybe things are not too good for that person.

"Asking open ended questions, asking if everything is OK at home, and being open and listen, creating an opportunity for conversation and not making judgement is important." 

Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide