Victims of domestic violence don't have to face the journey towards reclaiming their lives alone.
Although reaching out for support and guidance can feel like a daunting task, the Lake Illawarra Police domestic violence unit is urging victims and their families to consider stepping out from behind the shadow of fear and isolation.
Community safety officer Sergeant Jason Harrison said a simple phone call could help arm a victim with life-changing information.
"It's a journey and once it begins you're not left alone," he said.
Sgt Harrison said victims were often extremely hesitant to contact police and rarely made first contact.
"The bulk of complaints are made to general duties police, usually through a neighbour or family member, to advise police a domestic violence situation is occurring at a home," he said.
"When they arrive they are usually confronted with silence and fear. A lot of the time it's because the victim doesn't want to cause repercussions for their partner or themselves."
He said those victims often tried to avoid telling the truth or downplayed the situation.
"There are concerns that once they give information to police that their partner must get locked up, or that it could lead to further violence," Sgt Harrison said.
But legal concerns, such as apprehended violence orders, were just one aspect of escaping domestic violence.
"The domestic violence team ensures victims of domestic violence are referred to appropriate community support services," he said.
"We also develop and implement, when required, strategies aimed at reducing repeat domestic and family violence offenders and victims.
He said domestic violence did not always involve physical violence, but also psychological harm, such as withholding money, as a way of repressing a person's independence and identity.
Victims of domestic violence and concerned family and friends are encouraged to contact Lake Illawarra Police on 4232 5599.
Pictured: Lake Illawarra Police domestic violence support unit workers Senior Constable David Willis, Senior Constable Rowena Frace, domestic violence support worker Rachael Brophy, Constable Xiexha Meah, Senior Constable Elisabeth Catto, Sergeant Jason Harrison, Diane Martin and Senior Constable Danielle Bastin. Photo: SYLVIA LIBER