Unfortunately, OUSA Student Support sees family, domestic, and flatting violence all too frequently. Often violence in a flat will be minimised as not “real domestic violence,” because it is happening among peers rather than in a family setting, but violence in any form or setting is not OK. Flatting violence is sadly widespread and can be psychological, physical, or sexual in nature.
Psychological violence involves behaviours that lead to psychological trauma. It aims to manipulate, hurt, weaken, or frighten the victim.
Types of this behaviour include:
- Constant criticism or humiliation
- Damaging or threatening to damage possessions
- Controlling finances
- Controlling/threatening self-harm to control you
Physical violence includes hitting, biting, punching, hair pulling, choking, slapping, making you drink or take drugs when you don’t want to, and using or threatening to use weapons.
Sexual violence includes forcing you to have sex or do other sexual acts, unwanted sexual touching, or forcing you to watch porn. No one can consent when they are intoxicated or coerced in some way.
Some things you might notice in a friend who is experiencing violence include:
- Personality changes
- Changes in behaviour
- Always cancelling on plans
- Acting anxious or nervous
- Hiding or making excuses for injuries
If you’re worried about a friend please don’t ignore it. It’s better to find out nothing is wrong than to do nothing. OUSA Student Support and other support services can help you figure out what to say and/or do. If you believe someone is in immediate danger you can call the Police on 111.
Worried about a Flatmate’s Mental Health?
Some warning signs to look out for:
- Isolating themselves to their room, avoiding others, acting closed off
- Changes in personality
- Obsessive behaviour
- Changes in weight, change in sleep habits
- Upset a lot, tearful, excessive worrying, low mood
- Erratic, irrational, manic
- Abusing alcohol, excessive use of recreational drugs
- Self-harm or suicidal ideation
What you can do to help:
- Check in on them
- Be empathetic
- Make sure you know the different avenues of support available to you
- Offer to go with them to get support
- OUSA Student Support is a great start to support your flatmate through this and will be a support for you too
Some options of free support:
- https://ousasupporthub.org.nz/ – OUSA Student Support
A list of helplines that can be contacted by phone
Youthline offers face to face counselling. You can book an appt via the website
Student Health for GP, counselling, psychology or psychiatrist support
Kowhai Centre for counselling support at Otago Polytechnic. You can book an appt via the website
- EPS – ring 0800 46 78 46 or access through A&E at the Dunedin Hospital https://www.healthpoint.co.nz/public/mental-health-specialty/southern-dhb-mental-health-emergency-services/
If there is a crisis with your flatmate’s mental health that needs to be attended to immediately such as self-harming or suicidal ideation then connect with EPS (Emergency Psychiatric Service). You can access this service through ED at Dunedin Hospital. If there are immediate safety concerns where you or your flatmates safety is compromised – then call the POLICE ASAP! When in doubt, call 111!
Support for yourself when supporting someone with mental health struggles:
- Ensure your safety is not compromised
- Reach out to OUSA Student Support
- Have boundaries in place
- You are supporting as a friend not a professional
- Connect with your own support network
- Seek support for yourself to support others.
Remember to reach out to OUSA Student Support if you have any questions, concerns or queries surrounding any flatting situations that you are unsure about.