Family and domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life. It is important to remember that no one has the right to hurt or threaten you, or your family.
The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 was put in place to give people legal protection from violent relationships. The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act has as its main objectives:
- To maximise the safety protection and wellbeing of people who fear or experience domestic violence, and to minimise disruption to their lives;
- To prevent or reduce domestic violence and the exposure of children to domestic violence; and
- To ensure that people who commit domestic violence are held accountable for their actions.
WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence is formally defined in section 8(1) of the Domestic and Family Violence Act 2012. Domestic violence includes behaviour by one person (the first person) to another person (the second person) with whom the first person is in a relevant relationship, that:
- Is physically or sexually abusive; or
- Is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
- Is economically abusive; or
- Is threatening; or
- Is coercive; or
- In any other way controls or dominates the second person and causes the second person to fear for his/her safety or well-being or for that of someone else.
The following are examples of behaviour that may fall into the category of “domestic violence”:
- Injuring you or threatening to injure you (punching, strangling you, grabbing your throat, pushing, slapping, pulling your hair or twisting your arms)
- Repeatedly calling, SMS texting or emailing you, or contacting you on your social networking site without your consent
- Damaging (or threatening to damage) your property (eg. punching holes in the walls or breaking plates)
- Stalking or following you or remaining outside your house or place of work
- Monitoring you (unauthorised surveillance) including reading your text messages, your email account, your internet browser history or your social networking site
- Putting you down
- Making racial taunts
- Holding you against your will
- Forcing you to engage in sexual activities without your consent
- Getting someone else to injure, intimidate, harass or threaten you, or damage your property
- Threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to scare you
- Threatening you with the death or harm of another person
- Threatening to withdraw their care of you if you don’t do something
- Coercing you into giving them your social security payments
- Forcing you to sign a power of attorney to them against your will so they manage your finances
- Threatening to disclose your sexual orientation to your friends or family without your consent
- Preventing you from making or keeping connections with your family, friends or culture, including cultural or spiritual ceremonies or practices
It is important to remember that domestic violence is not restricted to someone physically harming you.
WHAT CAN I DO IF I AM EXPERIENCING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
If you’re experiencing domestic violence you have the following options:
- Apply for a domestic violence order or ask the police to apply for you
- Apply for an urgent temporary protection order
- Ask the police to press charges against the person being violent towards you
WHO CAN APPLY FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER?
You can apply for a domestic violence order if you are experiencing violence in a relationship.
Relationships covered by the law include the following:
- An intimate personal relationship (de facto, married, couple, engaged)
- A family relationship (parent or former parent of a child aged over 18, or your relatives who are over 18)
- An informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them).
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER?
You can apply for a protection order at your local Magistrates Court, alternatively you may wish to speak with the police, or a lawyer, or someone you can trust and who can assist you with the application process.
You should get legal advice before applying for a domestic violence order.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN I APPLY FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER?
The person applying for the protection order is called the ‘’aggrieved”. The person against whom the order is to be made is called the “respondent”.
For urgent applications: if you think you or your children are at risk of violence and you need immediate protection you can apply for an urgent temporary protection order. The court will allow you to make an application for a domestic violence order before the respondent has been told about the application. You will be given another date to come to court and the respondent will also be notified of this date and the application. If you have a lawyer they can appear for you at the next court date.
Non-urgent applications: Once you have lodged the application with the court, you will receive a date on which both you and the respondent will need to attend court. This is called the first appearance date and is usually approximately 3-4 weeks after the application has been lodged.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT COURT?
When you go to court for the first time the Magistrate will want to know what is going on with the domestic violence application order. The respondent can choose to consent to the protection order being made or disagree with the application. If the respondent wishes to contest the protection order the court will set the matter down for a hearing.
The Court will also consider whether a temporary protection order should be put in place until the matter has been finalised. It is important to remember that if a temporary order is made it will prohibit contact between the parties and have serious consequences for the respondent should he/she breach the conditions of the temporary order. For these reasons, it is important that you are prepared for the first mention of a protection order application and that you have had legal advice.
At the hearing the Magistrate will consider the evidence from the person making the application for a domestic violence protection order, the respondent, and any witnesses, and decide whether a domestic violence protection order should be made. The Magistrate, in deciding whether to make an order, must be satisfied of the following:
- Whether a relevant relationship exists between the respondent and the aggrieved;
- Whether the respondent has committed domestic violence against the aggrieved; and
- If a domestic violence protection order is necessary or desirable to protect the aggrieved from domestic violence.
WHAT WILL A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER DO?
A standard domestic violence protection order requires the respondent to be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved and to not commit acts of domestic violence. The court can impose special conditions over and above the standard conditions if it thinks it is necessary such as not contacting, or attempting to contact the aggrieved.
WHAT IF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ORDER IS BREACHED?
Breaching a domestic violence order is a criminal offence. It is treated very seriously by the court. If a respondent breaches the conditions of a domestic violence order the police will investigate the breach. If the breach can be proved the respondent will be charged with breaching a domestic violence order which is a criminal offence. The court can impose a number of different penalties for this offence including: a fine, community service, a good behaviour bond, a variation of the existing orders and in the case of serious breaches a term of imprisonment.
If you have either been a victim of domestic violence or have been served with an application for a domestic violence order, it is important that you speak with a lawyer. RH Legal lawyers can help you through this difficult time. We will help understand your legal position, provide you with options moving forward, and if required, provide you with robust legal representation in court.
WHO ELSE CAN HELP?
If you need assistance or support, there are organisations that can help you:
If you feel you or your children are in danger, or have been threatened with violence, please contact the Police on 000.
LEGAL AID QUEENSLAND:
LAQ can assist you with legal advice, information and in some instances legal representation.
THE UNITING CARE COMMUNITY ELDER ABUSE HELPLINE:
A Queensland wide free service providing information, advice and referral for people experiencing or witnessing the abuse of an older person (60+ or 55+ for Aboriginal seniors).