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WHAT CONSTITUTES FAMILY VIOLENCE? (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE)
Generally speaking, violence is abusive behaviour towards other members of a family, including defacto parties. Most people have arguments in their relationships, but when this turns into physical, verbal or emotional abuse, this can constitute violence. ‘Family violence’ is defined as conduct, whether actual or threatened, by a person towards a member of the person’s family that causes that person to fear for his/her personal well-being or safety. When someone has been violent towards another family member, they may seriously limit their ability to have the children reside with them, or have contact with them. The Court has to ensure they do not expose people to violence.
Stalking involves harassing or frightening someone, this may be by following them, making phone calls or sending something to that person knowing it will scare them.
This is an obvious form of abuse. It may involve pushing, hitting, shaking, choking kicking, biting, throwing objects, driving dangerously to frighten you, threaten or threatening to physically harm you, other people or even your pets. Injuries range from no visible signs to visible signs, injury and maybe even death in certain circumstances.
This is unwanted fondling, touching, using objects during sex against the other person’s wishes. Forcing you to have sex is a criminal offence, even if you are married or in a relationship.
This may include behaviours such as: discounting or dismissive of the victims abilities, withholding affection etc. Verbal abuse can also be disguised as jokes, accusing and blaming, judging and criticizing, trivializing and can also be manipulation with lies, threats of suicide, humiliation or ridicule, threats to stop you from seeing your children, undermining parenting ability, threatening, name calling, ordering people around, denial of anger or abuse and abusive anger.
This may include preventing you from seeing your friends and family, making you feel guilty about going to work or socialising or constantly checking up on your whereabouts.
This is when your partner or another family member takes control of your financial affairs when you don’t want them to, or prevents you from having access to money.
Can this be happening to me?
Abuse can be difficult to identify, because an abusive person doesn’t always act this way. Sometimes they may be loving and kind. But if you often feel afraid of upsetting the other person and you change what you do to avoid their anger, then this maybe a sign that you are being abused.
Children are also affected if they live in a home where there is abuse. Remember, you’re not to blame for the abuse. You have a right to feel safe and to live a life free from abuse.
INTERVENTION OR APPREHENDED VIOLENCE ORDERS
A victim of family violence may obtain an intervention Order through the Magistrates Court (Victoria) or Local Court (NSW). It is usually a fast and easily accessible remedy. An order may be ex parte (without the other party being present at court) if urgent. An intervention order is made by a magistrate if he is satisfied that a person has assaulted a family member or is likely to do so. It is up to the person applying for the order to convince the magistrates that they require this order. The Court may grant an interim intervention Order pending a final decision about the application if the court believes it is necessary to ensure the safety of the affected family member, to preserve property or protect a child who has been subjected to family violence. An intervention order may: –
- restrict a person’s access to a certain premises or from contacting the affected family member;
- prevent him/her from threatening the family member;
- prevent them from publishing any material on the internet (i.e.. facebook or twitter);
- prevent them from damaging jointly owned property or order the return of the affected family members property;
- Prohibit the respondent from causing another person to contact the affected family member;
- Require the respondent to go to Counselling
- revoke any licence to carry or firearms.
An application for an intervention order can also be made under the Personal Safety Intervention Orders Act 2010 where there is no family relationship or the parties are neighbours, friends or mere acquaintances.
FAMILY VIOLENCE SAFETY NOTICES (VICTORIA)
In some urgent cases, the police can apply for a Family Violence Safety Notice on behalf of the affected family member if the police believe that it is necessary to ensure the safety of the affected family member and his/her child. The police are able to apply for a safety notice outside of normal court business hours. These notices provide protection immediately until an order can be made by the Courts.
IS A FAMILY VIOLENCE INTERVENTION ORDER A CRIMINAL MATTER?
An application for a family violence intervention order is a civil matter between the parties, unlike a criminal matter which is between the State of Victoria and/or New South Wales and an individual.
If a family violence intervention order is breached (that is, the conditions of an intervention order are not complied with), the respondent may be charged by the Police with a criminal offence for breaching the intervention order.