If you are a victim of domestic violence and want to seek legal advice, we understand that this is a very sensitive issue that requires careful attention, particularly if your children are impacted. You probably have a lot of questions about your rights and what will happen if you do take legal action against your partner, such as:
- How would I leave?
- Where can I go?
- The police have filed an application for me, what do I do?
- The police have attended but have not applied for an order – what can I do?
- How will I be able to keep my children safe?
We also find many people are still not sure of whether their case qualifies as domestic violence. The definition of domestic violence has been widened over time and now includes conduct from one party to another that is:
- Physically or sexually abusive.
- Emotionally or psychologically abusive.
- Economically abusive.
- Controlling or dominating in nature, and which causes a person to fear for their safety or wellbeing, or that of someone else.
This is not an exhaustive list, however examples of such conduct could include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Causing injury to a person or threatening to do so.
- Coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so.
- Causing damage to a person’s property or threatening to do so.
- Depriving a person of their liberty or threatening to do so.
- Threatening a person with the death or injury of the person, a child of the person or someone else.
- Threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to torment, intimidate or frighten the person to whom such behaviour is directed.
- Causing or threatening to cause the death of, or injury to, an animal so as to control, dominate or coerce the person.
- Unauthorised surveillance of a person, defined as the unreasonable monitoring or tracking of a person’s movements, activities or interpersonal associations without that person’s consent e.g. reading a person’s SMS messages, monitoring an email account or internet browser history, monitoring a person’s account with a social networking internet site, or using a GPS device to track a person’s movements.
- Unlawfully stalking a person.
Importantly, a child may be considered to have been exposed to domestic violence if the child hears or otherwise experiences the effect of domestic violence. This includes:
- Overhearing threats of abuse
- Experiencing financial stress arising from economic abuse
- Seeing or hearing an assault
- Comforting or aiding a person who has been physically abused
- Observing bruising or other injuries of a person who has been physically abused
- Cleaning up a site after property has been damaged
- Being present at a domestic violence incident that is attended by Police.
If you believe that one or several these examples apply to you and/or your children, or have circumstances unique to these which you want to discuss, you should contact us today so we can help you or point you in the direction of others who can. We understand it may be difficult to discuss these issues, or to leave a relationship of this nature, but we promise to ensure your enquiry is kept confidential and that your matter will be treated supportively and sensitively.
If your spouse is alleging domestic violence against you, caution should be exercised particularly where children are involved or in situations where a Domestic Violence Application has already been filed against you. You should obtain legal advice urgently so that you can understand the impact that such allegations may have on you as well as your parenting matters.
You or your children may also be at risk for numerous other reasons. This may be as a result of the health and/or psychological health of a parent or a child, drug or alcohol use, or criminal behaviour by a child or parent. If you are in such a situation, contact us today so that we can help you with some solutions to address and/or minimise such risk.
Importantly, if you feel that either you and/or your children are at risk, or you feel threatened or unsafe, you should not hesitate to contact the Police on 000 for immediate assistance.