What is it?
Many people think that domestic violence has to involve serious physical violence, but the definition is in fact much broader. The definition of domestic violence is set out in the Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Act 2012 (Qld), and includes:
- Physical or sexual abuse;
- Emotional or psychological abuse;
- Financial abuse;
- Threats or coercion;
- Any other controlling or dominating behaviours which cause a person to fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of another person.
This means that anything from yelling or swearing at someone to unreasonably withholding access to finances, monitoring text messages or emails or even injuring or the family pet can all constitute domestic violence.
What do I do?
Your first priority must always be your safety and the safety of any children in your care. If you are experiencing domestic violence, you should:
- Contact the police. If you feel unsafe, you should always call 000 immediately. The police can intervene and, if necessary issue a Police Protection Notice on the spot to require a person to leave a property. The police can also bring an application for a Protection Order on your behalf if they consider it appropriate.
- Seek a Protection Order. This is also known as a Domestic Violence Order (or, in other Australian States, an Apprehended Violence Order or Intervention Order). You can seek a Protection Order by attending any Magistrates Court during its opening hours and filling in an Application for a Protection Order. If you ask and the Court considers it appropriate, they can issue a Temporary Protection Order on the spot without notifying the perpetrator of the domestic violence and which takes effect immediately. This is usually reviewed at a Court “mention” within a week or two of the Temporary Protection Order being made.
- Seek legal advice. We can assist you with preparing your application for a Protection Order and represent you at Court to ensure that the Orders made protect you as completely as possible.
Can the Court help?
The Court can issue a Protection Order only if the domestic violence occurred between persons in a “relevant relationship”, which includes married, de facto and separated couples, or between one of those parties and an a child, relative or associate of the aggrieved.
The person who has experienced domestic violence is known as the “aggrieved”, and the person who has committed domestic violence is known as the “respondent”.
The Court has a range of options open to it. It can either make the standard Order (that the respondent be of good behaviour towards and not commit domestic violence upon the applicant) or add any number of conditions, including:
- That the respondent cease living at a property;
- That the respondent hand over any weapons in their possession;
- That the respondent not come within a certain distance of the aggrieved;
- That the respondent not contact the aggrieved; and
- That the respondent not locate the aggrieved.
These Orders are generally made subject to any Order of the Federal Circuit Court or Family Court relating to parenting matters, although not always.
For further advice as to whether a Protection Order is appropriate in your particular circumstances, please contact our family law team.
An article by Elizabeth Mathews of our family law team.