If you are involved in a family violence case, you might be struggling to understand what’s going on. Alternatively, if you are experiencing family violence, you might be curious about what legal actions can be taken to escape your situation. In either circumstance, it might be helpful to read our simple, straightforward guide to family violence cases. Here, we explain how family violence cases are dealt with in court, and what the involved parties can do to resolve the issue. For more information about domestic violence cases, reach out to our family violence lawyers at Duffy & Simon.
What is Family Violence?
Family violence, or domestic violence, describes a pattern of behaviour where one person tries to control or scare another. This kind of abuse can take many forms and can transpire within many different types of relationships.
Behaviours that Constitute Family Violence:
There are many behaviours that can be considered family violence. These are the most commonly recognised:
- Physical violence
- Psychological or emotional abuse
- Verbal abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Financial or economic abuse
- Abuse using technology to threaten, embarass or monitor
- Mistreatment and neglect
- Social abuse
These forms of abuse may be obvious or more surreptitious.
Types of Relationships in Which Family Violence Can Occur:
Family violence does not occur exclusively between romantic partners or parents and children. The above types of family violence can be present in a range of relationships, including:
- A de-facto relationship, civil union or marriage
- Romantic relationships between girlfriends, boyfriends or partners
- Relatives by birth, marriage or adoption
- ‘Family-like’ relationships according to traditions and social practices
- The relationship between an individual, such as an older person or a person with a disability, and their carer
What is the Punishment for Domestic Violence?
If an incident of family violence is reported, the police may decide to apply for an intervention order or a family violence safety notice for the affected parties. An intervention order is a court order designed to protect an individual, their family and their property from a partner, ex-partner or family member. A family safety notice is necessary if the affected party requires immediate protection and can be established before an intervention order application is heard in court. It should be noted that individuals can also apply for an intervention order without the police.
The person who has committed acts of violence (known as the respondent) must follow the rules laid out by the intervention order or family violence safety notice. Depending on the conditions of the intervention order, the law might require the respondent to:
- Stop the violent behaviour.
- Cease contact or communication with the protected person
- Not go to or stay near the protected person.
Disobeying these rules is a criminal offence, and could result in fines and jail time.
Do Family Violence Cases Require Evidence?
If you apply for an intervention order, you will need to attend a hearing in court. In this hearing, you must prove to the Magistrate that the individual from which you require protection has committed acts of family violence and is likely to do so again. In doing this, you should provide as much evidence as you can to support your case.
Types of Evidence:
- Your story, such as your detailed account of what happened and why you fear it may happen again.
- Personal documents, such as letters or photos.
- Official records, including police statements, medical evidence and legal documents.
To successfully defend against an intervention order, the respondent must prove that they did not commit family violence or are unlikely to commit family violence again. It is also possible to successfully contest an intervention order if it is found that the behaviour of the respondent would not cause a reasonable person to fear for their safety. In either circumstance, the respondent will need to demonstrate that the applicant has failed to provide sufficient evidence for their case.
If you, as a respondent, decide to fight an intervention order, you may be required to provide your own evidence. This evidence needs to prove that the applicant’s evidence is false, irrelevant or unpersuasive.
Seeking Help as a Perpetrator of Family Violence
If you are committing family violence, or have in the past, it is highly recommended that you seek help. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, it is possible to better yourself and learn how to regulate your behaviour. If you are hesitant to take this step, you’re not alone — the majority of people who commit family violence never seek help. However, it is possible to overcome this hesitancy and improve upon both your own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around you.
Reasons Why Perpetrators of Family Violence Don’t Seek Help
There are many reasons why those who commit family violence may not seek help. These are some of the most common:
- They believe they are entitled to dominate family members and solve problems with violence. They may feel that they were ‘provoked’ and justified in their behaviour.
- They cannot reconcile the idea with their notion of masculinity. As most perpetrators of family violence are men and a common conception of masculinity prioritises men being silent, strong and invulnerable, seeking help is viewed as weak and emasculating.
- They are experiencing feelings of shame or fear of judgement.
These feelings and ideas are not uncommon. It is possible to move past them and find a better way to live.
Can Counselling Help Someone Who Commits Domestic Violence?
Regular counselling can help perpetrators of family violence to understand and change their behaviour. There are many counselling and behaviour change programs available that are designed to help men address their beliefs on violence, control and masculinity. These programs encourage male perpetrators to understand the motivations behind their violent behaviours, the impact of their behaviours and the strategies they can use to deal with their behaviours.
Practical Strategies for Managing Violent Tendencies
In counselling or a behaviour change program, participants may learn the following:
- That violence doesn’t come from anger, but the urge to hurt or dominate others.
- That violent behaviour will damage relationships with family members.
- How to behave in respectful ways towards others.
- How to recognise signs of anger, and use strategies like self-talk and time-out to calm themselves.
A trained counsellor can help you find your own individualised strategies to remain calm, respectful and non-violent. Remember, it’s never too late to take responsibility for your actions.
Do You Need Help Handling Your Family Violence Case?
Cases of family violence are often confusing, stressful and exhausting for everyone involved. If you would like help or advice regarding your family violence case, contact the lawyers at Duffy & Simon today.