Domestic violence of any shape or form is not tolerated in our community.
What is domestic violence and family violence?
Domestic and family violence involves one person in a relationship using violence or abuse to maintain power and control over the other party in the relationship. It is normally an ongoing pattern of behavior aimed at controlling the other person through fear.
Avoid the legal consequences and seek representation to avoid complications.
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services has listed many forms of domestic violence and this can include:
- physical abuse (including slapping, hitting, punching, pushing, kicking)
- threatening to hurt you, your children, pets, relatives, friends or work colleagues
- threatening to disclose your sexual orientation to other people against your wishes
- threatening to, or depriving you of your liberty (including locking you in the house so you cannot go out)
- stalking (including constantly following you by foot or car, constantly calling you by phone, text message and email, or staying outside your house or workplace). Stalking is a criminal offence in Queensland.
- damaging property to frighten and intimidate you (including punching holes in walls, breaking furniture, harming pets)
- emotional abuse (including criticising your personality, looks, the way you dress, saying you are a bad parent or threatening to hurt you, your children or your pets, or threatening to damage personal items you value)
- verbal abuse (including yelling, shouting, name-calling and swearing at you)
- sexual abuse (including forcing or pressuring you to have sex or participate in sexual acts)
- financial abuse (including taking control of your money, not giving you enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your funds, not letting you decide how it is spent)
- threatening to stop providing care for you if you don’t do what you are told (this sometimes happens to an elderly person or a person with an illness, disability or impairment who relies on another person to care for them)
- social abuse (including controlling where you go, not letting you see or have contact with your friends or family)
- depriving you of the necessities of life such as food, shelter and medical care
- spiritual abuse (including forcing you to attend religious activities against your wishes or stopping you from participating in the religious or cultural practices of your choice)
- threatening to commit suicide or self-harm to torment, intimidate or frighten you
Effect on Children
Domestic violence can be very damaging to children in a family that is subject to this form of behavior. It can have an ongoing and permanent effect on their interaction with other children, their schooling and in later relationships with other persons.
The Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services have recognised certain behaviors that children may show if they are being affected by domestic and family violence which include:
- copying the abusive or violent behavior
- sleeping difficulties such as nightmares
- trying to intervene to stop the abuse (this is how some children become injured during domestic and family violence incidents)
- being stunned into a terrified silence by what they see
- blaming themselves
- being afraid, angry and depressed
- bullying others or being bullied by others
- being cruel to animals
- regressive behaviours like bedwetting and thumb sucking
- being nervous and withdrawn
- changes in behaviour and/or academic performance at school
- displaying psychosomatic illnesses including unexplained headaches, asthma and stuttering
- running away from home
- attempting suicide or self-harm
- abusing alcohol and substances (in older children).
Domestic violence is controlled through the Magistrates Court of Queensland and in other State Courts in Australia.
Who can apply?
- the person experiencing the domestic and family violence (the aggrieved)
- someone else, for example a solicitor or social worker, can apply on behalf of the aggrieved with the aggrieved person’s consent
- a police officer attending a call out due to an incident of domestic and family violence. The consent of the aggrieved is not required for a police application
- someone acting under another Act for the aggrieved, for example, a guardian for a personal matter, or an administrator for a financial matter under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000
- the Adult Guardian can apply if they believe that the aggrieved needs legal protection but does not have the capacity to apply for a protection order
- someone who is appointed as the attorney of the aggrieved under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 and who makes the application under the enduring power of attorney.
Orders can be issued by the Court on a temporary or permanent nature. The general order made by the Court is:
- The respondent (the person who uses abuse or violence) must be of good behaviour towards the aggrieved (the person who needs the order to protect them) and not commit domestic violence
- If a named person is specified in the order the respondent must be of good behaviour towards the named person and not commit an act of associated domestic violence against the person.
Other orders can be made by the Court confiscating firearms, removing a party from the family home, limiting the powers of a party to contact the person affected by the domestic violence including children and orders prohibiting a party from being in the vicinity of the family home, the workplace of the other party or contacting the party by any means.
What are the police powers in relation to this?
The role of the Queensland Police is to respond to threats or incidences of violence and bring the matter before the Court. Many police officers are called to domestic violence incidents by victims or concerned neighbors.
The first priority of a police officer called to an incident is to ensure the safety of the parties involved.
A Queensland Police publication advises that:
If a police officer reasonably suspects an incident of violence (including physical, sexual, verbal or financial abuse; damage to property; harassment or intimidation; or threatening to do any of these), it is their duty to investigate the matter thoroughly.
This investigation may include:
- Separating the parties
- Asking personal questions — such as the history of the relationship and the reason for the present problem
- Searching the premises for anything associated with causing injury or harm
- Removing the person using domestic violence and placing them in custody for up to four hours.
Can I make my own domestic violence application?
If the police are involved and if the police bring an application on behalf of a person who has suffered domestic violence then the Prosecutors of the Police Department will represent that party in domestic violence proceedings.
However a party may have their own lawyer engaged to bring the domestic violence application on their behalf. The lawyer can draft the necessary application ensuring that it contains all relevant information that the Court will require to consider that application. The lawyer can represent the party in all aspects of the application and the subsequent hearings in the Court.
At Family Lawyers Mackay we have the knowledge and experience to advise and guide our clients through the many and varied intricacies associated with domestic violence proceedings. We will draft the necessary documents to ensure they set out all relevant circumstances to comply with the legislation requirements to achieve the best outcome and to represent our clients in domestic violence Court proceedings. We are only too happy to act on your behalf in this regard.