Over the last 12 months, the Laws around Domestic and Family violence have been reviewed and changed in a number of areas.
In June of 2016, state legislation was changed to allow for a finding of domestic violence or a fear of domestic violence to exist in circumstances where the victim does not hold a fear of physical harm.
Federal Attorney-General George Brandis also commissioned the National Domestic and Family Violence Bench Book in mid-2016. This is a resource available to Local Court Magistrates, Judges in Family Courts and available to the public online.
There are now multiple categories of family violence, and as you will see below, a physical element is not required. The recognised types of Domestic and Family Violence are as follows:
- Physical violence and harm
- Sexual and reproductive abuse
- Economic abuse
- Emotional and psychological abuse
- Cultural and spiritual abuse
- Following, harassing and monitoring
- Social abuse
- Exposing children to domestic and family violence
- Damaging property
- Animal abuse
- Systems abuse
- Forced marriage
A well-recognised element in all types of Domestic and Family Violence is a display of coercive and controlling behaviour by one party against the other. Such behaviour can be subtle and often occurs completely in private.
Emphasis on evidence of the violence in the form of third party reports or medical reports is decreasing. A Victim does not have to have reported every incident to police and their GP for a finding to be made that domestic violence has existed in a relationship.
There are also changes occurring in the adversarial process involving self-represented litigants. Judges and Magistrates are able to use a range of circumstances to assist victims in the process of cross-examination. Should an alleged victim be forced into a situation where they are to be cross-examined by an alleged perpetrator of Domestic and Family Violence, a safety plan can be put in place and security can be present in the Court room for the duration. The Handbook recommends that a judicial officer take into account the victim’s individual vulnerabilities and experience of domestic and family violence.
It is essential that you have a lawyer in your corner who you are comfortable and open with and who is made aware of all of the concerns you hold so that as your advocate they are able to assist you in avoiding having to re-traumatise yourself through the Court process.
Want to find out more or discuss your current situation? Get in touch with us today.