Despite the great leaps in awareness through Government and Community initiatives, Domestic and Family Violence still remains one of the greatest challenges faced by Australian society.
The Queensland Government, through Legal Aid Queensland, recently established a program in which specifically trained Duty Lawyers attend Queensland Magistrates' Courts to provide free legal advice to those appearing in Court for Domestic and Family Violence matters. We are one of many firms whose lawyers participate in this program.
Over the last six months, our lawyers have seen may people who, despite the increase in knowledge generally of Domestic and Family Violence, have fallen for the "urban myths" relating to Domestic Violence and the Court proceedings they may be involved in.
So, with May being Domestic and Family Violence Awareness Month, we have put together a "Top 3 Urban Myths of Domestic and Family Violence" and where you can get help.
Urban Myth 1 - It is not really Domestic Violence if there was no physical acts or injuries.
This one is still around and is very wrong. In fact, most cases we deal with involve threats, verbal abuse or harassment, rather than actual physical abuse. We are also seeing a large number of instances of a person financially controlling the victim, or isolating them from their friends and families, and even more cases where they are threatening to commit suicide if their partner leaves them. All these things are in fact capable of being acts of Domestic Violence that might support a Court Order being made.
Urban Myth 2 - If there is a Court Order on my partner, they will not be able to see the kids.
Obviously, when there is Family Violence, children need to be protected from witnessing this or being actually involved. However, if you separate from your partner, it may be that you obtain a Court Order that will protect you and the children, but you still would like for the children to see their other parent.
It is possible for certain conditions of the Court Order, such as having no contact with the victim or not going to their home, to have exceptions applied that will allow the other party to communicate and spend time with the children. However, for this to occur, a written Agreement or Family Court Order with details on how and when the other party can communicate and spend time with the children, will need to be in place.
If the other party complies with the written Agreement/Family Court Order, then they may not have breached a Domestic Violence Court Order.
Urban Myth 3 - The Court will not give Orders to men who suffer Domestic Violence perpetrated against them by women.
Yes they do! It makes no difference the gender, age, nationality or sexual identity of the victim, but rather on the behaviour being relied on to ask for an Order. It is estimated that about 15% of all Domestic Violence applications are made by men against women however, the real figure of men being abused by women is likely much higher, due to men being too embarrassed to report incidents to police and Domestic Violence services.
Where to get help
We have worked closely with the Toowoomba Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Services and Legal Aid Queensland, together with Queensland Police and the Queensland Magistrates' Court, to assist any one who is suffering from Domestic or Family Violence, to access the Court process and obtain Protection Orders, if needed.
If you believe you could use our help, please contact us for confidential expert legal advice about your particular situation.