When being at home may not be the safest place …
As Australia and the world are working tirelessly towards stopping the spread of the Coronavirus by imposing several restrictions on the movements of citizens, those restrictions together with social isolation and economic pressure create a petri dish for an increase in domestic and family violence.
It has been reported that Google searches on domestic violence have surged by up to 75 percent since the first recorded Coronavirus case. In these difficult times it is important to raise awareness about domestic violence and the support available for victims.
If you are feeling unsafe at home, there is help available for you – from police, counsellors and lawyers.
What is domestic violence and family violence?
Domestic and family violence is an abusive behaviour in which one person seeks to control and coerce another person in a family or domestic relationship.
It can take many forms and can include:
- Sexual violence;
- Psychological violence including intimidation, gaslighting, threatening, verbal abuse;
- Coercive and controlling behaviour;
- Social violence such as controlling or limiting social activities, isolating a partner from family or friends;
- Financial and economic abuse;
- Abuse based on spiritual views.
What relationships are considered “domestic”?
- Intimate relationships: husband and wife, de facto partners, boyfriend and girlfriend, same sex relationships;
- Family relationships: older parents and their children, other family members including step-parents; and
- Other relationships: such as person with a disability and their carer.
How can you be protected – what is an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order?
An Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) is an order made by the Court against a person (referred as defendant) in order to protect you from future abuse. An ADVO can be adapted to your particular circumstances to provide you with the best possible protection from violence and also extends to other persons with whom you have a domestic relationship, such as your children or a new partner. If a defendant disobeys the orders in an ADVO it can lead to criminal charges.
How can I apply for an ADVO?
- Police can apply for an ADVO on your behalf. Many police stations have designated Domestic Violence Liaison Officers who can assist you with the application;
- A lawyer can apply for an ADVO on your behalf; and
- You can also make an application at your local court.
What if you need immediate protection?
If you need immediate protection the police can apply for a provisional or interim ADVO for your protection which will last until it is revoked or until an interim or final order is made.
Importance of safety planning
If you are experiencing domestic violence or family violence it is crucial that you have a safety plan in place. It is helpful to seek help from a professional such as a counsellor in preparing your safety plan. Safety planning is about taking control over your life and taking proactive steps towards living life without fearing for your and your children’s safety.
Some things to consider when preparing your safety plan
- Identify a ‘safe room’ in your home where you can wait for the arrival of the police. If the room cannot be locked, consider installing a lock to make it more secure.
- The most dangerous rooms at your home are the rooms where the person who is violent has access to weapons such as the kitchen or the bathroom. If you sense that your partner could become violent remove yourself from the ‘dangerous areas’.
- Prepare an escape plan and an ‘escape bag’ with a few essential belongings and the most important documents and hide it in a safe place.
- Have a second phone (if possible) hidden and fully charged and ensure that your safe room has sufficient phone coverage.
- Teach your children how to call the police and how to give their full name and address.
- Have a ‘code word’ you can use on the phone without attracting attention and let your friends and family know that the word means that you are feeling unsafe.
- Keep your friends and family informed about your circumstances.
Domestic Violence and Family Violence Services
For more help and support please visit:
- Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia.
- Domestic Violence Line (Ph 1800 656 463).
- No to Violence.
- Relationships Australia.
- Women’s Legal Services NSW.
- LawAccess NSW.
- Legal Aid.
We understand that it takes courage to seek help from family and domestic violence and it can be very difficult. If you require assistance, please contact Dorter Family Lawyers and Mediators, family lawyers based in North Sydney and McMahons Point, on (02) 9929 8840 or email@example.com for a confidential discussion.
This post is an overview only and should not be considered as legal advice. If there are any matters that you would like us to advise you on, then please contact us.