Although community awareness of domestic violence has improved, experts warn that domestic violence is increasing. Domestic violence is often hard to talk about and it affects many people: the victim, any children involved, witnesses, the abuser and family and friends of both. It is a horrific experience, and unfortunately, recent statistics have shown that victims may be at a higher risk of experiencing more violence throughout their lifetimes.
Why Domestic Violence Is Increasing
A recent case study involved questioning approximately 120,000 people about domestic violence and their experiences. Questions involved topics on sexual assault, family background and even questions about drug use. From these case studies, around 20,000 people were found to be at risk of increasing violence, with around 36% of people saying they had experienced domestic violence.
Just a simple google search on domestic violence brings up many results and cases, some of which are terrifying and incredibly graphic. Not only do these cases involve physical assault, but show elements of sexual abuse. One recent case involved a woman who had recently given birth. Her experience in labour was long and tiring, resulting in multiple tears. Her period after giving birth was long and heavy and her doctor recommended that she refrain from sex for six weeks.
Unfortunately, after coming home from the hospital, she was raped by her husband. The results of forced sex included having clots and the devastating emotional consequences of such a violation. She has since left her husband, but the physical and mental damage will remain permanent. Another case included a neighbour who could hear the angry shouts and thumps of violence occurring in the house next door, knowing after some time what those sounds meant. Although she rang the police, they only issued a warned but she still worries that her children may hear the sounds of the violence next door and assume it to be normal.
Domestic violence not only affects the victims involved, but can affect a larger number of people on the periphery of the violence. Statistics show that domestic violence is increasing and case studies are difficult to read, so what exactly is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is the act of violence by a person to another person or persons when they have a domestic and/or family relationship. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional and financial. In Queensland, the relationships that are considered domestic are those between partners, relatives (children, parents, etc) and even relationships that involve a person caring for another. Relationships between partners are those who are engaged, married or in a de-facto relationship. In Queensland, this includes both past and present partners.
Relatives can be anyone of relation, including aunts, uncles, in-laws and step-siblings and step-parents. Domestic violence can also exist in an informal care relationship. This area of law can be confusing but it mainly includes someone who is dependent on another person for care. Such things as preparing meals and relying on that person to clothe you help define a person who is under an informal care relationship.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, you can apply for a domestic violence order. These orders are put in place to help protect the victims and their family. Court orders to protect domestic violence victims come in two forms:
Protection order – An order made by a magistrate when they make a final decision.
Temporary protection order – An order made by a magistrate that only lasts for a short time.
Every domestic violence order has the standard condition that the respondent must be of good behaviour and must not commit acts of domestic violence. In addition to this the court can impose other conditions to help protect the aggrieved. Some of those extra conditions might include stopping the respondent from:
- approaching the aggrieved at home or their place of work
- staying in a home they used to share with the aggrieved (although the court may allow them to make a visit to collect their property)
- approaching the aggrieved’s relatives or friends (if they are named in the order)
- going to a child’s school or day care centre.
Under the Weapons Act 1990 a person may not keep a weapon or weapons license if a domestic violence order has been made against them. Generally a DVO now in Queensland can last for up to five years, after a recent change in law boosted the time from 2 years.
Domestic violence is a issue that affects many people. Despite increased awareness, research shows that domestic violence is increasing in our society. You may not wish to let anyone know about your case due to shame or embarrassment, but you should know that you aren’t alone. Seeking legal advice will assist you in best determining your choices and options, so that you aren’t forced to live in fear. Getting protection for yourself and your family is vitally important.
Speak to one of our friendly, compassionate family lawyers today to find out more about your options. We offer a free, 10-minute phone consultation. Contact us today!