Legal Guide

Domestic Violence, Coercive Control & How To Best Protect Yourself

Domestic Violence is a much bigger issue in Australia than many people would expect. In many cases, victims don’t realise the dangerous situation they are in and when they do, it is often too late. Speaking up about experiencing domestic violence or an abusive relationship is hard for a victim as many emotions are involved and opening up about what is going on often causes a feeling of shame. However, in order to protect yourself and find a way out of the situation, it is absolutely necessary to speak up and seek help. This article describes different patterns and forms of domestic violence and highlights legal regulations in Australia.

What Forms of Domestic Violence Are There?

Coercive control is a form of non-physical domestic violence that includes behaviours such as controlling or limiting access to money, controlling, or limiting what someone wears, tracking a person’s location, and controlling whom someone sees or where they go. It is a repeated pattern of domination and intimidation. The psychological damage inflicted by coercive control often has effects lasting much longer than physical abuse and according to research in Britain, is more highly correlated with intimate partner homicide than physical abuse.

Any warning signs of such behaviour should be reported immediately as it can have serious consequences. Many people hesitate to report their partner out of love or because they are scared to do so. It is important to understand that there is help out there and you are never alone in such a situation.

On the other side, there is physical domestic violence. In many cases physical domestic violence is a lot easier to identify than non-physical violence. This can range from small physical harm to sexual assault and should be taken seriously in any case. Often it is repetitive behaviour and victims try to hide their injuries from family members and friends. It is common for the assaulter to feel remorse and apologise to the victim which in turn makes the victim feel powerful for a little while. Until it happens again.

Current Legislation in Australia

Tasmania is the only Australian state which has legislation directly addressing coercive and controlling behaviours. Coercive control has not yet been criminalized in Queensland, the only constraint against coercive or controlling behaviour is a potential breach of a domestic violence order if there is one in place.

On 17 February 2021, the Palaszczuk Government announced that they would be appointing an independent task force to consult on coercive control legislation. This legislation would aim to make coercive or controlling behaviour a crime, regardless of whether a Domestic Violence Protection Order is in place or not. It is a fact that non-physical violence should be taken as seriously as physical violence as it can cause a great amount of mental damage to the victim.

Until any legislation takes effect to criminalize coercive control, the only legal protection that can be offered against this behaviour is a Domestic Violence Protection Order. In 2020, 16,249 Domestic Violence Protection Orders were applied across Queensland. Domestic Violence Protection Orders can be applied for on your behalf by the Police, alternatively, private applications can be made by yourself personally.

Hiring a Family Lawyer

No matter what your situation is, hiring a family lawyer and seeking professional help will make the situation a lot easier for you. Specialists like Madsen Law can help protect you by pursuing a private application on your behalf. If you need legal advice or assistance with a Domestic Violence Order or Application, it is absolutely necessary to get in touch with a family lawyer that is looking after your needs.


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