Domestic violence doesn't always look like we think it does.

In the past fortnight, two of Sydney’s “elite” have had apprehended violence orders (AVO) filed against them.

Anthony Bell is the head of one of the country’s biggest advisory and accounting firms. His clients include former Australian cricket team captain Michael Clark and co-host of the Today show Karl Stefanovic. He won the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race last year.

Now, Bell has been served with an AVO banning him from stalking, threatening and approaching his wife, television presenter Kelly Landry. He’s not allowed to go near her after drinking or taking illicit substances.

Anthony Bell and Kelly Landry. (Getty)

Then there's former spin bowler for the Australian cricket team, Stuart MacGill. He was known as having the best strike rate of any modern leg-spin bowler; also for his morals. In 2004, he refused to tour Zimbabwe with the Australian Cricket Team citing moral reasons. In 2011, he refused to endorse KFC - a "gold partner" of Cricket Australia — telling Crikey, "It’s just wrong in so many ways." 

MacGill, too, has been issued with an AVO against his girlfriend Julie Singleton. He must not approach Singleton unless through a lawyer, and he's not allowed within 100 metres of her home in Vaucluse, in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

Stuart MacGill. (Image: Facebook)

Perhaps these incidents are a sign of a deeper problem.

Domestic violence doesn't always look the way we picture it. Sometimes the horror is muted by the soft wool carpets and solid walls of harbourside mansions. The desperation is felt alongside millions of dollars and gifts in Tiffany-blue boxes. The danger is present away from flashing cameras and fancy cocktail evenings.


Last February, Tracy Howe, then the chief executive officer of the Council of Social Services NSW, referred to "golden handcuffs" when talking about domestic violence in affluent suburbs.

“There are real financial ramifications in the higher socioeconomic areas. They are wearing golden handcuffs, and the golden handcuffs can kill you," Howe told The Daily Telegraph.

Yes, statistics indicate domestic violence is more prevalent in rural and remote communities, or areas of low socioeconomic status. But that might be an issue with reportage.

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“If you put your hand up for the support that is offered to you and you have to move and go to a refuge, who wants to do that when your kids are at a private school in Rose Bay?" Howe said.

The allegations against Bell are that he pushed his wife and spoke loudly and embarrassed her in front of her friends. "I deny the allegations and will defend myself in court," he said in a letter to his clients. "I abhor all violence and I am faithful to my family. It is unimaginable to me that I could ever touch a woman in anger."

The allegations against MacGill relate to an incident that occurred in December, The Daily Mail reports. He is due to appear at the Waverly Court on Thursday.


We do not know what happened between Bell and Landry or MacGill and Singleton. But we are seeing situations like this more and more in the media.

The allegations of domestic violence against actor Johnny Depp.

Amber Heard and Johnny Depp. (Getty)

The allegations of sexual and physical violence against US president-elect Donald Trump by members of the public, and his ex wife Ivana Trump.

The AVO against the Deputy Mayor of Auburn in Sydney Salim Mehajer lodged by his wife, Aysha April Learmonth, in July last year.

Men who are powerful, rich, successful.

Couples who seemingly "have it all" - weddings that feature helicopters and sports cars like Mehajer's; houses with servants and private jets like Trump's; $13m harbour-side mansions with super yachts like Bell's.

Wives who may or may not be trapped within "golden handcuffs."

Financial abuse is the ugly, more silent cousin of domestic abuse.

Research conducted in a 2007 by Data Analysis Australia, found 59,402 women who had experienced violence by a current partner had separated from the partner and returned to the relationship. Half of these women had left once; 20 per cent had left twice; 14 per cent had left three times. The most common reason for returning to the relationship, except for concern for their children? Financial reasons.

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Kelly Landry has had a career in her own right, as a model and a presenter on the Channel Nine program Getaway.

Julie Singleton is a qualified lawyer. Before her marriage to MacGill she was married to Sydney entrepreneur John Singleton.

Perhaps that is why these women have spoken out, gone to the police and filed an AVO. These are women who can leave, who have the financial independence to do so.

But maybe they're the "lucky" ones. Maybe they're symbolic of other women - also in mansions with wide hallways dotted with paparazzi clippings - who are in danger, but who cannot leave because they cannot afford to do so.

Yes, they're not the type of women we think about when we think "financial hardship" but that is part of the problem. As Howe pointed out, such wealth can be deceptive and very, very dangerous.

In a country where one in four women have experienced physical or sexual violence at hands of an intimate partner, the victims could be anyone. Even the wives of millionaires, even the women who are photographed on red carpets and can see the Sydney Harbour Bridge from their sprawling, plush-carpeted staircases.

Let's not forget these women. They might be helpless, and in danger, but all-to-readily overlooked because we mistake their luxury for safety.