By AMY STOCKWELL
This week, we heard the news that Modern Family, Sarah Hyland, had suffered serious violence at the hands of her ex-partner and needed to take out a restraining order against him.
Applying for similar orders in Australia can be a confronting process – especially at a time when you are fearing for your own safety and the safety of your children.
Each Australian state has its own laws relating to obtaining these orders – and each state gives them a different name. In Victoria they are called ‘Intervention Orders; in Queensland they are called ‘Domestic Violence Protection Orders’; in NSW they are called ‘Apprehended Violence Orders’.
The names are different but the processes are similar. Here we’re calling it a domestic violence order (check out the links at the end of this article for the details of your own state).
While this is information you hope you’ll never need to know, it’s always best to be informed.
What sort of behaviour can be the subject of a domestic violence order?
Domestic or family violence might include:
– psychological or emotional abuse
– physical abuse
– sexual abuse
– financial restrictions or control
– obsessive or jealous behaviour
The Queensland Legal Aid website has a helpful list of examples of what might constitute domestic and family violence, from harrassing text messages to threatening to disclose your sexual orientation without your consent.
I’ve experienced domestic violence or I’m in fear of it: what are some of my legal options?
If you are experiencing violence in a relationship you can:
– apply for a domestic violence order to help stop the violence
– apply for an urgent temporary protection order
– ask the police to press charges against the person being violent.
What does a domestic violence prevention order do?
A domestic violence order limits the behaviour of the person who is being violent towards you. They must be well-behaved towards you and anyone else named in the order. The court might include other requirements like the violent person must leave your house or not come anywhere near your home or work. Once an order has been made, it is illegal for them to breach the order and you should call the police. There may be other terms, for example, in Queensland, the violent person can’t own a weapon or have a weapons licence (their licence is automatically revoked).
Who can apply for an order?
You can apply for a domestic violence order if you are experiencing violence in a relationship. Relationships might include:
– an intimate personal relationship
– a family relationship
– an informal care relationship (where one person is dependent on the other person for help in an activity of daily living like dressing and cooking for them)
– in the case of an Aboriginal person or a Torres Strait Islander, an extended family or kin (according to the Indigenous kinship system of the person’s culture).
If you are afraid of a person who you are not in a relationship with – say a violent neighbour, co-worker or former friend who has threatened you – you may be able to apply for an apprehended violence order. The details are similar to the process for a domestic violence order (but not always – check for your state).