Domestic violence is an event that can scar the victim for life. Many victims are hesitant about speaking up about their abuse despite a significant cultural and legal shift that has attempted to create an inclusive discussion space. The Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 defines domestic violence as an offence committed by a person against another person with whom the perpetrator has a domestic relationship. Perpetrators of a majority of domestic violence acts are men who abuse women, transwomen, and children. The victims must be aware of the various laws and rights that protect them against domestic violence. A domestic abuse lawyer can help the victim realize their rights in their struggle. Here are a few pointers that elaborate on the laws that offer protection to a domestic violence victim.
Forms of domestic violence
Domestic abuse does not simply refer to physical violence. There are several forms of abuse that are subtler yet leave a permanent scar on the victim. Some examples of intimate partner violence include stalking, financial control, coercing to engage in unconsented sexual acts, breaking restraining orders, and intimidation with intent to harm. During such situations, police will at once rescue the victim by removing the abuser from the spot.
Domestic Violence Order (DVO)
DVO is a protection order that a court issues to the perpetrator. It is a set of rules that the respondent (abuser) needs to accept and obey. By issuing such an order, the court ensures the safety of the victims and other involved parties, like children and minors. A DVO may also contain instructions to the respondent that prohibit them from going within a specific distance of the victim's residence or a minor's educational institution or daycare. Similarly, the DVO also asserts that the respondent cannot be intoxicated within a specific distance of the accuser. When the respondent defies any of the terms listed in the DVO, the court considers it a criminal offence. It reserves the right to have them arrested. It also registers as a criminal record.
Categories of DVOs
A court is authorized to issue two kinds of DVOs when an abused party approaches it. The first type is known as a Protection Order. It is applicable for five years and can be extended or cancelled according to the discretion of the magistrate who issues the order. A Temporary Protection Order is another type that offers interim protection to the victim. It is applicable for a shorter period than the Protection Order. Until the case proceeds to the Final Hearing stage in the court, the police or the court may choose to issue a Temporary DVO. It renders the victim eligible to claim protection from the respondent for a few months.
Role of an advocate
It is wisest for a victim of domestic abuse to seek the help of a certified domestic abuse lawyer since it drastically improves the chances of winning a lawsuit. In legal battles, women and minors are often underrepresented parties. Without the counsel of an advocate, an abuser with a behavioural pattern of manipulation may take advantage of the victim. An advocate can advise on the strength of the victim's DVO application and can lead one in the best direction.
Every year, approximately twenty thousand Australian women file for DVO against their intimate partner. But the number of cases that go unfilled is over twice the number reported. These studies point towards the disquieting fact that victims are hesitant to fight domestic violence with legal aid. Gaslighting is a tactic that abusers employ to convince the victim that their feelings are immaterial, thereby denying them the clarity of the violence inflicted. The responsibility of breaking this unnerving silence lies with society, law, and the government.