Domestic and family violence – It's not just
In recent years there has been increasing awareness about
domestic and family violence, and its prevalence within our
society. It's now recognised that domestic and family violence
goes beyond physical violence to encompass various types of
Although experienced by both men and women, women are more
likely to be the victims of violence then men. Domestic violence is
a common issue in marital separation however, ending a relationship
doesn't always stop the violence. In other situations the
breakdown of a relationship can be the trigger for one party to
The increasing awareness around domestic violence and numerous
matters citing allegations of family violence resulted in
significant changes being made to the Family Law Act in July 2012.
These changes significantly broadened the definition of
'abuse' and 'family violence' to reflect that
family violence encompasses:
Physical assault (including punching, hitting, kicking,
pushing, slapping, choking, or the use of weapons)
Sexual assault (being forced to have sex or participate in
sexual activities, either by watching or participating)
Emotional abuse (making you feel worthless, criticising your
personality, your looks, the way you dress, constantly putting you
down, threatening to hurt you, your children or your pets)
Verbal abuse (including yelling, shouting, name-calling and
swearing at you)
Social abuse (being stopped from seeing friends and family,
isolating you socially or geographically)
Damaging property such as furniture, the house or pets in order
to threaten or intimidate you
Financial abuse (taking control of the money, not giving you
enough money to survive on, forcing you to hand over your money,
not letting you have a say in how it is spent).
Prior to amendments "Family Violence" was defined by
the Family Law Act as "conduct, whether actual or threatened,
by a person towards, or towards the property of, a member of the
person's family that causes that or any other member of the
person's family reasonably to fear for, or reasonably to be
apprehensive about, his or her personal wellbeing or
The amended definition is more succinct, classifying family
violence as "violent, threatening or other behaviour by a
person that coerces or controls a member of the person's family
(the family member) or causes the family member to be
fearful," the definition then goes on to set out a list of
examples of what can include domestic violence and examples of
situations that may constitute a child being exposed to domestic
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Sect.117 can deal with false statements and knowingly making false allegations of violence could justify a costs order.
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