There has been an enormous amount of publicity recently on the issue of domestic violence. Domestic violence can have serious impacts on people enduring it. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, but statistics demonstrate that domestic violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men against women with whom they are in an intimate relationship. It is also common for children of that relationship to be exposed to domestic violence.

As we have recently witnessed the consequences of not reporting domestic violence can be fatal. This month our newsletter will highlight what constitutes domestic violence and what you should do if you are a victim or a witness.

In an attempt to address the insidious nature of domestic violence the Queensland Government amended the domestic violence legislation in 2012. The legislation seeks to reduce and ultimately prevent domestic violence, provide adequate protection for victims of domestic violence and ensure people who commit acts of domestic violence are held accountable for their actions.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence

Domestic violence as it is defined in the legislation encompasses a broad range of behaviours. The most well known form of domestic violence is assault - where one person touches, or threatens to touch another without their consent.

Domestic violence also includes damage to property; emotional and psychological abuse (including threats of self harm if you "leave him"); coercing someone to engage in a sexual activity; economic abuse (e.g. denying a person financial independence, or threatening to withhold child support); stalking/conducting unauthorised surveillance of a person; or any other behaviour which controls or dominates another person causing that person to fear for their safety or wellbeing.

Affirmative Action

All acts of domestic violence should be reported to the Queensland Police. That also applies to witnesses of domestic violence. It is not acceptable to adopt the "it's none of my business" mentality. The Queensland Police receive specific training in identifying acts of domestic violence and have the power to hold a person in custody until appropriate protection for the victim can be put in place.

The common thread in domestic violence matters is power and control. One person is attempting to exert power or control over another, either physically or emotionally. An important step in preventing further acts of domestic violence is wrestling back that power and control. A simple way of achieving that is by not responding to that text message - don't fuel the fire.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, or have been accused of committing acts of domestic violence we encourage you to seek legal representation. Our Family Lawyers are experienced in matters of domestic violence.

We also encourage you to make contact with the Domestic Violence Prevention Centre, which has been operating on the Gold Coast since 1992 and offers counselling to victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. In all other respects enjoy your Christmas holidays.

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