For a long time, there was a belief that situations that arose within the family were solely a private matter. Women were treated as possessions of men and the law did not legally recognise the rape of a wife by her husband. In recent times, society’s attitudes towards domestic violence have changed considerably. Once, the only avenue that existed for victims of domestic violence was through criminal law. Today, all states of Australia have enacted various forms of domestic violence legislation to deal with this growing problem within our communities. The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) provides a broader and more contemporary definition of what constitutes domestic and family violence. The legal definition of domestic violence is outlined in Section 8, subsection 1, of the act as “behaviour by a person (the first person) towards another person (the second person) with whom the person is in a relevant relationship that is physically, sexually, emotionally, psychologically, economically or socially abusive, or is threatening or coercive OR in any other way controls or dominates the second person to fear for the second person’s safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.” To comprehend exactly what constitutes domestic violence, it is important to understand what each part of the definition means. The types of “relevant relationships” covered by the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act are intimate personal relationships, family relationships and informal care relationships. Intimate personal relationships include spousal, engagement and couple relationships. Family relationships are defined within the act as between two people, one of whom is or was a relative of the other and informal care relationships exist when one person is dependent on another for daily living assistance. Dosen (et. al. 2013) defines physical abuse as pushing, grabbing, slapping and kicking; sexual abuse as sexual assault and/or sexual acts carried out against a person’s will; psychological abuse as yelling, swearing, criticising a person’s personality or looks; economic (financial) abuse as controlling all money in the household and social abuse as controlling who a person sees or speaks to (Anthony Dosen, 2013). In Section 8, subsection 5, of the act coercive behaviour means to compel or force a person to do, or refrain from doing, something which they would otherwise not normally do. In short, the elements of domestic violence are:
Within a domestic relationship
By the first person to the second person
That is to the second person’s detriment
The reason the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act was put into place was so that the courts would know what constituted domestic violence when it was used as a defence for crimes such as murder and manslaughter (Anthony Dosen, 2013). The Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act (2012) offers protection to victims of domestic violence through the application of a domestic violence order, or DVO, by the courts. A domestic violence order is a civil order made by a court that imposes conditions to protect a person from future domestic violence (Queensland Government, 2013). A DVO can protect the aggrieved (victim), relatives and associates of the aggrieved and children of the aggrieved who are named in the order; but it does not necessarily prevent the respondent (offender) from contacting or having access to those named in the order. A domestic violence order should not be confused with a restraining order. To protect the aggrieved, a domestic violence order requires the respondent to be of good behaviour and to refrain from committing acts of domestic violence, procuring someone else to commit the violence, or exposing children of the aggrieved to domestic violence. The respondent must also comply with any other conditions that a court considers necessary and desirable. These conditions can include prohibiting behaviour that would...
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