Family violence can take many forms, and the definition of family violence is broad. The types of family violence include;
- Physical abuse, including actual or threatened harm to you, to property, to children, or to animals. It may also take the form of the denial of basic needs such as food, water, shelter, or medical care, or of reckless endangerment such as careless driving with you or your children in the car. Damaging property or confiscating things that are important to you is also a form of abuse.
- Verbal abuse, including derogatory or demeaning remarks, harassment, threats, intimidation, or name calling. It may even include threats to harm the children, or themselves. This may take place in person or by electronic means.
- Psychological abuse. This includes comments and behaviours designed to undermine you and your confidence or challenge your reality. These behaviours could include:
- Repeated demeaning comments directed at you, or to others about you;
- Intimidation or sulking;
- Threats to harm you, others, or themselves;
Threats to withhold or actual withholding of basic resources such as transportation or finance; or,
- Threats to withhold or actual withholding of the children.
- Financial abuse, which may take the form of behaviours such as taking or controlling your money and access to cards and accounts, controlling your employment or income, forcing you to account for all of your expenses, or refusing to provide finances for basic needs and resources.
- Social abuse, such as controlling who you contact and spend time with and how that time is spent. This could be control of your communication devices or may include excessive contact or supervision while you are away from them. It may even be attempts to control what you wear or refusing to do chores or childcare in a manner that prevents you from socialising.
- Stalking and behaviour intended to harass, intimidate, and torment you are a form of abuse. This could be repeated unwanted contact by post, or electronic means, or by monitoring or signing into your social media accounts. It can also take the form of physically watching you or loitering near you, following you around, or installing tracking devices, listening devices, or cameras on your person, phone, or car.
- Sexual abuse, such as forcing you or pressuring you to participate in unwanted sexual activity or contact without your consent. This constitutes abuse even if you are married. You may also be subject to reproductive abuse, which takes the form of attempts to control your contraception, pregnancies, terminations, or how many children you have.
Family violence may impair your ability to freely negotiate with the other party, and thus you may be excused from engaging in family dispute resolution and mediation processes as required by the pre-action procedures, and as recommended throughout the family law process.
Family violence may also be taken into account during your family law proceedings. In financial matters, factors such as a party’s ability to freely negotiate and make agreements is of importance, as well as the impact of any family violence on their earning capacity both throughout the relationship and into the future.
Family violence is of great significance in parenting proceedings, as the Court seeks to prevent children from being exposed to or experiencing family violence. If a parent engages in family violence behaviours, and there is a risk that the child/ren will be exposed to or harmed by this family violence, then it may be considered that protecting the child/ren is of more importance than a meaningful relationship with that parent.
The Court may make orders to mitigate any harm, such as orders for supervision of a parent’s time with the child/ren, but it may also order that a child spend no time with the parent that is exposing the child to harm. They may order that the other parent have sole parental responsibility to make all long-term decisions for the child.