My partner makes me fear for my safety, what should I do?

Family Violence can affect any person, at any time during their lifetime.  It does not discriminate against geographical location, socio-economic circumstances, gender, culture, age or religion.  Statistically, 1 in 3 Australian women will experience Family Violence at some point in their lives.

Family Violence is not merely physical violence towards someone.  Family Violence includes behaviour by a person towards a family member if that behaviour:

  1. Is physically or sexually abusive; or
  2. Is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
  3. Is economically abusive; or
  4. Is threatening; or
  5. Is coercive; or
  6. In any other way controls or dominates the family member and causes that family member to feel fear for the safety or wellbeing of that family member or another person.

In addition to the above, any behaviour by a person that causes a child to hear or witness, or otherwise be exposed to any of the above behaviour, also constitutes Family Violence.  The above behaviours also apply to pets within the home and threats to harm them.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are concerned about your safety or the safety of another person and you fear you are in immediate danger you should call 000.  If the police hold a concern for your welfare, they may make an Application for an Intervention Order on your behalf.   The police have an obligation to apply for an Intervention Order on your behalf if they believe that you or your children are at risk of Family Violence.  The Police in certain circumstances may make an Application for an Intervention Order for your or any other person’s protection if they hold serious concerns for your welfare and safety.  Alternatively, you may contact your local Magistrates Court and make an Application for an Intervention Order.

You may apply online for an Intervention Order if you make an application to the following Courts: Ringwood, Sunshine, Werribee, Warrnambool, Hamilton or Portland.  If you do not fall within these catchment areas you will need to contact your local Magistrates’ Court to make an Application, or alternatively attend the Court in person and make an Application for an Intervention Order.

Your Application will need to disclose the concerns you have for yours and/or your children’s safety as well as the events which have previously occurred which have caused you to be fearful.  You should provide as much detail as possible on the Application, or to the Registrar or Family Violence Case Worker in the Court.

Once you have completed the Application it is likely you will go before a Magistrate to explain your concerns.  This may happen immediately upon completing your Application or it may be within a matter of weeks, depending on the urgency and risk.    An Interim Intervention Order will be made if the Magistrate holds concerns for your safety.  At Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers, we can assist you with completing the Application for an Intervention Order.

The Respondent (your former partner) will be served with a copy of the Interim Intervention Order by police.  The Order will contain a further Court date, where you may benefit from being represented by Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers to ensure the most beneficial result is obtained for you.  At Court, your former partner can elect to do one of the following:

  1. Consent to the Order;
  2. Consent to the Order without admitting any wrongdoing by them;
  3. Not agree to the Order; and
  4. Do nothing.

If your former partner consents to the Intervention Order, with or without admitting to any wrongdoing, the Intervention Order will be granted usually for a period of 12 months to 2 years.

If your former partner does not agree to the Order, you will have a further Court date where a Magistrate will hear evidence from you and your former partner.  At this hearing we strongly advise that you seek representation from Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers as you will be required to give evidence.

Our office can assist you with the preparation of any documents or evidence required and brief a barrister where necessary to ensure the Court is able to determine your matter based on relevant and important evidence.  As the Applicant, you will not be subject to cross examination by your former partner.  You will however, have a chance to respond to any accusations made by your former partner.

At Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers, we have experience in matters which involve Family Violence and are sensitive to your unique circumstance.  We are able to tailor our approach to ensure we represent your best interests, depending on your circumstances.  We are able to assist you with applying for an Intervention Order and in any other family law matters involving Family Violence.

Caroline Counsel has been heavily involved in the Family Violence sector in Victoria.  Caroline has chaired the Family Violence portfolio for the Law Institute and wrote a submission to the Royal Commission into Family Violence.  She was also heavily involved in the Family Violence Taskforce which was developed to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission.  In addition to Caroline’s extensive experience, all of our lawyers have completed family violence training.

If you find yourself in a situation where you require assistance, please contact our office on 9320 3900 or [email protected]If you are in danger and concerned for your welfare or the welfare of another person please contact 000.

The information in this blog does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by you. If you require advice specific to your situation you must contact Caroline Counsel Family Lawyers for legal advice.  The contents of this blog are relevant as at 19 January 2018.  We recommend you obtain specific advice relevant to you and your family’s situation.

By Sarah Damon and Caroline Counsel

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