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What is "Domestic Violence"?

Article written by Colin Abernethy

Pursuant to the Domestic Violence Act 1995 “domestic violence” means any “violence” against a person by any other person with whom that person is, or has been, in a domestic relationship.

“Violence” means:

(a) Physical abuse (e.g. punching, kicking, pushing, holding down); (b) Sexual abuse (e.g. rape); (c) Psychological abuse which includes, but is not limited to: (i) Intimidation; (ii) Harassment; (iii) Damage to property; (iv) Threats of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or psychological abuse; (v) In relation to a child, abuse of the kind set out below.

A person psychologically abuses a child if that person:

(a) Causes or allows the child to see or hear the physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of a person with whom the child has a domestic relationship; (b) Puts the child or allows the child to be put, at real risk of seeing or hearing that abuse occurring; - but the person who suffers the abuse is not regarded as having caused or allowed the child to see or hear the abuse, or as the case may be, as having put the child, or allowed the child to be put, at risk of seeing or hearing the abuse.

A single act may amount to abuse. A number of acts that form part of a pattern of behavior may amount to abuse, even though some or all of those acts, when viewed in isolation, may appear to be minor or trivial. Behavior may be psychological abuse including such behavior which does not involve actual or threatened physical or sexual abuse.

If you are the victim of domestic violence, please contact a family lawyer immediately. If you are in immediate danger, please contact the Police. There are a number of legal options available to victims of domestic violence including a Protection Order (if such an Order is necessary for the victim’s protection) and a Police Safety Order (from 1 July 2010).


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