The very high profile recent court battles between Hollywood actor Johnny Depp and his former partner Amber Heard have got the world talking. And this is a good thing – we need domestic violence to come out from behind closed doors.
Whether or not you agree with the very polarising outcome of the Depp vs Heard defamation trial, it has done the world a great service by bringing domestic violence further out into the open.
Because the trial was streamed live on several platforms and has been heavily reported in the media, it showed all of us just how complex and messy domestic violence allegations can be. Wrongdoing is not always clear cut either.
Victims though, should never be intimidated to seek help, to get out of dangerous circumstances, or to take their perpetrators to court.
Where to find help for domestic violence
If you have been, or are a victim of domestic violence, then there are a number of crisis organisations you can reach out to for help – the most well known in New South Wales are the RESPECT hotline – 1800 737 732 or the Domestic Violence Helpline – 1800 65 64 63.
If you are in immediate danger, then you need to contact the police, by calling triple zero – 000.
If police don’t file charges on your behalf or help you to set up an ‘Apprehended Violence Order’ (AVO), which they may not do without sufficient evidence, then seek professional legal advice, and find out your options.
Apprehended Domestic Violence Order
In New South Wales, there are two types of AVOs: Apprehended Domestic Violence Order or an Apprehended Personal Violence Order.
Anyone who has been the victim of physical assault, threats of physical harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment and has a reasonable fear to believe that this behaviour will continue can take out an AVO.
Orders can be tailored to the needs of the victim, but will typically basic include conditions such restrictions as:
- Not being allowed to reside at the family home
- Not permitted to contact the protected person/people except through the use of a lawyer, (and there may be special additional conditions that allow for contact with children)
- Distance limits – meaning that the person whom is served with the order cannot go to the protected person/s residence, work or school, for example.
- Not allowed to possess any firearms or prohibited weapons.
- Restrictions on contact if the person has been drinking or taking drugs.
- Other conditions.
Most experts agree that victims of domestic violence are the most vulnerable after they have sought intervention – meaning they have involved police or another form of support or legal assistance.
Financial assistance for domestic violence victims
Recently the New South Wales Government introduced a payment specifically for victims escaping violence. The payment entitles them to $5000 over a 12 week (3 month) period. The payment is split into $1500 in cash and the remainder is available in other financial support in the form of bill payment – which may be used for rental bonds, or school payments or other necessities. This payment is accessible through Uniting Care, and regrettably we can’t provide advice on your eligibility for these payments.
When they are out of immediate danger, victims of domestic violence can explore other financial assistance that may be available, for medical or dental treatment, improving home security, or cost of living expenses.
Victims seeking housing locally, can get help from Women Up North, which is a service for women, children and young people who have experienced domestic or family violence or abuse. The organisation is based in the Northern Rivers but works in all areas covering Grafton to Tweed Heads.
The Federal Government, along with State Governments around Australia are doing a lot in the areas of domestic violence, in order to support victims – providing financial assistance for individuals, to support victims, to provide specialist training to Magistrates to increase their knowledge and understanding of domestic and family violence.
Most recently, the Fair Work Commission introduced paid domestic violence leave for thousands of workers employed under industry awards. Many private companies offer it already.
Men are victims of Domestic Violence too
It’s also critical to remember that while women tend to be the majority of victims, men suffer from domestic violence too – and while the numbers are not as high as they are for women, men also need our compassion and our help to get themselves out of violent situations.
This post is informative only. It is not legal advice. If you have a specific legal matter you’d like to discuss, please contact us.
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