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(AUSTRALIA) Domestic Violence Report: ‘Bogus’ domestic violence orders on the rise as violent partners seek to silence survivors ‘out of spite’ #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.22: Mother-of-three Jessica* cried as she recalled years of broken bones, bruises and blood pouring from her face at the hands of her husband: When she one day worked up the courage to fight back, landing a punch of her own, she ended up in court with a domestic violence order (DVO) out against her: The 30-year-old said she was trying to protect herself during what was yet another violent attack in her regional Queensland home: It was definitely out of spite,” Jessica said, recalling the order her partner took out against her after she had taken one out against him.

Kindness & LoveXโค๏ธ says and God made man in his own image Male & Female to become a perfect union with the creator Amen

So they will tell one story of what has happened and they [police] will get a different story from the woman,” Ms Baird said: Sharp rise in Queensland DV caseloadThe latest statistics reveal police are investigating more than 400 domestic violence cases a day across Queensland, but researcher Heather Nancarrow warns making coercive control as a criminal offence is no quick fix.

Posted Yesterday at 11:29pm

Silhouette of domestic violence survivor Jessica
Domestic violence surivivor Jessica says her ex-partner took a cross-application protection order out against her “out of spite”.(ABC News: Angel Parsons)

He says he didn’t feel safe around me and scared but that is not the case at all.” A single mother of three young children, Jessica said she did not have the money to “get lawyered up”, so she instead pleaded guilty: She has since found herself on a five-year good behaviour order, which is due to end in 2023.

‘Bogus’ DVOs on the rise

A report by Queensland’s Domestic Violence Death Review and Advisory Board found the practice of “bogus” cross-application DVOs being taken out against women who had used violence as a means of self-defence was on the rise.

The review, chaired by state coroner Terry Ryan, found the use of malicious orders was a tactic more commonly used against women and those in violent same-sex relationships. 

The 2016-17 Annual Report also found in about 44 per cent of all cases of female deaths, the woman had been identified as a respondent to a domestic and family violence (DFV) protection order on at least one occasion.

Among the Indigenous population, nearly all DFV-related deaths found the person who had died was recorded as both the respondent and aggrieved before their death.

Silhouette of a woman.
Lisa* says her ex-partner took an order out against her to thwart her bid for custody over their children.(ABC News: Angel Parsons)

Mum of three Lisa* also found herself slapped with a protection order after enduring six years of “physical, emotional, financial and sex abuse” at the hands of her violent ex-partner.

Lisa said he would arrive at her home unannounced and threaten to take the children from school, saying “I will never see them again”.

Lisa said her then-partner took the order out against her in an attempt to keep “control” and paint her behaviour in a bad light amid a legal bid for custody over their children.

She said protection orders were too easily issued.

“[I knew] if I was to breach the protection order it would go onto my criminal record,” she said.

“It would affect my employment and future jobs and affect child-related custody procedures.”

Lisa's clasped hands.
Lisa says domestic violence protection orders are too easily issued.(ABC News: Angel Parsons)

A tactic used to silence and intimidate 

Lawyer Julie Sarkozi from Women’s Legal Service Queensland said the legal service had seen a 50 per cent increase in DV-related calls to the centre during the last year and agreed vengeful cross-applications were on the rise.

“It is common for a perpetrator to ring police and say, ‘She has just attacked me’,” Ms Sarkozi said.

“Police turn up, she is really hysterical, he has a scratch, he is really well put together, he is saying, ‘She has just really lost it, she has attacked me’.

“And it ends with police taking out a DV order against her, when she is actually not the person who is perpetrating the DV, but defending herself.”

Julie in an office.
Julie Sarkozi with the Women’s Legal Service says vengeful cross-applications are “very damaging”.(ABC News: Lexy Hamilton-Smith)

Ms Sarkozi said malicious cross-applications were a very common tactic used by respondents to control, intimidate or silence their victims of domestic violence.

“One of our clients actually said her domestic violence against her partner, was taking out a domestic violence order against him, that he was intimated and frightened because she’d taken out the DV order,” she said.

“But it is often when the victim is trying to defend themselves.

“Or he thinks I can use it to threaten her, I can use it to get her to come to court, I can use it perhaps as a strategic advantage in family law proceedings.

“Even though it’s not a criminal conviction or a criminal matter to have one against you, it still requires attending court โ€” it requires a level of manageability that most DV women do not have.

“They are often in refuge, often so frightened of running into the perpetrator that they are more inclined to agree without admissions to an order being sought against them.”

Fears they ‘won’t be believed’

The review’s deputy chair Kathleen Baird said some perpetrators were very skilled at “image management”.

“Police then have to respond to what they see in front of them.”

She said cross-applications had a detrimental impact on women as many will not seek help again because “they just feel they will not be believed”.

Professor Baird said trawling through police reports into DV deaths was “heart-wrenching but important work”.

“It is heartbreaking when we look at the lives that are lost and the fallout for families,” she said.

“But I feel we do have to keep learning from these cases and we have to keep hearing the voices of those lives we have lost so that we can keep trying to improve practice.”

She said past murders and suicides related to domestic and family violence also gave frontline police the chance to improve their training to ensure they respond appropriately. 

Heather in a dimly lit room.
ANROWS chief executive Heather Nancarrow says police need to look at patterns of coercive control when attending callouts.(ABC News: Lexy Hamilton-Smith)

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) has been working with Queensland police to improve its response after research found many officers had difficulty identifying “the person most in need of protection” during a DV call out.

ANROWS chief executive Heather Nancarrow said when the police arrive on a scene, they are faced with a scenario that can be difficult to unpack.

“[Often] they are looking at the person most in need of protection as the one who is most injured,” Dr Nancarrow said.

“But what they need to do is … look [to see] if there is a pattern of coercive control.

“So we are asking police to …look at past behaviour rather than punishing a woman for the incident before them today.”

Dr Nancarrow said she was aware of lawyers advising clients to seek a cross-application as a strategy to “disempower the victim’s application and to add confusion”.

“It is terrible, terrible, because it is almost reinforcing what perpetrators have told [victims], that ‘no-one is going to help you, I have got power over you, you are isolated.”

‘We can’t police our way out of this alone’

Deputy Police Commissioner Brian Codd was the first to admit police needed to improve but said determining who the victim and perpetrator were, “is not as simple as people make out”.

As head of the newly-formed Domestic Family Violence and Vulnerable Persons Command, he said it was often the most junior and inexperienced officers “doing their best to try and make those judgements”.

“You can imagine how complicated that is, even for experts, and we are trying to get our frontline troops to be better informed on decisions they make.”

“We know perpetrators can employ tactics that will mask their own behaviour.

“It will often be that our police will attend a scenario after a call for help, perhaps by neighbours, to be met by a very welcoming perpetrator and a very silent victim.

“Learning more and more about the tactics and masking is a vital part of the education programs that we will are working on now.”

Police are called out to one DV incident every five minutes, amounting to about 40 per cent of a front line officer’s time.

Deputy Commissioner Codd said with mounting pressure to address problematic police responses to DV callouts, police were considering having specialist social workers accompany officers on callouts.

“The most dangerous place for violence, particularly for vulnerable people, is behind residential front doors, and that is something we’re not going to police our way out of alone,” he said.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

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