“Domestic violence” is a commonly misunderstood term which deals with an extremely important issue. Most people would assume that an offence involving domestic violence needs to involve physical violence (such as punching or kicking another person) or extreme emotional violence (such as constantly degrading that person through their words or actions). The legal definition however is much broader.
The definition itself can be found within the Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (QLD) which says that domestic violence is behaviour by a person to another person that:
- is physically or sexually abusive; or
- is emotionally or psychologically abusive; or
- is economically abusive; or
- is threatening; or
- is coercive; or
- in any other way controls or dominates the other person and causes the other person to fear for their safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.
A number of examples of domestic violence are then provided, as follows:
- causing personal injury to a person or threatening to do so;
- coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so;
- damaging a person’s property or threatening to do so;
- depriving a person of the person’s liberty or threatening to do so;
- threatening a person with the death or injury of the person, a child of the person, or someone else;
- threatening to commit suicide or self-harm so as to torment, intimidate or frighten the person to whom the behaviour is directed;
- causing or threatening to cause the death of, or injury to, an animal, whether or not the animal belongs to the person to the person to whom the behaviour is directed, so as to control, dominate or coerce the person;
- unauthorised surveillance of a person;
- unlawfully stalking a person.
As can be seen, there is a wide range of behaviours that could constitute domestic violence in Queensland far beyond the usual ideas most people have about domestic violence. This explains why so many people find themselves with Domestic Violence Orders being made against them even when that person did not think they were committing an act of domestic violence.
It should also be mentioned that there needs to be a ‘relevant relationship’ between the person who commits the act of domestic violence and the person to whom that act is directed. A relevant relationship is:
- an intimate personal relationship; or
- a family relationship; or
- an informal care relationship.
This definition of ‘relevant relationship’ expands the definition of domestic violence even further as it means that domestic violence can occur between a wide range of people and not just romantic partners.
The domestic violence laws can be lengthy and complex. If you are being charged with an offence relating to domestic violence, such as a breach of a domestic violence order, then contact the Harper Finch Lawyers team straight away for expert advice.