Never before have we been on the precipice of such a likely exponential rise in the incidence of domestic violence.
Frightening as that may be, in the context of an already unacceptable and widespread incidence of family violence in our community, it presents unimaginable risks and consequences to families and children.
To address this critical challenge, it is firstly important to really understand what domestic and family violence is. Being able to detect the many forms that family violence takes will help in the battle to quell this similarly disastrous spread.
In Australia, examples of family violence include:
- Unlawfully depriving a family member of their freedom;
- Preventing a family member from making or keeping connections;
- Withholding financial support to a family member particularly from those that are dependents;
- Denying a family member financial autonomy; and
- Repeated derogatory taunts.
The current rules under which we are now required to live (and possibly for some time to come) enables and potentially fuels many forms of family violence. As social connectedness is a fertile ground for Coronavirus, physical distancing and “stay at home” measures are an equally fertile ground for family violence.
In addition to the many recently announced initiatives by the Government to provide greater access to the usual domestic and family violence supports, the police and the legal system remain available to act and protect those requiring help and assistance.
Family violence is difficult to mediate however alternate dispute resolution processes including mediation and arbitration have quickly “flexed up” to be available to community members in this time of real need.
Be assured that no matter what any one of you may be facing in your own home whilst observing the social distancing and “stay at home if you can” rules, there are resources available to swiftly protect your safety.
Domestic violence is not restricted to a raised hand or a raised voice. The current tv footage used in communicating issues pertaining to domestic violence is a blunt and incomplete message. True it may get your attention but much more work will be required over a very long time to keep us all safe.
Court orders can be made:
- Removing perpetrators of family violence from their homes;
- Requiring parties to pay spousal support to the other; and
- Ensuring that risks to children in “spend time with” arrangements are sufficiently mitigated.
For those of you acutely navigating this awful path, use every opportunity you can to stay visible and connected. Service providers of extra-curricular activities are quickly getting on board and running online classes.
Most schools will, at least for the start of Term 2, be online. Tap into those “public domains”. If you are employed, ask your boss to quickly connect you by Zoom, Skype or other e-meeting platforms.
For others – remember families and children not so lucky and take the time to reach out. It is not as intrusive nor as inconvenient as “popping in” and may make a profound different to others.
Stay safe. If you feel this may help another, please share this. We will continue to share any helpful advice that we feel may assist you at this time.
Lisa Wagner is an Accredited Family Law Specialist on Sydney’s North Shore specialising in complex property matters and children’s work. If you have a Family Law enquiry, please contact us on (02) 9437 0010 or firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your matter in complete confidence. We have a team of experienced and caring professional family lawyers available to help you in this difficult time.