The application of an AVO or IPO should be done after careful consideration of the risks present at the time, the potential for violence or abuse to continue and the fears held by the victim. In many cases the victim will not share details of things that have happened, fearing repercussions, payback or acts of revenge.
In the event of a crisis where you fear you will be injured or killed call the Police.
The application can be done by the Police or the Person in Need of Protection and is designed as an intervention tool to STOP the abuse and from violence happening.
The application sets out the reasons why the protection order is needed and who it is to protect. It also outlines the incidents that may have lead to the application for protection and the conditions and restrictions placed on the behaviour of the respondent (defendant or perpetrator of abuse).
The AVO shifts the power base in a relationship, asking the respondent to adjust their communication, regulate their emotions and refrain from aggressive or anger outbursts.
It’s a document explaining the types of behaviour that won’t be tolerated. The issue with this system and the process is that the onus of breaching the conditions, are placed on the Person In Need Of Protection. Which means that whilst they may not have had the influence in that relationship before, they now have an alternative avenue to address conflict, abuse and control.
A common response to this shift is anger and resentment, sometimes revenge so victims will default to a pattern of soothing, softening and compensating to make things ok again. This is known as the Domestic Violence Cycle
An order is taken out when accompanying criminal charges are laid against the defendant along side bail conditions. Together they restrict and make any behaviour that amounts to stalking, harassment, intimidation and threats a criminal offence.
We call this the (S.H.I.T.) that goes on in a relationship that is toxic, abusive, controlling, and actions that instil fear.
When assessing the behaviour, the threshold for perpetrators is much lower that criminal offences, such as stalking, harassment, intimidation or threats and can be anything from refrain from approaching, contacting or engaging in behaviour that makes the person in need of protection feel scared.
Trauma has a very big impact on a person’s sense of safety. And safety for women and men is different because of the patriarchal beliefs. Men are more scared of men than women when it comes to physical violence and are less likely to report verbal abuse by a woman as it is unmanly and seen as weak to be insulted, offended, abused or threatened by a woman.
Before taking out a protection order it’s important to identify the facts from the feelings.
#Feelings Aren’t Facts
When a magistrate or registrar considers an application they look at the current situation and a range of restrictions or protective measures that would keep the applicant safe.
This may mean excluding the partner from the home. It may mean contact can only be made to make arrangement for the children or an agreement about living together but to not fight (they word it much more official, but basically arguments are off the table).
All relationships have natural conflict. When it escalates a pattern will start to emerge which is identified by certain behaviours, words or even looks. It is insidious and can be terrifying. Many are in denial as it never seems that bad and things return to normal. But at the expense of self worth or sleep, changed behaviour is the only apology you should be accepting.
Before heading to the courts or police, victims usually seek the advice of friends, family or a solicitor. Relationships are complex and complicated and the victim may have even engaged in some of the behaviour they are accusing their partner of as it is a dynamic of the relationship that has been learnt in order to communicate needs and wants.
Victims have doubts of being believed due to the intimate nature of the abuse and the lack of witnesses.
Just know that when preparing for an application, it is based on evidence and past experiences, knowledge of behavioural responses witnessed or threatened.
Finally the application will not resolve your conflict, stop the abuse or prevent violence from happening. Your safety is your responsibility and the application is a formal process by which the behaviour and dysfunction of the relationship is being assessed.
Find out how to prepare your own application here or get in touch with a legal practitioner. In the event your matter is a crisis, and you fear being injured or killed call the Police 000.