White Ribbon Day is on 19 November 2021 and it is an opportunity to look towards continuing to eliminate gendered violence in our community.
Domestic violence comes in many different forms be it physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal, social, economic and spiritual.
We have seen a significant increase in domestic violence in Australia in the past year following the restrictions of movement imposed by the COVID pandemic and higher levels of unemployment and the lack of housing.
To continue the fight against gendered violence, it is essentially that mechanisms are put in place to assist victims of violence to leave relationships safely.
It is without doubt that separation, parenting disputes and other similar matters we see in Family Law are some of the most difficulty and stressful times of a person’s life. If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may be concerned about your safety and overall unpreparedness to leave your relationship.
The following are helpful tips if you are considering to leave:
- Build your support network
• Talk to a friend or family member that you trust. They might be able to help you or even offer a friendly ear and listen to you. If you do not have someone to listen, speak to a specialised service such as 1800RESPECT or White Ribbon Australia and they can assist you with a plan to exit the relationship safely.
- Have a plan for your safety
• How are you going to keep you and potentially also your children safe, especially if you may need to leave in a hurry? Tell your support network about your safety plan.
• Think about creating a “safety bag” ready and packed. This could contain your clothes, legal documents such as birth certificates, passports, drivers’ licence etc, health/Medicare documents, money, bank cards, phone, charger, spare keys to your home or vehicles, medication and prescriptions you or your children may need.
- Be safe online
• Before you leave to protect your safety change your passwords on phones, computers, IPADS, laptops and if your partner knows your passwords to certain websites like social media platforms, banking, emails, mygov, ATO, change them.
• Check your devices for tracking via location services and turn those off. Make your profiles online very private and think about what you are posting.
- Plan where you are going
• If possible arrange to stay with a friend or family member in your support network, if you cannot do that – there are many shelters and refugees that will offer you emergency accommodation, private rentals or even public housing.
- Plan your finances
• It is extremely important to have a financial plan if you are concerned about how you are going to support yourself and/or your children. There are several financial assistance schemes including:
• Apply for Centrelink benefits including family tax benefit, job seeker, single parent payments.
• Open a new bank account, some banking institutions offer assistance in cases of domestic violence.
If you have children apply for child support.
You may have had a joint bank account, a home, cars or other property with your partner. You should seek advice from a family lawyer about your options for financial support. You may be able to apply to the Court for spousal maintenance, parenting arrangements or even a property settlement.
It does not necessarily matter whether the property was in your partners sole name, if you were married or in a defacto relationship, it is worthwhile seeking the advice of a solicitor to assist you with determining your entitlements.
Seek legal advice from an experienced family lawyer before you leave an abusive relationship.
Contact Ellie Sumner, our family law solicitor at Bale Boshev on (02) 4969 1522 for a free 15-minute consultation.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800 RESPECT for 24/7 support.
Ellie Sumner – Solicitor
Ellie practises in family law, wills and estate matters and has spent the last three years working in the North West and Newcastle and Hunter regions.
Ellie also has experience in worker’s compensation and personal injury.
Ellie makes regular appearances in the Family and Federal Circuit Courts of NSW at Newcastle