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Domestic violence

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Domestic violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is abuse committed by one person against another person where they are in a certain type of relationship such as a couple relationship, a family relationship and in some cases an informal carer relationship.

Abuse can take many forms including:

  • Physical abuse (hitting, pushing, twisting arm, or hitting with objects).
  • Sexual abuse (coercing a person to engage in sexual activity or attempting to do so).
  • Verbal abuse (name calling, putting you down, swearing at you).
  • Emotional or psychological abuse (repeated unwelcome contact, repeated taunting or name calling, threats to withhold things a person needs, preventing a person from making or keeping connections with other people, other tormenting, intimidating or harassing behaviours).
  • Economic or financial abuse (coercing a person to relinquish control of assets or income, preventing access to a person’s property, coercing a person to sign legal documents, or preventing a person from seeking or keeping employment).
  • Threats (to hurt you, another person or an animal, or to damage your property).
  • Depriving a person of their liberty or threatening to do so.
  • Threatening self-harm to torment, intimidate or frighten you.
  • Unauthorised surveillance (reading private text messages or emails, using a GPS device to track a person’s movements).
  • Unlawful stalking (following a person on foot or in a car).
  • Coercing a person (to do or not do a certain thing, or to act or not act a certain way).
  • Coercive control (a pattern of behaviour that may occur over a period of time, which may be more than 1 act, or a series of acts that when considered cumulatively and in the context of the whole relationship is abusive, threatening, coercive or causes fear). Read our Coercive Control factsheet to learn more.
  • Asking someone else to do any of the above behaviours to a person on their behalf.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It is not a normal part of healthy relationships.

What is domestic violence?


Legal Myths – Does domestic violence mean I need to prove they physically hurt me?

What can I do if I am experiencing domestic violence?

If you are experiencing domestic violence, or even if you are not sure, it is important to seek help.

You can contact a support service

There are support services that specialise in helping people who are experiencing domestic violence. These services can talk to you about what is happening, help you make a plan to keep safe and connect you with other helpful services.

DVConnect on 1800 811 811

1800 RESPECT on 1800 737 732

Or there may be a local support service in your area.

You may want to speak to police

If you are in danger, call 000.

If you are not in immediate danger, you can also call police link on 131 444 or go to your local station in person.

Speak to police about what is happening, including any text messages or other evidence you might have.

They may charge the person using violence with a crime or apply for protection for you by making a police protection notice (PPN) or an application for a domestic violence order (DVO).

You may want to seek legal advice

You can contact us on 1800 957 957 to request free legal advice including advice on what legal protections are available if you are experiencing domestic violence.

There are also a number of other places to get legal advice, including private lawyers, other community legal centres or Legal Aid Queensland.

You may want to apply for a domestic violence order for yourself

Click through this resource to find out more about the process.

How do I apply for a domestic violence order?

If you are a victim-survivor of domestic violence and are in:

  • an intimate relationship (married, de facto or a couple relationship even if you do not live together); or
  • a family relationship; or
  • an informal care relationship

with the person who has committed domestic violence against you, you can make an application to any local magistrates court to seek a domestic violence order (DVO).

A DVO is sometimes called a protection order.

There is a digital form, that you can complete online, or a paper form, which you can complete by hand. Forms and information can be found on the Qld courts website.

The application does not cost money.

You will be called the “aggrieved” if you are seeking protection. The person you are seeking protection from will be called the “respondent”.

The court will want to know what has been happening. This usually means explaining:

  • What abuse you have experienced (try to give specific examples like “he hit me with his fist after dinner” rather than general comments “he always abuses me”); and
  • When the abuse happened (a date if you can recall, otherwise placing it in time by saying “a few weeks ago”. If you cannot remember when, you can say that); and
  • How it made you feel (for example, “I was frightened I would be injured”).

3 things needed for a protection order

What does a domestic violence order do?

A domestic violence order (DVO) is a legal order that can be made by a magistrates court. It tells a respondent that they are not allowed to do certain things and puts boundaries on their behaviour.

Every DVO will require the other person “to be of good behaviour and not to commit domestic violence”, but it can also contain other conditions such as:

  • Prohibiting contact.
  • Prohibiting the person from approaching you (sometimes within a metre radius).
  • Prohibiting a person from attending where you live, work or frequent.
  • Requiring a person to vacate your premises (in certain circumstances).
  • Prohibiting a person from locating you.
  • Prohibiting a person from using the internet to communicate with you, publish pictures or make adverse comments about you.
  • Prohibiting a person from doing the above things in relation to a child or other person you are seeking to obtain protection for under the order.
  • Prohibiting a person from attending a child’s school or day care facility.

If the other person does not follow the conditions in an order, they can be charged with a criminal offence and be punished by the court.

A respondent is not permitted to hold or apply for a weapons license if they have a DVO made against them.

A DVO usually lasts for 5 years.

What is a Protection Order

Can I get protection urgently?

After you fill out the application form and give it to your closest magistrates court you will be given a court date and the application will be given to the other party.

Be aware that the other party will read what you include in the application at some point. The court will organise for the police to give the other party the application. You do not have to organise this.

When you apply, you should ask the court to make a temporary protection order (TPO) so you can have protection as soon as possible and until the matter goes through the whole court process.

The court can make TPOs urgently and sometimes before the other party is given a copy of the application. It is important to tell the court registry, and to include on your application form, any concerns you have for your immediate safety and about your safety once the other party is made aware you have applied. This can help the court determine how urgent it is to consider your TPO, and what conditions you require.

What are the respondent’s options?

The person whom an order is made against is called the respondent.

After the respondent is served, they can:

  1. Ignore the application and not attend court. If they do this the court can make a temporary protection order (TPO) or final domestic violence order (DVO) against them if all other legal criteria is met.
  2. Attend court and agree to the order. This is called ‘consent’ and is usually ‘without admissions’ because the court does not require the respondent to admit to domestic violence to make the DVO against them.
  3. Attend the court and ask for more time. This is called ‘an adjournment’. If the matter is adjourned, you will be given a further court date.
  4. The respondent can attend court and ask to fight the application – this is called ‘contesting’. This will not remove the TPO (if a TPO is made), but the court will make directions to prepare the matter to be decided at a trial by the court. This involves both parties giving the court all of the evidence they want to rely on by a particular date, and the parties will be given a trial date to attend. The trial date will be on a later date and usually involves both parties being asked questions about their evidence. This is called cross examination.

The applicant for the DVO (usually the aggrieved or the police) will need to attend each court date to pursue the application. If the applicant stops attending the court may think they do not want to continue and cancel the application. If the police have applied for you, the police attend on your behalf.

If the respondent also files their own application for a protection order against you, this is known as a cross-application. If this happens you should get legal advice.

Can my children be protected by the temporary protection order or domestic violence order?

Children can be protected by a temporary protection order or domestic violence order if you are applying for yourself, and a child has experienced or been exposed to domestic violence. There is a part on the form to add the child’s details and you can ask for particular conditions too.

How will a temporary protection order or domestic violence order affect arrangements for my children?

A temporary protection order (TPO) or domestic violence order (DVO) does not necessarily stop the other party from seeing the child. Exceptions can be added to your TPO or DVO to make sure any agreed parenting arrangements and the terms of the TPO or DVO work in harmony.

TPOs and DVOs are not the same as family law orders and have a different purpose. You should obtain legal advice about what parenting orders are appropriate.

Legal Myths – Is a protection order the same as a parenting order?

Can I cancel or vary a domestic violence order later?

Yes. An application can be made for a domestic violence order (DVO) to be removed (if safe to do so) or varied to increase or decrease the conditions or the time period where appropriate. You should seek legal advice about what information the court will take into account before applying for any changes.

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