Family violence, assaults, threats, sexual assault and stalking are all against the law. Violence or forcing someone to have sex is a criminal offence, even if you are married. Everyone, regardless of their age, ability, ethnicity, sexuality, religion or culture, has the right to live free from abuse, and to legal protection.
Call the police
If there is sufficient evidence of assault or other offences, the police should lay criminal charges.
Evidence can include:
- a doctor’s report of injury or distress suffered
- police observations of furniture having been thrown about
- evidence from someone who saw or heard the violence, and
- your own testament.
You can also call the police if the offender is stalking you, for example: following you, harassing you over the phone, or keeping you under constant watch.
You can call the police for advice any time. For urgent attendance, ring 000.
If you have been sexually assaulted or raped, a Centre Against Sexual Assault can provide support and help you if you decide to report it to the police. See Services.
An Intervention Order is a court order that can protect you from further violence or stalking.
If you believe that the violence is likely to happen again, you can apply for an Intervention Order at your local Magistrate’s Court.
You can either do this yourself, or ask the police to do it on your behalf.
The police are obliged to take out an Intervention Order for you whenever the safety, welfare, or property of a family member appears to be endangered by another (Police Standing Orders).
Intervention Orders contain conditions aimed at preventing future violence, such as making it illegal for the offender from entering or coming near your home area your place of work or the children’s school.
What if we live together?
You can get an Intervention Order against someone you live with.
It can say that the person must not assault or threaten you.
In some cases the offender can be removed from your home.
What happens if they disobey the Intervention Order?
You can report it to the police, and they are obliged to act.
Does someone get a criminal record if there’s an Intervention Order on them?
No. If you have an Intervention Order against someone, it doesnt mean that the person has been charged with a criminal offence.
They don’t get a criminal record just because they have an Intervention Order against them.
But if they disobey the order, it is a criminal offence.
In Victoria, over 20,000 people a year apply for Intervention Orders from the Magistrates Court.
How do I apply for an Intervention Order?
- Apply for an Intervention Order at a Magistrates Court or ask the police to do it on your behalf.
- The ‘defendant’ is notified (the ‘defendant’ is the person who you’re asking the Intervention Order on).
- At a court hearing in the Magistrates Court, the magistrate will consider the evidence (which can include your story, any witnesses to the violence, photos, written material, doctor’s reports of injuries, and statements from police). The Magistrate will also listen to the defendant’s version of events. The Magistrate will then decide whether to make the order, and what conditions will be placed on it.
- If you need the order urgently, you can get in ‘interim’ order to provide temporary protection. This will last until the final Intervention Order is heard in court.
Technology and safety
Technology (such as the internet, computers, mobile phones etc) can be useful for victims. Technology can also be used by abusers.
- See our tip sheet on technology and safety
- find out the law in your state or territory with these Legal Guides.
Other ways to increase your safety
- Let supportive friends, family and neighbours know about what is happening.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers for family or friends who can assist you in an emergency.
- Remember that if you have a re-dial button on your telephone, anyone else in the house can push redial to find out who you have just rung.
- Keep important items somewhere safe in case you need to leave in a hurry (for example, important documents, such as birth certificates, bank books, tax file numbers, passports; a spare set of keys; medication; and a change of clothes).
- Let your children know what to do in an emergency (where to go, and who to telephone. Give them the numbers for the police, neighbours, relatives).
- Have in mind a place to which you and your children can go quickly, if necessary.
- You can contact safe steps Family Violence Response Centre to find free and safe place for you and your children to stay (Victoria) Ph. 1800 015 188 (toll free, available 24/7). There are 27 women’s refuges across Victoria that provide crisis accommodation and support. Workers are available at the refuges to help you and your children. To keep all residents safe, most Women’s Refuges cannot be contacted directly. You can get help or accommodation by ringing safe steps on 1800 015 188.
- Have an excuse prepared so you can leave quickly if your partner becomes threatening.
- Contact a support service to discuss other safety ideas. See Services
Children and Family Law
You can include children on an Intervention Order. Having an Intervention Order does not stop the defendant from applying under the Family Law Act for a contact order to allow them to see the children. But the Family Court should take the Intervention Order into account. These matters can be complex, and you should get legal advice.
Child abuse is an act by parents or caregivers which endangers a child or young person’s physical or emotional health or development. It includes physcial abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect. Child abuse can be a single incident, but usually takes place over time. Witnessing abuse by one parent towards another is harmful for children and may be considered a form of child abuse. The Child Protection Service is responsible for investigating reports of child abuse in Victoria, and for protecting children from abuse.
See the Better Health Channel website Child Protection Services (external link).
Department of Human Services website (external link) for information ‘About Child Abuse’ and information about the child protection system.
- Magistrate's Court of Victoria Family Violence website: information and videos to help you through the family violence intervention order court process.
- Applying for an Intervention Order: information from Legal Aid Victoria that tells you how to apply for an Intervention Order in the Magistrates Court.
- Safe from Violence: a guide for women leaving or separating from a violent partner