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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

For some children and young people in New Zealand, domestic violence is an everyday part of their lives.  Young people are particularly at risk of experiencing violence directly, or else watching another family member being abused.

Domestic violence is about abuse in the home, but it’s not just about being hit or smacked.  The term “domestic violence” covers a range of abusive behaviour – physical, sexual or psychological – that leads to fear, intimidation and emotional deprivation for the person experiencing the behaviour.

No matter what you have done, or what reasons someone gives for being abusive towards you, there is no excuse for domestic violence.

Domestic violence can occur in all types of family situations, and in all cultures.  If you are experiencing domestic violence, there are steps that you can take under the law to try and change your situation.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is about abuse in situations where people are in a domestic relationship, such as boyfriend and girlfriend, parent and child, brothers and sisters, people who share a house, or other close personal relationships.

Under the law, domestic violence includes:

I’m being hit by my parent, is that physical abuse?

Physical abuse is any form of contact or assault that is meant to hurt or injure you, e.g. hitting, kicking, punching, slapping, burning, pushing, pulling or using an object to hurt you (for example, using a cricket bat to hit you, or throwing things at you).

What is psychological abuse?

Psychological abuse is abuse that is not physical or sexual. This includes verbal abuse, intimidation (trying to make someone feel scared), harassment, damage to property, threats of physical or sexual abuse, financial or economic abuse.

Some examples of psychological abuse are saying:

  • “If you leave me, I’ll kill you.”
  • “Do that again and I’ll take the baby away from you.”
  • Sending you upsetting text/voice messages and emails.
  • Constantly putting you down or verbally abusing you.

If a person allows a child to see physical, sexual or psychological abuse to another person or puts a child at risk of seeing or hearing abuse, this is also psychological abuse.

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse is any form of sexual behaviour that happens without your permission, for example forcing you to have sex, forcing you to touch yourself sexually, or forcing you to touch someone else sexually. Sexual abuse can also happen without touching, including forcing you to watch pornography, using texts or talking to you in a sexual way, asking you to pose sexually, and asking you to remove your clothing to name a few.

What should I do if I am suffering from domestic abuse?

If you or your children are experiencing any domestic violence, you need to talk to someone.

If there is any immediate danger, call the Police on 111 immediately.
If you want to contact an organisation that may offer you some help, you can call Women’s Refuge on 0800 REFUGE (733 843), Shakti Youth on 0800 SHAKTI (742 584) or Shine on 0508 744 633.

For long-term protection, you can apply to the Family Court for a Protection Order for you and your children.
The Police can also issue a Police Safety Order if they think you’re at risk from violence.

If you are unsure what to do, please call us on 0800 UTHLAW (884 529).

I’m abused by a person who is not in a domestic relationship with me, what can I do?

If you’re not in a domestic relationship with someone who is abusing or harassing you, you might be able to get a restraining order.

What is a Protection Order?

If you are or have been in a domestic relationship with someone violent or abusive towards you, you can apply for a Protection Order.

A Protection Order is a legal order that aims to protect you by ordering the other person to stop being violent, and in some cases to stop having contact with you.

If you are under a protection order, but the person continues to be violent or abusive, they are committing a crime and you can call the Police.

For more information about a protection order, contact YouthLaw or your local Community Law Centre for advice.

What can a Protection Order protect me from?

Each Protection Order is different, depending what the judge considers you and your children would need to be protected from.

The Order can include conditions of:

  • Non-violence;
  • Non-contact;
  • Weapon surrender;
  • Attending stopping violence programmes;
  • Occupation Order;
  • Tenancy Order;
  • Furniture Order.

When can I get a Protection Order?

The Family Court can make a protection order if it is satisfied that:

  • you are or were in a domestic relationship
  • the person you are applying against has used domestic violence against you or your children
  • an order is necessary to protect you or your children

If the person being violent against you is under 17 years old, you cannot apply for a protection order against them unless they are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship.
If you think you satisfy the criteria, you can apply for a protection order at your nearest Family Court.
You will need some help from an adult if you are under 16.

You don’t need a lawyer to apply for a protection order, but we advise that you use one.  At the very least, it is useful to get some legal advice, as the paperwork for a protection order can be tricky to fill out correctly.

How do I apply for a Protection Order?

You can apply for a Protection Order at your nearest Family Court if you meet the criteria for getting a protection order.

If you are over 16, you can apply for a Protection Order by yourself.  You can also apply at any age if you are married, in a civil union, or in a de facto relationship.

If you are under 16, an adult (e.g. parent) will need to represent you and make the application for you.  You can still give your views to the Court about why you are applying for a Protection Order, and the judge must take your views into account when making their decision.

Do I need a lawyer to apply for a Protection Order?

You don’t need a lawyer to apply for a protection order, but we advise that you use one.  At the very least, it is useful to get some legal advice, as the paperwork for a protection order can be tricky to fill out correctly.

Do I have to tell the other person I’m applying for a protection order against them?

You can apply for a Protection Order with or without notice.  If you fear for your safety or need urgent protection, the judge can grant your application “without notice”, which gives you a temporary Protection Order without hearing from the other person.

If you apply for a Protection Order “with notice”, then the other person will have the chance to tell their side of the story in a Court hearing before the judge makes a decision.

What can I do to challenge a protection order?

You have the right to go to the Family Court to be heard about whether a protection order should be made against you.

Firstly you will need to you notify the court that you want to be heard, the registrar must set a hearing date that must be as soon as practicable, and in no case later than six weeks (unless there are special circumstances). If you’re unsuccessful in challenging the temporary order, it becomes a permanent protection order after three months.

In a Protection Order, what is a non-violence condition?

The person you are protected against cannot:

  • physically or sexually abuse you;
  • threaten to abuse you;
  • damage or threaten to damage your property;
  • intimidate or harass you;
  • encourage someone else to abuse you.

In a Protection Order, what is a non-contact condition?

Usually, the person you are protected against cannot have contact with you.  But, if you want to have contact, and if you want to live with them, you can ask for this to happen.  Even if you allow contact, remember that you can always change your mind and stop having contact.

Except in very specific situations, under the non-contact condition the person you are protected against cannot:

  • watch, follow or stalk you;
  • stop you from going to your home, school or work;
  • call, text, email, message or write to you.

In a Protection Order, what is a weapon surrender?

If the person has any weapons, they will be asked to give these to the Police, usually within 24 hours of being given a copy of the Protection Order.

In a Protection Order, what is a stopping violence programme?

The Court will usually order that the person you are protected against must attend and complete a programme about living without violence unless there are good reasons not to.

These programmes are about stopping domestic violence, by changing the behaviour of the person being violent.

There are also free support programmes and counselling sessions available for people and children experiencing domestic violence.

I didn’t attend my stopping violence programme, what will happen?

The programme provider must inform the Family Court within 7 days if you do not attend, and you can be ordered to appear in front of a judge regarding your breach of the conditions of your protection order. It is a crime to breach your conditions.

In a Protection Order, what is an Occupation Order?

As part of the protection order, you can ask for the right to live in the house that you live in, even if the person you are applying against owns or partially owns the property.

If an occupation order is made, the other person needs to move out.  Usually, a judge will make an Occupation Order if it’s in the best interests of any children living with you, but they will also make the order if it is necessary for your protection.

In a Protection Order, what is a Tenancy Order?

If you and the person you are applying against are renting a house, you can apply for a Tenancy Order.  A tenancy order has the same effect as an Occupation Order but applies to houses that are rented.

You can apply for Occupation or Tenancy orders without notice if there has been physical or sexual abuse, or if making an application with notice will expose you or your children to physical or sexual abuse.

In a Protection Order, what is a Furniture Order?

A Furniture Order allows you to keep all the furniture and appliances in the house.  You can apply for a furniture order by itself, or with an Occupation or Tenancy Order.

What do I do if the Protection Order is breached?

You can call the Police on 111 if the conditions on the Protection Order are being breached and you are in immediate danger. The Police can charge the person who has breached the Protection Order.

Otherwise, you can contact your local Police station or talk to your lawyer.

Having copies of your Protection Order around will be helpful when the Police come by to take statements. If your children are protected by a Protection Order, you should also let your children’s school and after school programmes know.

What happens if I breach a Protection Order?

If you breach a Protection Order and break any of its conditions e.g. by harassing or trying to contact the people whom the Protection Order protects, you can be reported to the Police and the Police can charge you.  Breaching a Protection Order without good reason is a serious crime, for which you can be fined or imprisoned for.

The Family Court can also change the terms of the Protection Order.

The Police can also charge you with any other crimes you may be committing.  For example, if you breach the Order by coming onto the property without permission, you can also be charged with trespass.

When does a Protection Order end?

Temporary Protection Orders last for up to three months. If you apply for a Protection Order without notice, then you will usually get a temporary order.  Once the other person finds out that you have applied for a Protection Order, they can decide to challenge it and the Court will set a Court hearing date to decide whether a permanent Protection Order is needed.

If the other person does not challenge the temporary Protection Order within three months, it will become a final, permanent order.

Once a Protection Order becomes permanent, you can only remove it by applying to have it ended (discharged) at the Family Court.  The Court will only discharge the order if the Judge is satisfied that you no longer need the Protection Order.

I need to be protected from abuse right now, can the Police give me a Protection Order?

If you are in immediate danger, call 111 now.

The Police cannot give a Protection Order, but they are able to issue a Police Safety Order which lasts for up to five days.

What is a Police Safety Order (PSO)?

If the Police have good reason to think there has been domestic violence in a family situation, they can issue a PSO.

A PSO is aimed at giving people immediate protection from violence and abuse without going to Court.  It can last up to five days.

The Police can issue a PSO even if you, or the person being violent towards you, do not agree to it.

If the Police want to issue a PSO, they can keep the person at the police station for a couple of hours while they sort out the paperwork.

If you would like something more permanent, you will need to get a protection order.

What can a Police Safety Order (PSO) do?

A person issued with a PSO may be required to:

  • Leave the address where the domestic violence has happened, even if they own the house or live there;
  • Stop being violent or abusive to the protected person and their children;
  • Stop contacting the protected person or their children;
  • Give up their guns and weapons to the police.

If the person breaches the PSO, the Police can arrest them and take them to Court.  At Court, the Judge might decide to let them go, ask the police to issue another PSO, or else issue a Temporary Protection Order against them if the person needing protection agrees to it.

I’m suffering from domestic violence, where can I get help?

There are several agencies you can call:

  • The Police on 111 in an emergency;
  • Shine on 0508 744 633 – a national domestic abuse charity helping keep people safe from domestic abuse and family violence. Shine also helps aggressors of domestic violence relationship if they wish to change their habits.
  • Are You OK on 0800 456 450 – a community-driven behaviour change campaign to reduce family violence.
  • Women’s Refuge on 0800 REFUGE (733 843) – for female victims of domestic violence;
  • Shakti on 0800 SHAKTI (742 584) – a national domestic abuse intervention programme for immigrant women and children

Where can I find more information about domestic violence?

The following websites contain information that may be useful to you and your family:

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