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Dissatisfied with Vic police/legal response to FVIO request, so far

The_Righteous_Dude
Community Member

Good evening,

After dealing with years of verbal abuse and coercive control, I finally applied for a family violence intervention order in late May.

After a few days of answering follow-up questions with a court registrar, I was told on a Monday that a court summons had been issued and would be hand-delivered by police.

By Thursday morning, no summons had appeared. I rang the local police and was informed it had arrived there on Wednesday, and may be delivered later in the day. I asked to receive advance warning of its delivery, so I could prepare myself; police promised they would send me a sms.

Eventually, the police came at 11am Friday. I didn't receive the promised sms and the police didn't stay long enough to answer any questions from my partner who isn't a native English speaker. My partner didn't realise what it was until the police left.

The following day, I rang the court to ask questions about what happens next; they advised that an interpreter would be present and we didn't need lawyers at this stage.

A week later, I needed to call 000 because I was afraid my partner would physically attack me. Two police came and got each person's version of events, advised no crime had been committed and they couldn't do anything and left. My partner and I both received generic text messages as the only follow up.

The court hearing was supposed to occur last Friday, but couldn't proceed because the court had forgotten to book an interpreter.

This morning, the hearing was "stood down" (temporarily adjourned) when the magistrate found out we both hadn't received legal advice.

We got the legal advice, but this afternoon we were the last case of the day, and it all felt rushed; I was dissatisfied with the process, along with the outcome: no interim intervention order. It has also emboldened my partner in their abuse, lying and playing the victim.

Not that it changes anything, but - having seen how male DV survivors feel in other threads - for the record, I am a male and my abusive partner is female.

As Victoria has had a royal commission into family violence, I would have hoped for a better response by the police and courts. I get that the system is overloaded, but still...

How can I get the legal system to recognise my abuser has a psychological problem when it is basically my word against hers?

Also, how can I complain to the police in a de-identified way?


13 Replies 13

Croix
Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear The Righteous Dude~

Welcome here to the Support Forum, a good choice as you may find others with similar stories.

I'm sorry to hear firstly that you have an abusive partner and that secondly you got caught up in a mess of legalities, court appearances and police not meeting your expectations.

It is an exceedingly frustrating and worrying position to be in.

I'm afraid that none of these incidents is new and not confined to you. Sadly the system does not work properly in many cases -the business over the interpreter and also legal advice is the sort of thing that happens when it is not just one peron looking after all the details -with very poor results for you.

May I suggest -if you have not done so already - ring 1800Respect - 1800 737 732, as they are an excellent place to receive advice and be steered towards those that can help .

I guess from now on it is a question of perseverance, which takes a great deal out of you. Do you have any friends or family to talk with who will listen and care? Sharing the load makes a big difference if you can.

I'm not sure why you might want to talk to the police anonymously, I must be misunderstanding, I would have thought if you needed assistance during an abusive episode you would need to give exact details for your own protection.

If you wished to complain about anything then your details would again be necessary so the matter could be looked into.

I hope you are able to come back and talk more.

Croix

Summer Rose
Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi The Righteous Dude

Welcome to the bb forum.

I applaud your courage in reaching out to police and taking action to deal with the abuse you have endured from your partner. I know that it couldn’t have been easy for you, and I’m so sorry that you were further traumatised by the system.

It shouldn’t be that hard to seek help. And it’s really not good enough. You may want to consider reaching out to your State MP for support and help to make a formal complaint to Victoria Police, if that’s something you’d like to pursue.

I can understand your concern about trying to prove the abuse occurred. As with all “he said, she said” situations it can be hard.

Given the abuse happened over several years, perhaps there are witnesses who can support you? Perhaps you disclosed to your doctor or a friend at some point in time? Perhaps you have text messages or voicemails from your abuser?

I wish you all the best as you pursue the matter. I also encourage you to look after your mental health. It might pay to check in with your GP to discuss how you are feeling. Stress takes a toll, so does domestic abuse—even if you’re unable to see it right now, given you’re in the thick of it.

Kind thoughts to you

Hi Croix,

Thanks for your reply.

You asked:

> I'm not sure why you might want to talk to the police anonymously, I must be misunderstanding, I would have thought if you needed assistance during an abusive episode you would need to give exact details for your
own protection.

My thought: Because the FVIO legal process is ongoing and I may require further police assistance in the future, ideally my complaint could not be matched via my name to the FVIO summons. I might just wait until the process in concluded, because I have a good memory or some detailed notes of what happened when.

===

Hi Summer Rose,

Thanks for your reply too.

You asked:

> Given the abuse happened over several years, perhaps there are witnesses who can support you? Perhaps you disclosed to your doctor or a friend at some point in time? Perhaps you have text messages or voicemails from your abuser?

Good idea!

I am planning on sounding out some family members and trusted friends who were aware of the situation pre-COVID, as to whether they would be willing to testify to what they heard, that I was upset, etc.

When I blocked her mobile number, it made the messages disappear; if not, I would later delete them. I also checked and the mobile phone bills only itemise phone calls, not text messages, so it may be difficult to prove coercive control in that way.

As I couldn't get to see a psychologist that my GP recommended earlier in the year, I signed up to six sessions with a free office-provided psychologist service and had a "just ok" experience; they wanted me to get a serology blood test (which the GP said was a waste of time), do an online course in assertive speaking (which doesn't work when your abuser has a psychological problem), etc. Fortunately, I am now able to see a psychologist at the GP-recommended place, who I find is much more on my wavelength.

I thought I would share an update:

Three days after the court appearance, my wife threatened to "kill us both". I call 000 and the police arranged for my wife to be taken to a hospital by paramedics for a health check under Section 351 of the Mental Health Act.

There didn't appear to be any mental health assessment in this time and my wife then went to the local police station. There, she was served a Family Violence Safety Notice, with a court appearance for the following week and a warning that she could be arrested if she committed family violence before then. She then returned home late in the evening.

At the court appearance, I wasn't directly involved as the local court's prosecution office was acting on my behalf. When I rang them up the day before, they said they would be seeking a "safe contact order", allowing contact but forbidding family violence, damage to property and hiring anybody to do it for her. But on the day, the prosecutor said they wouldn't be seeking any order, because they said it was a "misunderstanding". I protested and said the only "misunderstanding" was that I thought my wife threatened to kill herself and I, when actually it was herself and our teenage daughter. Unfortunately, the magistrate didn't see it this way, and didn't impose any orders or conditions; the next court hearing for the intervention order is in two weeks time.

So I still feel frustrated that my concerns are being ignored, my efforts to do everything properly/by the book are getting nowhere, and my wife's mental health condition - which I believe are causing her concerning behaviours - still hasn't been properly assessed.

At this point, the only hope I have that the magistrates court might reconsider is around a report by Child Protection Services, who interviewed us separately on the same day as the last online court session. They are assessing whether our daughter is at risk from either parent; the report is supposed to be finished prior to the next court hearing.

Hi The Righteous Dude

Wow! So much to unpack in your update. Thank you for touching base.

I haven’t ever had contact with the courts or police in a situation like yours and I feel overwhelmed just reading about it. Hugs to you.

I’m sorry that it’s so difficult for you to be heard and gain the protection you are seeking. It makes me wonder if you would benefit from legal advice. Is this something you have considered?

Is your daughter living with you or her mum? I think I’d be doing everything “legal” and possible to keep her safe.

I hope that you are taking care of yourself through all this. Lots of self care, self love, healthy food, rest and exercise to try and manage your stress/anxiety.

Kind thoughts to you

Hi The Righteous Dude, 

Thank you for sharing an update, a lot has happened and it sounds incredibly difficult. We're sorry that you and your family are facing so many barriers to accessing support in the community. This must be a really scary time, and we're glad you have had the bravery and openness to share how you're feeling here. 

We really encourage you to ring 1800Respect to talk about this, on 1800 737 732, if you haven't already done so. Their trained counsellors will work with you to help you identify what you can do and to find the right services or support for you, in order to keep your family safe. 

It's also really important that you look after yourself in this situation, so please don't hesitate to give our helpline a call whenever you feel distressed on 1300 22 4636, or you can use our webchat or email. One of our friendly counsellors will be able to talk through these feelings with you and can offer support, advice and referrals. 

We can see that you are trying to work it out and we hope that you can get some good advice from this community. Thank you again for sharing your story.  
 
Kind regards, 

Sophie M

So, the legal process has concluded with the intervention order version of a plea bargain.

My partner has agreed to my suggestion of a safe contact order with three conditions:

1. No family violence - not just physical violence, but also including coercive control, verbal abuse, etc
2. No damage to property
3. No "agency", i.e. she can't arrange somebody else to do #1 or #2 on her behalf

The SCO will be valid for twelve months. Yesterday, we both received copies of the safe contact order, delivered by post.

Still, part of me wishes we could get to the root cause of my partner's behaviour: in my opinion, a psychological problem that she refuses to acknowledge or seek treatment for. So, at that level, there may still be some unresolved issues that could potentially flare up in the future.

Most importantly, however, I now have a legal acknowledgment that our child and I need protection. In addition, my partner is on notice about what is and isn't acceptable behaviour; repeating some of the things she has done in the past could result in her arrest and criminal prosecution.

Until this third hearing, I wasn't sure the process was worthwhile. Now, I feel it was.

Some other points of interest:
- It helps a lot when your duty lawyer can attend the actual court hearing and takes more than the minimum time to discuss the case with you in advance. I got lucky this time.
- A report by Child Protection Services - into whether our child is at risk from either parent - is still yet to materialise, despite CPS staff promising it would be ready before the next court hearing. Apparently, this is not uncommon.
- Online court sessions require you to either wait in an online lobby and remain near your device until your name is called, OR you are kept in the virtual courtroom and have to listen to the start of every other case to ensure you don't miss your hearing. The first time we were called at 10:30, the second time at 3:30, the third time at 12:50.

Dear The Righteous Dude~

I'm very glad for you the way things worked out and you did not give up, despite the discouraging events..

I am not sure you are ever going to be in a position to seek diagnosis and if appropriate treatment for your wife as things stand at the moment. Maybe the Child Protection Services report may make a difference

I think your advice towards the end of the post will be very valuable for some of our readers in similar positions

Croix

Hi the Righteous Dude,

I have done a lot of research regarding domestic violence and the more insidious form of coercive control etc as I am considering changing careers to something in this field given my own past history. And wherever there is domestic violence, it seems to point to narcissistic personality disorder. In women, more commonly vulnerable narcissistic personality disorder. In which the person is often seemingly shy, insecure, lack self-esteem and very often have not done much career-wise etc. but also very entitled, they may have been excessively praised as a child by one or both parents. and so there is this fracturing of self. they weaponise this fragility and exert their force in an attempt to provide them with a sense of control. They will experience bouts of narcissistic rage when their ego is injured, which occurs very easily. I’m not sure whether this applies to your situation but might be worthy of a read. It’s still a relatively new/evolving area of research and people with NPD are notoriously resistant to psychological help (because it’s everyone else’s fault and they use it as another means of manipulation), but might help explain things for you.