AVO – Apprehended Violence Order (Protection against Violence)
Most of us believe we can handle any given situation. Including those which are dangerous, particularly when the situation involves a loved one. It is sometimes difficult to comprehend that someone who loves us and cares for us, could ever want to bring harm to us. When, in fact, any loving relationship can become volatile. Whether it is a family member, such as a son, daughter, spouse, partner, parent, caregiver or close friend. Violence can, and does occur.
Emotions run high when love or even hurt feelings are involved. We would like to believe someone who loves us, would never harm us. Or that the argument over the dog barking next door could not possibly turn into threats and intimidations. This simply is not true…
Crimes against a loved one can and does happen anywhere and in any family. However, this is not okay. There are many resources available to control and in some cases stop the violence being perpetrated against you. Possibly it is someone you know or love or maybe it is a total stranger. There are steps which can be taken to prevent future violence if someone has hurt you or threatens to hurt you.
Although some believe an AVO is a simple piece of paper and has little to no meaning to an offender, it is a deterrent against crimes. Once an AVO has been filed, the offender can very well understand your behavior will not be accepted and you can face imprisonment, fines or both.
What is an AVO? An AVO is an “Apprehended Violence Order”. There are two types of AVOs – Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (AVDO) and Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) (Sydney, n.d.).
AVOs are to protect a victim from future violence. According to the website of Armstrong Legal, an AVDO is usually brought against a caregiver, family member, spouse, partner or child within a family unit.
The APVO order protects victims from violence from those whom are not within the family household, such as; neighbor, acquaintance, stalker, or someone possibly unknown to the victim. An AVO can be granted on the grounds that a person has fear of being harmed, has been harmed, witnessed harm or is being stalked or intimidated by another individual. While AVOs protect everyone, law the restrictions are more lenient when it comes to children, these case do not have to be proved when there is a child victim. You or the police can request and apply for an AVO.
Women and children are our most vulnerable and susceptible to have violence committed against them. Mainly in part to their inability to protect themselves against stronger or more violent individuals. Kristen Diemer provided information in her article which states: “Sadly, violence against women in Australia, over their lifetime, is not declining. Two out of every five women experience some form of physical or sexual abuse. And nearly half have experienced sexual harassment since the age of 15. Few Australians openly support violence against women, but many others subtly endorse it by trivialising and excusing acts of abuse” (Diemer, 2014).
For those not involved or surrounded by violence it may appear incomprehensible that someone could hurt a loved one or that anyone would tolerate such behavior. However, it does occur. There is protection in AVO orders.
Once an AVO has been issued, it is important to report any and all violations or breaches. A text, a phone call, driving back and forth in front of your place of residence, intimidation; any breach what-so-ever, should be documented and reported to the authorities.
Although reporting every slight breach may seem unimportant or trivial, documentation and reports can be used against the perpetrator should the violence escalate or when the court hearing is at hand.
Steps need to be taken to ensure police, authorities and judges view these AVOs as a priority. It is extremely serious when reports are being made that someone is being threatened, harassed, stalked or intimidated. A slap on the wrist, or an “okay, let’s not see this again”, will not work nor does it deter an offender. There must be consequences for such behavior.
Usually it is the cases where the perpetrators harassments or threats are dismissed as “angry and will calm down” that have the most severe results, involving extreme harm and in some cases, death to the victim. There are no consequences for their violence, intimidation or threats, therefore, this gives them a sense of power over their victims, such as the case of Kelly Thompson and Wayne Wood.
“Wayne Wood, 59, Kelly’s partner of four and a half years, had murdered Kelly, 43, apparently sometime in the early hours of February 9, then he had killed himself” (Souter, 2014). Kelly had an AVO against Wood, however, no follow through from authorities placed her at an even greater risk” (Souter, 2014). Although not solely unheard of, Ms. Thompson’s case is one which deserves attention due to the fact that she relied on the justice system and the AVO for protection.
“In NSW, there were 12,781 recorded breaches of AVOs in 2012. It is thought that as many as one in three orders are breached, up from one in four last year” (Souter, 2014). These statistics are prime examples of the importance of holding officials accountable. Yet, we cannot dismiss the importance of an AVO.
Although authorities and the courts may be partially to blame for the deaths of those victims which have not survived, despite their AVO orders, it is also our responsibility as citizens and community members to ensure violent crimes are dealt with accordingly. Parliament and legislators should also be held accountable for these violent crimes if they continue to allow these offenders to remain free with no consequences.
However, let’s touch on a sensitive, yet important aspect to each of these violent crimes. As explained earlier, we do not wish to believe someone we love and someone who loves us would bring harm to us. Are we responsible for our own well-being? Our own lives? Indeed we are.
As difficult as this may sound, we are responsible for ourselves. We can’t control the way another person or human being may act or react, but, rather than dismissing that first threat, that first act of extreme violence and blaming ourselves, let’s place blame squarely where it belongs. On the perpetrator…
Have them removed from the home, an AVO can assist with this. File that AVO and seek counseling immediately. We cannot predict what others will do, we can however, predict how we will react to it and take the necessary steps to ensure it does not happen again. Do not tolerate this type of behavior. No one has the right to place their hands on another human being.
No one deserves to be abused, harmed, stalked, intimidated, or threatened simply because one individual has lost all control of their emotions and more than likely their senses. Why wait until the situation and the person is totally out of control? There are warning signs of the violence escalating. A push, a slap, a shove, a threat, verbal belittlement, shaming, warnings of impending danger.
Make it perfectly clear, this is unacceptable behavior and file that AVO. In most cases, it will slow down if not completely stop the violence. Follow through on it…do not accept an apology and “let it slide”. “Again, this is confirmation for the perpetrator that no matter what they do, you will get past it. Even though we would like to believe “it won’t happen again”, statistics have shown that once violence becomes prevalent, without interference it will escalate.
There are no guarantees it won’t happen again, but, why take that chance. We are not equipped, nor do we have the knowledge and skills required to deal with persons wishing to bring harm to us or who have violent rages and outburst.
“It is now thought that only a small proportion of Domestic Violence in Australia is actually reported” (Armstrong Legal-Sydney, n.d.). “The Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) is designed to protect people who fear domestic violence and abuse” (Armstrong Legal-Sydney, n.d.)
AVO QLD describes behaviours which are covered under the “Domestic Violence and Family Violence Protection Act” defines domestic violence in the following way (Brisbane Women’s Legal Service):
- When someone is physically or sexually abusive to you, or
- Is emotionally or psycholigically abusive to you, or
- is economically abusive to you or
- is threatening, or
- is coercive, or
- in any other way controls or dominates you and causes you to fear for your safety or wellbeing or that of someone else.
The website provides information on how to obtain an AVO and the process to establish the procedures necessary.
Steps to take to end the violence:
- Contact your local police and file the AVO…
- Should violence occur within our family, we cannot, must not, ignore the fact it is happening.
- Document, document, and document each and every violation once the AVO is in place.
- Become diligent in your reporting. Report all violations and breaches to the police.
- Do not take for granted that the AVO will 100% stop the perpetrator.
- Continue to remain cautious. Be aware of your surroundings.
- Advocate for justice, even if you are not a victim of violence, for these children, women and others who need your support.
- Seek assistance and counseling.
There are resources throughout Australia to assist with filing an AVO or reporting violence, whether it is for a family member, neighbor, loved one, friend or yourself:
Resources (Diemer, 2014):
Women’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service of Victoria,\0x20281800 015 188, www.wdvcs.org.au.
– Domestic Violence Line (NSW), 1800 656 463, www.domestic violence.nsw.gov.au.
– National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1800 799 7233, www.thehotline.org. Queensland DV Connect Hotline, 1800 811 811, www.dvconnect.org.
Note: call 000 if you are in danger.
If you feel the authorities are not responding to the AVO, documentation, reports, etc., contact your local attorney’s office, the DA, Judges, Parliament, and Legislation, write those letters and bring as much attention to the case as possible. Put pen to paper to bring your situation to the forefront and do not stop until action is taken. It could be the difference between life and death….
Diemer, K. (2014, September 16). Trivialising and excusing violence against women. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from THE DRUM: www.abc.net.au/news
LawAssist. (n.d.). Getting an Apprehended Violence Order. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from LawAssist: www.lawassistlawaccess.nsw.gov.au
Service, B. W. (n.d.). Queensland – Protection Orders. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from QLD – NCSMC.org: http://www.ncsmc.org.au/wsas/legal_system/avo_qld.htm
Souter, F. (2014, July 31). How AVOs Are Failing Our Most Vulnerable Women. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from Marie Claire: au.lifestyle.yahoo.com/marie-claire/news
Sydney, A. L. (n.d.). Apprehended Violence Orders. Retrieved November 19, 2014, from AussieLegal: www.AussieLegal.com.au