Apprehended Violence Orders Are Currently Unsafe
This sad story below is repeated so often and the police, the courts and the government do not understand where to go to control this scurge on society that keeps desperate people in far of their lives. We must do a lot better – we can do better if we give more than a piece of paper to the victims of DV before they are harmed or even killed!
The whole legal process needs to comprehend that when a person gets to the point in reporting that there is domestic violence that needs external action there has been history of violence leading up to the reporting of the violence. The AVO will not stop the violence and may in fact increase the potential for violence as the anger rises because of the suppression of the control the aggressor formally had. The understanding of this means we must re-think how we should do Domestic Violence matters.
The issue is at hand it to protect the victim of domestic violence right through the whole process and so when a report is made, we have to make sure that we do not see the victim becoming a person in a body bag, as happens far too often. While we do not have all the answers, was are convinced that any breach of an AVO must mean the person breaching orders must be arrested and held in a lockup until the matter of the breach is heard before a judge. If the breach is one where actual violence occurs then a custodial sentence must be place upon the perpetrator.
We are further concerned when a Judge imposes a AVO on a person he must also apply his mind to the likelihood of that person becoming motivated to do harm to the person who has been granted a protection order under the AVO; if the Judge is of the view that there is sufficient heat and anger in the situation then a custodial sentence must be considered.
I recall an event some years ago when a male person invited another male to share living in his home as a tenant. After some time, the relationship between the two people became very toxic and so the invited person was asked to leave and would not and so police assistance was received and an AVO was taken out against the “invited person”. After 2 weeks the “invited person” returned to the house and was aggressively confronting the home owner. The police were called and the “invited person” was taken away to the police station and after warnings and other paperwork was filled out the “invited person” was free to leave the Police Station. Less than 2 hours later the “invited person” returned to the house with a sledge hammer, and proceeded to use the sledge hammer to gain entry and then continued to smash various things in the house while also swinging the sledge hammer at the home owner. The home owner armed himself with a kitchen knife and during the melee he fataly stabbed the “invited person”. The investigation resulted in a charge of unlawful killing; the homeowner’s defence of self-defence was unsuccessful in the court proceeding that followed.
This outcome shows the failure of the system where an AVO has become meaningless. Too often we are finding the person taking out the AVO becomes a victim of assault or even killed, sometimes the person taking out the AVO is the person caught in defending their own life. This is an appalling situation and we want to have the whole arrangements around AVOs to overhauled so that they do what they seem to imply that they should do – protect the person from unwanted presence of the other party.