Domestic Violence and Mediation
Updated: Dec 15, 2018
Domestic Violence has been such a major issue in today’s society and we continue to see it in the media and hear the term on a regular basis but in my experience people don’t fully understand what it means or that some actions would constitute domestic violence. So what actually is it?
In Queensland, for behaviour to be regarded as Domestic Violence, it must occur between parties in a form of domestic relationship. This could be an intimate relationship, family relationship (connected by blood or marriage) or an informal care arrangement (parents of a child etc).
The actual behaviour of a person towards another person in a relevant relationship may include the following:-
a) Physical or sexual abuse;
b) Emotional or psychological abuse;
c) Economical abuse;
d) Threatening or coercive behaviour; and/or
e) Any other behaviour that in anyway controls or dominates the other person and causes that person to feat for their own safety or well being or that of someone else.
So what does that mean? If your spouse stopped you from seeing your family or going out with friends, if they financially controlled you, if they would denigrate and yell at you, you may have experienced domestic violence.
Mediation is about having the parties on equal playing fields. As a Mediator we take all steps to minimise and lessen any power imbalances. We need to make sure that you are willingly entering into any agreement and not feeling pressured.
If we have concerns about domestic violence in a relationship, we will need to assess whether mediation is suitable to occur. We don’t want to cause further harm nor do we want a person to feel pressured into an agreement. What we will consider is the type, severity and circumstances of the behaviour along with whether it has occurred recently. Further, if there is a Protection Order, we will ask to see a copy and whether the Order will allow a mediation to occur.
Domestic Violence does not necessarily mean that mediation is not suitable, we may be able to put safety measures in place (such as staggered entrances and exits), the mediation could occur by a shuttle (where you will not be in the same room) or even occur by telephone so that you will not even be at the same location, to facilitate the mediation to occur.
If you do have concerns about attending mediation due to violence it is important that you tell your mediator and that steps are implemented. If the mediation does occur face to face a subtle signal, such as a cough, could be implemented to indicate that you are feeling stressed or pressured and need a break. This will allow the Mediator to call a break or to arrange private sessions with each of the parties.
If you are experiencing any domestic violence please reach out for help. The following is a list of organisations able to assist the victims of domestic violence:-
DVConnect Womensline Phone: 1800 811 811 (24 hours, 7 days a week) Womensline helps women to obtain safe refuge accommodation, confidential counselling and referral to other services.
DVConnect Mensline Phone: 1800 600 636 (9am to midnight, 7 days a week) Mensline provides confidential counselling, information and referral to men affected by domestic and family violence.
Kids Helpline Phone: 1800 55 1800 (24 hours, 7 days per week)
Lifeline Phone: 13 11 14 (24 hour Crisis Counselling Line)
Don’t forget – in an emergency telephone 000