by Dr Gonzo
My experiences with domestic violence courts gave me something, but also, took a lot away.
|Will there ever be a point where we, as a society, can accept that no one person...be they male or female, is completely innocent, or completely responsible when marriages and partnerships end? And that all of the adults involved are, to one degree or another, both victim and perpetrator alike. And that the only ones who should hold no responsibility for the issues which cause relationships to end are the children.
There is no doubt that here in Australia, and likely many other counties around the world, men are being prejudged by magistrates, children's services officers, and police, as perpetrators of domestic and family violence.
While it is true to say that most incidents of serious domestic violence are perpetrated by men, the system fails to take into account that the vast majority of men who have separated from a partner, do not harm, harass or commit domestic violence against their ex-partners or their children, and yet, can and do find themselves facing allegations of domestic violence in a court of law, and the reality is there is very little they can do to prevent domestic violence orders being awarded against them...no matter if they have or have not committed the offences alleged against them.
I doubt there would be a man alive who hasn't committed domestic violence against their partners at one point or another during the course of their lives. Especially when we consider the technical definitions of what domestic violence is...and it seems that even during an argument, if a man raises his voice, would be deemed, in a technical sense, as an act of domestic violence.
The truth is that if any of these allegations were being heard, instead of in a domestic violence court, but in a magistrates court under normal proceedings, most, if not all, would be thrown out if the 'he said, she said' brief of evidence was presented as the only proof that an offence had in fact, been committed.
The 'one victim, one perpetrator mentality is not fair on the vast majority of men who do the right thing, and in many cases causes unnecessary and unwarranted court orders to be put in place.
When spite or an inability to accept a new normal becomes a situation where taking advantage of others suffering, so as to glean orders from a domestic violence court is made way too easy, this becomes a weakness in the system, rather than the strength I think it was designed to be.
Knee jerk reactions to very publicised incidents of serious domestic and family violence that sees demand for action from civil and political leaders put all men, regardless of if they have or have not committed any offence of this nature, in the firing line of often false or misleading allegations by ex-partners for various reasons...and with little to no investigations being carried out by police and the seemingly one-eyed view of the courts that all men are perpetrators and all women are victims, does nothing to help the epidemic of violence that it is supposed to be helping to reduce.
Spite...and hell hath no fury, is the price some of the men who find themselves before domestic violence courts, must pay for the few who commit these heinous crimes...and, it isn't fair or the right answer.
Why is an affidavit good enough for a court to allow orders? Where all the aggrieved needs do is write whatever she wants to allege, then sign the affidavit, get it witnessed, and that's good enough in a DV court, yet in criminal proceedings, solid evidence and beyond reasonable doubt is what's required.
Are we compensating as a society because we feel our own guilt and regret for not doing enough to prevent serious incidences of domestic and family violence from occurring?
Do we follow along the same lines as regret...always reacting...instead of being proactive in order to get in front of these crimes and help prevent these men from committing violence against partners, former partners and their children?
I feel a lot could be done in educating young boys before they are conditioned to see women as weak and easily controlled?
It is almost impossible to stop a man intent on harm, from attempting to carry out a threat...short of locking him away, and I put forth that not one life has been spared due to domestic violence orders being in place.
Police are understaffed, lack training and have other priorities in the course of their daily duties (the issuing of traffic infringements is a better source of revenue for governments than attending domestic disputes or following up minor technical breaches of DV orders) to fully enforce DV orders, which are in many cases, unworkable, especially when kids are involved.
Women rarely take, or are asked to take, any responsibility for the role they play in relationship breakdowns, which negates, or at the very least, reduces accountability when it comes to relationship matters and matters of domestic and family violence.
There seems to be a stigma attached to suggesting that women could have any fault when relationships are destroyed by domestic and family violence. I realise they did not ask for or deserve abusive treatment by men, but is there some kind of blindness that we cannot see that women are just as capable of vindictiveness and controlling behaviour within their relationships?
And after relationships end is where vengeance, jealousy and spite can lead their partners on a one-way ride to domestic violence orders being forced upon them. Children are the real victims in any relationship breakdown, and in a normal world should be priority number one and the focus of both parents love and care, no matter the issues the parents have with one another. But, they are very useful tools when hell hath no fury takes the place of common sense and the rights of the children to have a continued relationship with both parents...which when it comes down to it, contributes to their overall happiness.
I offer there wouldn't be a mother alive who would admit that she had denied a father having a relationship with their children, and yet, it happens far too often, and for reasons, as varied as you can think of.
Reasons such as he is no good, or he doesn't contribute enough financially, or they are better off without him are just excuses to deny access and domestic violence orders can make her will just that bit stronger in that once they are in place, a man had better be careful not to breach by arguing back, retaliating for name-calling or complaining that he didn't get to see the kids this week.
The threat of gaining a criminal record by answering a phone call from someone who has brought orders against him is farcical, but a very real fear that any man who has domestic violence orders against him must face. How does that seem right...that she can get orders for nothing more than allegations, and yet, she can still call him? And if he answers that call, he is in breach of most domestic violence orders which can carry a prison term and a permanent criminal record.
It is a common practice for family court lawyers to get the temporary orders (applied to from the police and generally lasting for two weeks until the first court appearance) made into five-year orders by getting the aggrieved to contact the respondent about matters to do with the children...by any means and for any purpose. For example, an email asking if he is picking the kids up from school on Friday for his weekend with them, and if he is stupid enough (and we all are) to respond with a single word of, “Yes.” He has just condemned himself to a five-year domestic violence order for breaching the temporary orders of no contact...and for me, this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever come across to do with the whole situation.
The objective I believe is to get lawyers involved as quickly as possible because then, any email directed towards the respondent can be directed towards his lawyer (for a price of course) and when the man's lawyer replies to her lawyer that he will be there on Friday to collect the children, no offence has been committed...all designed to prop up a justice system, which is a self-perpetuating animal without conscience.
I may sound bitter because this is exactly what happened to me...and then to apply to the Family Court of Australia for orders to gain access to my kids, only for those orders to be worthless was the last straw for me and as a result, a father, who loved his kids dearly, has not seen either of them in almost four years...but, I did get a surprise Father's day present on Sunday when one of my girls texted me wishing me a happy father's day and we had a conversation...a bonus I never expected because expectations will invariably cause disappointment.