You can report physical, psychological or sexual violence anytime. It doesn’t matter if it’s hours, weeks, months or years after it happened; you still have the right to make a complaint to the police.

If you have been assaulted or threatened it is never your fault, even if you have hit back in self-defence, or if you are drunk or out-of-it. The police treat domestic violence as a serious crime: an incident is not viewed as ‘just a domestic.’

If you’re the one calling the police, tell them if you already have a Protection Order. A Protection Order says that the named person cannot abuse, threaten or harass you.

The police can put you in touch with Women’s Refuge, and we can offer you support at any point of the process.

What happens if the police are called to a domestic violence situation at your place?

The police will ask you some questions to try to find out if you are in immediate danger. Try to tell the police if you feel unsafe or afraid for yourself or your children. Tell the police about any firearms or weapons to which the abuser has access.

The police should refer you to an agency that specialises in domestic violence, such as Women’s Refuge. A support worker can come to see you straight away, or you can call them when you are ready. Otherwise, one may contact you soon after the police call-out to let you know what help is available in your community.

What about giving a statement?

You will then be asked to give a statement, always in a separate room to the abuser. Women’s Refuge or another domestic violence advocate can help you make a statement. Police will determine whether an offence has been committed and decide whether to charge the abuser.

It’s not up to you as the victim of the crime to press charges: police must investigate by gathering their own evidence and lay charges as they do with any other serious crime.

You can choose to make a statement or not – or even choose to withdraw your statement – but that doesn’t necessarily mean the police will drop charges.

What if the abuser is arrested?

The police will take them to the police station, and hold them until there is a court hearing available – usually the next morning. They should inform you when the person is being released. Police should only give bail to the abuser straight away if there are exceptional circumstances.

You can talk to the Victim’s Advisor at the District Court, who will have information on the abuser’s case, and can tell you what to expect.

Think about making a Victim Impact Statement (VIS), which is an opportunity to tell your story and say how the violence has affected your life. This statement will be given to the judge to be taken into consideration during sentencing if the abuser is found guilty. Police, Victim’s Advisors and Women’s Refuge advocates can help you make this statement.

What if the abuser is not arrested?

Think about what you need to keep safe: can you stay with a friend or relative? Do you need to come to a Women’s Refuge safe house? What about making a Safety Plan? A Women’s Refuge advocate can help you consider your options and keep as safe as possible.

If you think the abuser should have been arrested, make a complaint to the police.

What if you are being arrested?

You have the right to ask on what charge you are being arrested. You must tell the police your name, age, address, and occupation, but you have the right to speak to a lawyer before you decide whether to allow the police to interview you. Ask the police about accessing a lawyer.

Resources:

Fresh Start: A Practical Guide for Women Wanting to be Free From Abusepdf

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