Multidisciplinary team assist Maggie to escape intimidation and control

Maggie, in her late 60s, had been living in an abusive relationship with her husband Walter for many years. At couples counselling, she found the courage to tell Walter that she wanted to separate, and he agreed to move out. After the counselling session, however, Walter acted like he had never agreed to the separation and told Maggie she was imagining things.  

Walter then commenced a campaign of intimidation, surveillance and control of Maggie. He demanded to know what she was doing every day. He moved her food and medication to a different shelf in the fridge, and then told Maggie she was going crazy when she questioned him about it. Walter took the key Maggie used to lock her bedroom door and refused to return it and installed cameras on Maggie’s car despite her insistence she didn’t want them.  

Maggie felt increasingly trapped by her husband’s behaviour. 

Maggie made contact with the Seniors Legal and Support Service (SLASS) where our lawyer drafted an application for a protection order seeking a condition that Walter leave the house.  Maggie was highly stressed as the court day approached and the SLASS social worker, who had developed a detailed safety plan, checked in with her every day. 

On the day of court, Walter advised that he was moving into a retirement village. Maggie was incredibly relieved to know that he would be leaving, though it had taken the threat of going to court for him to do so.  Maggie immediately felt a great deal safer knowing that they would no longer be living together. She decided not to pursue the court process, which she found distressing, once the outcome she needed had been achieved. 

In an email to the SLASS team Maggie expressed her gratitude “I thank you both sincerely for your help when I needed it.”

What is a domestic violence order? 

A domestic violence order is a protection order made by the court to stop threats or acts of domestic violence against a person. 

This order can stop someone: 

  • approaching another person at their home or workplace 
  • staying in a home they used to share with the other person 
  • approaching another person, their relatives or their friends, if named in the order, within a certain distance, such as 100 metres 
  • going to a child’s school or day care centre. 

A domestic violence order application must be in the approved form and usually filed in the Magistrates Court (ss 32-33 Domestic and Family Violence Protection Act 2012 (Qld) (DFVP Act)). The application for a domestic violence order (Form DV01) can be obtained from the local Magistrates Court, police station or online from the Queensland Courts website. There is no filing fee. Once the application is filed, a date for the hearing of the application will be fixed and the court will provide the application to police to serve on the respondent (ss 33-34 DFVP Act). 

Who can apply? 

An application for a domestic violence order can be made by: 

  • the aggrieved – this is the person who has experienced abuse or violence 
  • A third person – someone who is authorised by the aggrieved in writing to apply for an order (e.g. a refuge worker)
  • a police officer – the police may refuse to apply, if so, the aggrieved can themselves still apply 
  • a person acting under another Act for the aggrieved (the DFVP Act gives the example of a guardian for a personal matter of the aggrieved under the Guardianship and Administration Act 2000 (Qld),  or an attorney under an enduring power of attorney under the Powers of Attorney Act 1998 (Qld)). 

More information is available at the Queensland Law Handbook online.