Domestic Violence On The Rise: Do You Need A Criminal Defence Lawyer?

The world locked down hard during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Australia, especially Melbourne, locked down the hardest. Australians were stuck inside, afraid of getting seriously ill, and isolated from loved ones and society. Many were unable to work.

Domestic violence was already a grave issue before the pandemic. The lockdowns and the attendant physical stress, emotional stress, and extreme anxiety led to a surge of domestic violence cases, leaving many searching for a criminal defence lawyer.

What Is Domestic Violence?

In Victoria, “domestic violence” is otherwise known as “family violence.” The primary statute regulating family violence is the Family Violence Protection Act 2008 (Vic). Family violence is harmful or violent behaviour that is used to “control, threaten, force, or dominate a family member through fear.” It includes:

  • Financial abuse - withholding money for necessities.
  • Damage to property as an intimidation tactic.
  • The threat to harm pets or other family members.
  • Preventing someone from seeing their family and friends.
  • Physical assault - this includes but is not limited to hitting or pushing.
  • Sexual abuse in all forms.
  • Emotional or psychological abuse - including threats, humiliation, or insults.

Who is Considered a family member?

Anyone in the following relationships can be considered a family member:

  • A marriage, de-facto relationship, or civil union.
  • A gay or lesbian relationship.
  • Parents, children, and relatives.
  • People in a 'family-like' relationship.

If any of these categories apply to you and you require help with a dispute or a potential dispute, seek the assistance of a criminal defence lawyer.

Rising Domestic Violence Cases: Studies Reveal a “Shadow Pandemic”

Several studies done over the first year of the pandemic showed an increase in domestic violence during lockdowns.

Perpetrators with no prior history of domestic violence

A national survey of over 350 domestic and family violence agencies and their clients showed a “shadow pandemic” of domestic violence during the lockdowns. More than two-thirds of the agencies surveyed reported an increase in new clients during the Covid lockdown. The agencies also reported:

  • They were seeing many clients for the first time during the lockdown.
  • Many alleged perpetrators had no history of domestic violence.
  • There was substantial growth in controlling and coercive behaviour–especially among those prone to it.

Survey Of Victoria Domestic Violence Workers

A survey taken during the first year of the pandemic revealed that over 50% of Victoria’s domestic violence workers had reported an increase in the frequency and severity of domestic violence since the start of the lockdowns.

Also, the Melbourne Safe Steps domestic violence crisis support hotline experienced increased calls by 20 percent during the stage 4 lockdowns in Victoria. Safe Steps also launched a webchat service for women who needed to ask for help while the perpetrator was in the house.

Australian Institute of Criminology Survey

The Australian Institute of Criminology did an online survey of 15,000 women, asking them about their experience with domestic violence in the early stages of the pandemic. Released in July 2020, the survey found the following:

  • Of those Australian women in a relationship, 10% had experienced domestic violence.
  • A significant portion (two-thirds) reported that the attacks started or became worse during the pandemic.
  • 50% of the women who had previous experience of physical or sexual violence said the abuse had become more severe or frequent since the pandemic's start.

Do You Need A Criminal Defence Lawyer?

If you’re the victim of a domestic violence dispute, consider seeking experienced counsel. These situations and any allegations that stem from them can have severe consequences on your life.

Placing your trust in legal experts trained in this area gives you the best chance of success. It can also relieve some of the stress you’d be going through at this very sensitive time.

Who Are The Best Criminal Defence Lawyers In Melbourne?

The lawyers at Josh Smith Legal are experienced in all areas of criminal law. We are known and respected for our excellence throughout Melbourne and Victoria and are among the most highly renowned Queen’s counsels and barristers.


Domestic violence is a serious issue in Melbourne. The pandemic and the lockdowns saw an increase in cases, the ramifications of which are still being felt. The lockdowns may be over, but the threat of domestic violence isn’t. If you or someone you know have questions or need a confidential discussion, you can contact our criminal defence lawyers today.

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