Welcome to Ivy Law Group’s Podcast – The Family Five! 

In this week’s episode, we discuss violent/abusive relationships, looking at what to do if you need to flee a violent relationship and what happens if you are falsely accused of being abusive. We also discuss support services available for those in need.

Warning: this podcast discusses some serious topics that may be distressing for some listeners. 

Transcript: Leaving a violent relationship


Jessica Hamilton (JH): Hello and welcome to the Family Five Podcast with Ivy Law Group where we tackle the tough family law issues in the time it takes you to drink your coffee. I’m Jessica Hamilton, I’m the Marketing Manager for Ivy Law Group, and I’m joined by my boss, Shane Neagle, who is the director of Ivy Law Group and the family lawyer extraordinaire. In this podcast, we will take a five in five approach, five questions in five minutes. Our aim is to keep the podcast light, easy to understand, and to give you some valuable information to take away with you. Shane, how are you today?

Shane Neagle (SN): I’m going really good. How about you, Jess?

JH: Yeah, not too bad, thank you. All right, so the last couple of weeks we’ve been talking a lot about relationships, mainly unhealthy relationships, the types of abuse that could exist in a relationship, physical, emotional, financial, and we also talked about narcissism and some of the signs of a narcissist. So for this episode, it would be good to potentially talk about some scenarios or some real life examples about how this plays out and what people could do (to protect themselves). So, over to you Shane.

SN: When we were talking about this earlier, two things were coming to my mind based on some of the cases that we’ve run over nearly now, three decades I’ve been involved in law. But what features (a lot) is there are people out there who are in serious jeopardy in terms of abusive and violent relationships, Jessica, and how that manifests in their own lives, but also for their children. Secondly, there’s people who are falsely accusing people, and they’re often our clients who are before us as well. And there’d be a lot of people/listeners out there in either of those circumstances.

JH: All right, so maybe firstly, we just talk about the situation where someone needs to leave.

SN: Well, there’s all different scenarios and we’ve had clients, for example, at the extreme end who’ve had to leave because they’ve been involved with somebody that’s involved in illegal activities, to do with gangs and violence that comes as a consequence (of that). This included having their houses shot at whilst they’re inside with their children, and then having to flee, and I mean, flee as in going underground. And the difficulty that often arises in cases like that, where the person’s fleeing is that the other parent says, well, I’m not a criminal and there’s no evidence against me. You can’t prove that this shooting happened because of me, and as a consequence, I still have rights to my child. And then what does the court do next, is really important.

JH: Yeah. So I guess what would that person who is fleeing then do in that scenario?

SN: The first thing they can do, and should do, is obviously seek refuge somewhere urgently and then consult a lawyer. It’s so important. They (the lawyer) can set out a very prescribed way to respond to the situation, settle their concerns about what implications might be by leaving or denying the other parent time with the child, for example.

JH: So I guess this leads us into the next scenario that we were going to talk about, which is where a relationship is broken down and one person has been falsely accused of certain behaviours. So what happens in that scenario?

SN: Sometimes a lot of patience is what happens. I remember a case nearly 14 years ago that I was involved in where my client, the father, had been accused of all kinds of despicable acts, including sexually abusing the mother’s child from a previous relationship, having a sexual relationship with his sister in front of the children, and even in front of her husband. When it gets to a dispute where the mother’s refusing (to allow) my client to see the children, the court has to look at this on what we call an interim basis, where urgently you want to see the children, it has to take a very conservative approach about what’s called acceptable risk. And in his case and his family, they were very supportive and all of it was nonsense. There was just no way what she’d said could have happened. And that was proven the case a year later when the children were kept with him for on a final basis.

JH: And what about in scenarios where the outcome was not very favourable?

SN: I’ve had cases where children were murdered, and I’ve had cases where children have been seriously sexually abused and raped. My client was murdered in one case, and unfortunately, us in the background (we as lawyers are) trying to do our very best and trying to get the police involved and (obtain) court orders. Very thankfully, the system is continually moving (forward), and trying to upgrade its systems, particularly with police and how seriously they take domestic violence. And we just all have to keep vigilant. One of the things I keep saying is that if you feel unsafe in yourself, please go and talk to friends. An abuser will try to isolate you, a male or female, whoever is doing it.

JH: So, I think it’s important to talk here about support systems that are available for people in these scenarios. Whether you are the one fleeing or you are the one who’s being falsely accused or there’s someone in danger, where should people go?

SN: When it comes to serious violence, of course, it’s really important to contact the police. People listening wouldn’t be surprised that sometimes the perpetrator involved in abuse in their lives is a serious criminal, with a serious history of violence, and decisions have to be made about involving police. It’s not a fantastic place to be, but sometimes that happens. It’s a baby step approach for some people in those circumstances. But let’s just put it this way, if it’s so serious and urgent to protect yourself, well, I’d be going to police. In every New South Wales local area command, there’s what’s called a domestic violence liaison officer, and they are so highly trained. What I also strongly suggest is for people to call 1-800-RESPECT. They’ll assist with counselling and to arrange a safe exit plan and checking devices even for tracking to assist you.

JH: Thanks, Shane. I think that was very helpful. All right, so obviously we have spoken about some quite heavy topics. We’ve also possibly gone over the five minutes, but I think it’s important to cover these scenarios. Now let’s just lighten the mood a little bit with another classic dad joke. And you know what? I think one of these days, I’m going to try and come up with a mum joke.

SN: I’m going to challenge you. Why don’t you do it right now?

JH: I’ve got nothing. *Laughs* Over to you.

SN: Hey, Jess. I told a joke on a Zoom meeting and nobody laughed. Turns out I’m not remotely funny.

*laughter and music*

JH: Thanks for tuning in and don’t forget to save us to your favorites wherever you listen to your podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. It’s important to note that the contents of this podcast are intended as a general guide to the subject matter. And if you are looking for specific advice that your individual circumstances, then we would recommend getting in touch with one of our friendly family lawyers. 

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