Perpetrators of domestic violence use physical, sexual, emotional, and economic tactics in order to isolate, diminish, control, exploit, and terrorise their victims.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence may be constituted of a single or multiple violent events occurring over a period of time. Although most people associate Domestic Violence with physical abuse, it is important to keep in mind that domestic violence includes any act of violence including sexual violence, psychological / emotional violence and also financial violence. In addition, it can occur through an action or an omission (a failure to act).
By virtue of the Gender-Based Violence and Domestic Violence Act the definition of Domestic Violence has been widened to include all acts or omissions including verbal, physical, sexual, psychological or economic violence causing physical and, or moral harm or suffering, including threats of such acts or omissions, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, that occur within the family or domestic unit, whether or not the perpetrator shares or has shared the same residence with the victims and shall include children who are witnesses of violence within the family or domestic unit.
Legal Rights & Measures
The law recognises that no one has the right to physically, emotionally, sexually or financially abuse another individual. Countries which have ratified the Istanbul Convention including Malta, are bound to take the necessary legislative measures to ensure that domestic violence offences are punishable by effective and proportionate sanctions which may also include sentences involving the deprivation of liberty.
In addition to punishment at law, these countries are also bound to provide protective measures to victims of domestic violence including protection and restraining orders.Victims of domestic violence may also have the right to claim compensation from their perpetrators for offences of domestic violence.
Due to amendments in the law, once a report is filed reporting a crime of domestic violence, the executive police are duty bound to investigate this incident, and withdrawal of the complaint in order to stop such investigation is no longer possible. Once the police get to know of an offence of domestic violence, they are duty bound to investigate the matter and the complaint of the victim is no longer a requirement. In certain instances, if the victim of the offence is deemed to be at serious risk, the police may also request the duty Magistrate to issue a temporary protection order which is valid until the alleged aggressor is taken to court and may be extended in certain cases.
On the other hand, the Family Court may issue a protection order during proceedings of personal separation or during proceedings of care and custody of a child where domestic violence is present and the Criminal Court may issue a protection order once a perpetrator is charged or accused of a criminal offence. Once the alleged perpetrator is found guilty of a criminal offence by the Criminal Court, together with any punishment at law the Court may issue a restraining order.