SA Defamation and Harassment by Family - What to Do?

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23 May 2014
I am being harassed and my reputation defamed by a family member and their partner. I have a medical condition that is currently under the process of getting recognized here in Australia, but these family members have been telling people I am mentally unstable and it is all in my head.

They have also been posting on twitter and facebook about the disease I am suffering from and harassing others who suffer from it. My husband and I have also received numerous emails and messages from them despite us asking them to leave us alone. I am at a point where I am seeking legal advice as these people seem extremely unstable and I am concerned for the safety of my family.

I am not sure what I can do here but any advice would be more than welcome. I am thinking of getting a restraining order but I am also concerned they will try to say I am an unfit mother for my children (since I am suffering from a medical condition) and go after me that way. Should I see a lawyer and start legal proceedings or leave it and hope they do not try to make my life any harder and that they cease their defamation and harassment?

Thanks in advance.


Well-Known Member
25 April 2014
Hi Imissnormalpeople,

Have a read of this previous LawAnswers post ‘Can I sue for defamation on Facebook?’ that gives some good info on your question.

If you’re feeling threatened, and depending on which state you’re located in, you could apply for an AVO (For example, see the Legal Aid NSW AVO page).


Hi Imissnormalpeople, I feel for you, and can only imagine how frustrated you must be.

As per an earlier thread, referred to above by Worldly1 - defamation laws do apply to social media.

I quote: "At its most basic level, defamation is the publishing of something that is likely to cause harm to a person’s reputation by:
  • having others think less of the person;
  • causing others to shun and avoid the person;
  • causing hatred, contempt or ridicule of the person;
  • having the estimation of the person to be lowered by others;
  • affecting the person’s private character and reputation, and also their business or professional life.
One of the key questions is not whether the person has been offended or insulted, but rather, has the perception of that person by others been harmed through the publication of words, pictures, or any other medium that can convey meaning. Furthermore, the presumption of harm and actual harm may not need to be demonstrated."

I am guessing that you would likely have grounds and evidence (in the form of posts etc) to establish a claim for defamation but I am sure you understand the moral consequences of instituting proceedings against family members, in laws or not. Its just going to rock the boat even more and you may cause permanent damage to your relationships with them. It may not be a bad idea to let them know that what they are doing is grounds for a law suit against them, but not necessarily bring the action unless you absolutely have to. I would say, keep a record of what has been published about you but sit tight and see if they grow up.
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