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NSW Emotional Damages from a De Facto Relationship?

Discussion in 'Personal Injury Law Forum' started by Leah_m, 25 February 2015.

  1. Leah_m

    Leah_m Active Member

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    Hello, I'm after some help regarding a messy situation I find myself in. My de facto and I separated in Mid November. I discovered evidence of him possessing child pornography. I reported it to the police. They have arrested and charged him a few weeks ago. He is currently on bail. Victims Services are paying for counselling. I have applied for recognition payment, but from what I understand the amount of compensation is probably not going to be very much money, if any. I am suffering emotionally. My medical team would be able to confirm this. It is my belief that he is personality disordered, perhaps a sociopath. I'm not sure I'll ever trust again. We have approx $150,000 equity in the home, the sale has settled in Mid March. I have a family law solicitor acting on my behalf. I am not sure how much I am likely to get at this stage. I have contacted another solicitor to investigate defamation, but it looks as though it might not be a strong case.

    My question is, can I sue for damages for the emotional damage he has caused me? My life has been turned up side down and Victims Services doesn't quite cut it for what is turning out to be a living nightmare. PTSD could be a possibility. I also have a chronic illness that has been exacerbated due to his behaviour.

    Thanks for you help.
     
  2. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Leah,

    My thoughts are that you can potentially look at pressing charges for domestic violence (which includes emotional and psychological abuse) and in many cases there is an accompanying tort that you can claim compensation for in a civil matter (in addition to or alternatively to the criminal charge).
    See this webpage, the domestic violence legal service in NSW: Domestic Violence Legal Service - Women's Legal Services NSW

    You should give them a call, explain your situation and they might be able to offer further advice. Being a domestic violence issue, you may well be eligible for Legal Aid and help from the Women's Legal Centre. So definitely pursue these free resources to see whether you can take this any further.
     
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  3. Leah_m

    Leah_m Active Member

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    Thank you. I'm absolutely infuriated and devasted at the same time that this does not seem as straightforward as it should be. If an employer had caused me this kind of damage, it would be taken care of. My future is at stake, and he will probably walk away with half our assets via family law. I'm amazed. I'll call them tomorrow.
     
  4. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Leah,

    Good luck. And yes, there is a lot of legal literature and discussion around the lack of comprehensive support for women in our legal system. This doesn't help you I know, but hopefully the Women's Legal Service will be able to provide more legal advice and support. Those lawyers are generally passionate about women's rights and the law, so you will most likely find a compassionate ear!
     
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  5. Leah_m

    Leah_m Active Member

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    Well, I'm happy to chat to anyone who is for women's rights at the moment! I did a bit more Googling and found a private law firm in Sydney who deals with domestic violence as their speciality, and their website was the first I found mention taking action in civil courts outside of the pathetic victims comp tribunal. Seriously, a victim can be raped, beaten to a pulp and any manner of harm, and they give you $10,000. Wow. I'm outraged for all victims, both women and men, it's offensive. These pathological Narcissitic offenders are not deterred with criminal charges, but maybe some serious financial consequences would. I don't know. It's sad for everyone.
     
  6. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Looking at the original post I am unclear where the abuse towards the OP is to be seen?

    Domestic violence in all forms is abhorrent and it doesn't matter whether it is man or a woman committing the abuse. I agree the compensation to victims doesn't really act as a deterrent but my understanding is that is not why compensation is being provided. Jail is the deterrence factor, not money but some people just don't care about either one, makes them hard to control :(.

    In this instance based on the information provided I can see why someone is upset/emotional about having their personal life turned upside down but I'm not sure this qualifies as domestic violence.
     
  7. Leah_m

    Leah_m Active Member

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    It might not qualify, I don't know. But, it's kind of offensive to minimise my situation by saying I'm upset/emotional. I haven't gone into specifics of the situation, exactly what happened, and what's happened since, but at the risk of sounding really negative, my emotional state is far, far beyond emotional and upset. This could take me years to get over, if I do at all.
     
  8. Ivy

    Ivy Well-Known Member

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    Hi Leah,

    As I said above, domestic violence is broad and includes psychological, emotional abuse, harassment, threats and other behaviour that leaves the victim feeling fearful.

    The other factor that I wanted to mention is that if your solicitor advises that you may have a case against your ex, any compensation that you may be awarded (if successful, or if agreed to in mediation) won't be punitive. That is, civil cases are not designed to compensate any more than what is necessary to make up for damage caused. Compensation is not designed to punish the other party. Compensation may include reimbursement for medical costs, lost income from time off work and so on. Courts also look to see whether victims have taken steps to ameliorate costs wherever they can.

    One reason that civil compensation claims are not punitive is that to be successful in a civil case, the claimant needs to be able to prove their case on a balance of probabilities (sometimes colloquially thought of as a more than 50% likelihood). In a criminal case, the prosecution needs to show that the likelihood that the defendant committed the crime is beyond reasonable doubt. This is a much higher burden of proof. Only in a criminal case will fines be punitive.

    Another reason that civil cases are not punitive is that if they were, it would leave perpetrators open to double punishment so to speak. Civil and criminal cases are designed therefore to work together so that a convicted criminal is brought to justice through the criminal system but that victims are also able to recoup the sometimes extensive costs associated with the crime committed against them.
     
  9. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Slightly off-topic but interested in the answer:

    Agreed, but doesn't that violence need to be directed against the victim and isn't there are measure of what a reasonable/'normal' person would feel in that situation?

    There are people that shrug off many things and would never feel psychological abuse, there are other people where the slightest hint of an verbal argument may make them fearful and I had thought, but may be wrong, that whether or not someone should be considered as having suffered non-physical violence was measured against some kind of 'community standard' (what ever that is).
     

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